Sounds Of Silence By Simon & Garfunkel

September 6, 2016

“The Sounds Of Silence” was written by Paul Simon during 1963 and an acoustic version was  included on the Simon & Garfunkel debut album Wednesday Morning 3 AM. The album and the song quickly disappeared and Simon moved to England.

Enter producer Tom Wilson. He had the Byrds “Mr. Tambourine Man,” when he asked the musicians from Dylan’s “Like A Rolling Stone” session to stay in the studio to record a new electric backing for Simon & Garfunkel’s “Sounds Of Silence” vocals.

On January 1, 1966, Paul Simon received an amazing New Year’s gift, when he received a call informing him that “The Sounds Of Silence” was the number one song in the United States; a position it would hold for two weeks. It would introduce the duo and their music to the world.

Over The Bridge Of Time by Paul Simon

October 27, 2013


There is little left to say about the career of Paul Simon. He was one-half of the legendary duo of Simon & Garfunkel, plus his solo career has resulted in dozens of hit albums and singles. Throw in eight Grammy Awards, two inductions into The Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame, induction into the Songwriters Hall Of Fame, induction into the American Academy Of Arts And Sciences, 39 BMI Awards, named in 2006 by Time Magazine as “100 People Who Shaped The World,” and a Kennedy Center Honors recipient and you have one of the most famous and respected figures in American music.

Now Legacy Records has released Paul Simon – The Complete Albums Collection, which is a 15-disc box set containing his 12 studio and two live concert albums. They cover his entire solo career from 1965’s The Paul Simon Songbook to 2011’s So Beautiful, Or So What.

Coinciding with the box set release is a one disc compilation titled Over The Bridge Of Time: A Paul Simon Retrospective (1964-2011). While all the material has been available on a number of occasions, it is the first time that Simon & Garfunkel material has been combined with his better known solo work. The songs are sequenced chronologically beginning with Simon & Garfunkel’s first hit, “Sounds Of Silence” and ending with the recent “Love And Hard Times.”

There is nothing new here but the 20 tracks are a wonderful ride through his career. “The Boxer,” “Cecelia,” and “Bridge Over Troubled Water” set up such well-known solo songs as “Me And Julio Down By The Schoolyard,” “50 Way To Leave Your Lover,” “Slip Slidin’ Away,” “Late In The Evening,” and “You Can Call Me Al.”

Each of the songs stands on their own but they also make you yearn for more. Simon’s career is filled with well-known and not so famous material and to really appreciate his genius, it is necessary to dig deep into his catalogue of albums.

Still, Over The Bridge Of Time: A Paul Simon Retrospective (1964-2011) serves the purpose of whetting the appetite with many of the definitive songs of the last half century. It presents Paul Simon at his most memorable.

Graceland: 25th Anniversary Edition by Paul Simon

July 10, 2012

In many ways we are living in the era of the box set. Originally an artist would issue a box set of material as a career spanning release that might contain a number of previously unavailable tracks, and major artists would issue multiple sets, but lately there has been a proliferation of anniversary edition sets concentrating on just one album. One of the latest is Paul Simon’s classic album, Graceland, which has celebrated its 25th anniversary.

Graceland: 25th Anniversary Edition is a 2 CD/2 DVD set which includes the remastered original album, the Under African Skies documentary film with extended bonus interviews, the 1987 African Concert from Zimbabwe, three original music videos, the Saturday Night Live performance of “Diamonds On The Soles Of Her Shoes,” and a narrative titled, “The Story Of Graceland,” as told by Paul Simon. There are also replicas of the original Graceland poster and handwritten lyrics pad, plus an 80-page book containing new and archival photos.

The first disc contains the remastered original album. The 1987 Grammy winning album, which has sold in excess of 14 million copies worldwide, is presented in pristine condition. The album was previously released in 2004 in an enhanced form, so the music has been cleaned as much as technology will allow. Songs such as “The Boy In The Bubble,” “Diamonds On The Soles Of Her Shoes,” “Under African Skies,” “Graceland,” and “You Can Call Me Al” all deserve to be heard at their best.

The second disc begins with five demos or early versions of Graceland material. While “Homeless,” “Diamonds On The Soles Of her Shoes,” and “All Around The World” have appeared before, the demos of “Crazy Love” and “You Can Call Me Al” were previously unreleased and provide a glimpse into Paul Simon’s creative process. The most interesting track is “The Story Of Graceland” as told by Simon in which he reflects and philosphises on the creation of the album.

The first DVD is centered on the Joe Berlinger-directed documentary Under African Skies. It chronicles the history and evolution of Graceland and
gives a history lesson about the political climate of South Africa 25 years ago. The film brings Graceland full circle as is it follows Paul Simon’s return to a far different South Africa. There are a number of extended interviews that complement the film. The three music videos and Saturday Night Live performance seem out of place on this disc, but they are historically interesting.

