Archive for the ‘Paul Simon’ Category

CD review: Paul Simon ‘Songwriter’ set fresh with new ‘Sound’; 4 more reissues due

October 24, 2011

While it’s customary for best-of collections to add a recent song or two to freshen the brew, rarely has one offered so fresh and important a track as The Sound of Silence leading off Paul Simon’s two-disc, 32-song Songwriter collection.

Recorded in concert in June, it’s a stirring voice-and-guitar performance of his Simon & Garfunkel classic from the ’60s — which was virtually the theme song of landmark film The Graduate.  And it kicks off this career-spanning set with a vibrancy that trumps any sense of this being a warmed-over array of familiar songs.

The remaining tracks Simon chose from throughout his solo and S&G career — speaking of which, he provides not the duo’s performance of Bridge Over Troubled Water, but Aretha Franklin’s, and not the duo’s The Boxer, but his own live version from Central Park. Sorry, Artie.

The other songs are from the 12-time Grammy winner’s many solo albums, ranging from obvious hits (Still Crazy After All These Years, Late in the Evening, Kodachrome) to astutely chosen album tracks, one of the best being the moving and beautifully melodic Peace Like a River from his first, self-titled solo LP. (more…)

CD reviews–Paul Simon: Still amazing after all these years

June 19, 2011

Yes, it was hard for Simon & Garfunkel fans to accept the mega-popular folk-based duo’s breakup after smash 1970 album Bridge Over Troubled Water. But then Paul Simon–always the group’s songwriter if not its principal vocalist–soldiered on alone and showed us why it was for the best.

Want evidence? The early years of Simon’s amazing solo career are remastered and recaptured — with bonus tracks and expanded packaging — on Columbia/Legacy’s handsome new editions of 1972’s Paul Simon, 1973’s There Goes Rhymin’ Simon, 1974’s Paul Simon In Concert: Live Rhymin’ and 1975’s Still Crazy After All These Years.

We’re talking big sales and major airplay. We’re talking Grammy awards. We’re talking a solo career that allowed Simon to stretch his musical muscles in so many ways, from the reggae-driven Mother and Child Reunion — a #4 Billboard hit — and the South American flavored Duncan (charango and flutes) to the gospel glories of Love Me Like a Rock and Gone At Last — not to mention such bouncy pop hits as Kodachrome, 50 Ways to Leave Your Lover and Me and Julio Down by the Schoolyard.

But less heralded album tracks also shine among Simon’s hopeful, heartfelt songs, including the pensive yet lilting Run That Body Down and the swampy verve of Peace Like a River from the Paul Simon album as well as the lovely S&G-styled anthem American Tune. And the melodies often are as rich as the lyrics.

Standout bonus tracks include an acoustic demo of Take Me to the Mardi Gras, an unfinished-lyrics demo of American Tune and the original demo of Gone At Last with the Jersey Dixon Singers. The live album also has robust never-released versions of Kodachrome and Something So Right.

Simon would reach his solo peak with 1986’s Grammy-winning megahit Graceland, but any and all of his albums have tracks worth treasuring. And it’s good to know Sony Music Entertainment has a new licensing agreement to release all of his solo work (most of it originally on Warner) under one recordings roof for the first time.

Nine more albums have followed these (and one preceded them, in 1965’s solo Paul Simon Songbook, with future S&G songs). But this four-part reissue is a strong start, and a reminder of how a boy from Queens became a poet troubadour for our times.