Gerry Goffin and Carole King were such prolific songwriters (usually working as a team) throughout the 1960s, and so frequently interpreted, that you could probably fill up a lot more than three CDs of covers of their compositions. It was hard to predict how many volumes would be in this series when this CD was released in 2012, but the third volume of Ace Records' compilations of interpretations of material by Goffin & King is another mix of hits and (more often) rarities/obscurities, all recorded in the '60s. There are a few big hits here (the Chiffons' "One Fine Day," Freddie Scott's "Hey Girl," the Drifters' "At the Club," the Cookies' "Don't Say Nothin' Bad About My Baby"), as well as a couple pretty famous recordings by the Byrds ("Goin' Back") and the Cookies' Earl-Jean ("I'm Into Something Good," a small 1964 hit made into a much bigger British Invasion one by Herman's Hermits). But much of the rest will be new even to the average dedicated record collector, even though plenty of the artists are famous. Even some of the tracks that look familiar at first glance are not the hit versions, like Bobby Vee's "It Might as Well Rain Until September" (written for him but a hit for Carole King herself); Dion's "Take Good Care of My Baby" (actually recorded by him before Bobby Vee's hit rendition, without the introductory verse heard on Vee's single); and the Everly Brothers' "Chains" (recorded in 1962, but not issued until 1984).
The double-edged sword is that there's usually quite a gap in quality between the famous hits and the other tunes. Even though many of the cuts are by hitmakers like Rick Nelson, Skeeter Davis, Bobby Goldsboro, the Tokens, and Tony Orlando, in the company of genuine Goffin & King classics they'd come off as filler. Though versions of "The Loco-Motion" by Dee Dee Sharp and "Will You Love Me Tomorrow" by Bunny Sigler make for a change from yet another compilation to feature the ones done for huge hit singles by Little Eva and the Shirelles, in comparison to the originals, they're perfunctory. On a more interesting note, it's unusual that a couple songs made it onto British singles, one by U.K. star Billy Fury ("I'd Never Find Another You," which made the Top Five on the charts in his native country in 1961), though the Eccentrics' rare "What You Got" is a generic British Invasion throwaway. In addition, a few little-known solid efforts are sprinkled throughout the set, like Lesley Gore's bouncy "The Old Crowd" (the B-side of her hit "She's a Fool"), and the Monkees' "Sweet Young Thing" proto-country-rock-psychedelia (written by Goffin & King with Mike Nesmith) is distinguished by its eccentricity if nothing else. In sum, the anthology might be more for the collector with a scholarly bent than the average '60s pop fan. But such listeners will greatly appreciate the liner notes, which examine the origins of these mostly uncelebrated recordings in great detail, complemented by rare period photos and illustrations.