‘It’s Too Late . . .’

Looking back at 1971’s charts, I noticed this morning that during the second week of August that year, Carole King’s Tapestry passed the halfway point of what would be a fifteen-week stay on top of the Billboard 200.

If there is such a thing as a perfect pop album, one on which every track works, that album might be Tapestry. There is one track I’m not fond of on its own for some reason – “Smackwater Jack” – but when I hear it in the context of the album it works, breaking the reflective mood just before the finale of the title tune.

And I find it odd, given my love of covers, that I’ve never dug – in any organized manner – into what covers there might be for the songs on Tapestry. Since Tuesday is a day I’ve decided to set aside most weeks for covers, let us take up the task.

A look at Second Hand Songs finds 128 versions of “It’s Too Late,” two of them by King: the version on the album and a 1970 demo released in 2012. The first of the other 126 came from Johnny Mathis. Then, still in 1971, came covers from Andy Williams, Top of the Pops, Jack Jones, Frances Yip, the Sound Effects, Agnaldo Rayol, Suzanne Lynch, the Shakers, the Music Machine, Mark Lindsay, the Sandpipers, and Bernard Purdie’s Pretty Purdie & The Playboys.

And from then, the covers continue, coming in every decade since the Seventies. There may be some more we look at down the road, but for today, I’m going to stop at the version by Pretty Purdie & The Playboys, which came out on the album Stand By Me (Whatcha See Is Whatcha Get). It seems to work pretty well.

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