DVD 2 brings the set to a close with the resurrection of Simon’s 1987 live performance at Rufaro Stadium in Harare, Zimbabwe. This is not a typical Paul Simon concert as his pop material is missing. It concentrates on the material from Graceland and includes Miriam Makeba, Hugh Masekela, and Ladysmith Black Mambazo. The concert may seem somewhat dated today but at the time it was historically significant.

Much of the material contained on this box set has been issued before but Graceland: 25th Anniversary Edition gathers it together in one place. It may not be a release for everyone, but for the Paul Simon enthusiast it is a journey worth taking.

Article first published as Music Review: Paul Simon – Graceland: 25th Anniversary Edition on Blogcritics.

Paul Simon (Legacy Edition) by Paul Simon

August 15, 2011

Simon & Garfunkel went their separate ways during 1970, which was big news back in the day. Their last studio album, Bridge Over Troubled Water, had cemented their status among music’s elite, selling over 25 million copies worldwide to date, winning six Grammy Awards, and spending 10 weeks at the top of the album charts in the United States.

There was a great deal of anticipation from Simon & Garfunkel and music fans alike as they waited for Paul Simon’s first release. They needn’t have worried; album didn’t disappoint. His self-titled debut proved that his writing skills were intact and that his voice, minus Garfunkel, was a wonderful instrument in its own right. It marked the beginning of a solo career that has now passed the forty year mark and produced one of the better bodies of work in music history.

Paul Simon has now been reissued as part of the Columbia/Legacy’s Paul Simon project. It and There Goes Rhymin’ Simon, Paul Simon In Concert: Live Rhymin’, and Still Crazy After All These Years have returned in a digitally remastered form with bonus tracks.

It’s been quite a while since I listened to this album from beginning to end. The songs were immediately like an old friend coming to visit. The sound has been greatly improved plus the mix of the music has been enhanced. This can be best heard on the album’s second track, “Duncan,” where each word can be clearly heard and the instrumental backing takes on new life with added textures.

The bonus tracks are probably more interesting than essential. The simple acoustic demo versions of “Me And Julio Down By The Schoolyard” and “Duncan,” from early 1971, give a glimpse into the creative mind and process of Paul Simon. It’s nice to listen to the completed songs and compare. On the other hand, the unreleased version of “Paranoia Blues” feels like a finished project and contains some thumping rhythms.

The best known tracks have long been a part of the musicial landscape. “Me And Julio Down By The Schoolyard” and “Mother And Child Reunion” were both catchy pop tunes and hit singles, while “Duncan” is one of those introspective songs that he was so good at creating.

Even at this early stage of his solo career, he had begun to experiment with different sounds that were far removed from the Simon & Garfunkel songbook. “Peace Like A River,” “Everything Put Together Falls Apart,” “Hobo Blues” with its almost bluegrass sound, and “Paranoia Blues” with its subtle blues base all show him beginning to move in different directions with varying degrees of success.

Simon’s self-titled debut was not a cohesive album, nor was it his best. It does catch him completely on his own for the first time and flexing his creative muscles. At the time it was highly praised and remains a good if somewhat simple listen today. It proved to be the first step in a long and complicated journey that would yield decades of superior music.

Live Rhymin’ by Paul Simon

July 19, 2011

Columbia/Legacy has just released four classic Paul Simon solo albums in remastered form with bonus tracks. Paul Simon, Still Crazy After All These Years, There Goes Rhymin’ Simon, and the subject of this review, Paul Simon In Concert: Live Rhymin’ are all memorable albums, which became huge commercial successes by selling millions of copies.

Paul Simon has always been able to write a song. His ability to paint pictures with words has rarely been equaled in American rock music. He has produced lyrics that have been fun, thoughtful, incisive, interesting, and always entertaining. His music would undergo a number of changes down through the years as he would explore a number of styles.

Paul Simon In Concert: Live Rhymin’ was his third album after going solo, but it was the first one that caught my attention. I was a big Simon & Garfunkel fan, and maybe it was my disappointment at their split, but I ignored his first two albums at the time of their initial release. This album was an eye opener for me as it quickly proved that Paul Simon could really sing. I had always considered Art Garfunkel as the superior singer, but here Simon’s voice just soars on their material as well as some of his early solo songs.

The album was recorded during his 1973-74 tour in support of his There Goes Rhymin’ Simon release. It has never been stated at which venues the recordings were made but there is little doubt it was separate concerts. Despite that fact, the album is pieced together well so it presents a short, but effective concert experience.

Simon’s solo career was in its formative stages at the time, so he was relying on the extensive Simon & Garfunkel catalogue for much of his concert material. As such, there is an immediate comfort level. It was interesting at the time to hear him rework such songs as “Sounds Of Silence,” “Homeward Bound,” “The Boxer,” “El Condor Pasa,” and “Bridge Over Troubled Water” to fit his voice, as they were and remain some of the best known songs in American pop music history.

His early solo material was fresh at the time, but now almost forty years later, songs such as “Me and Julio Down By The Schoolyard,” “”Mother and Child Reunion,” “Duncan,” “Loves Me Like A Rock,” and “American Tune” represent the simple period of his career. Today these songs have been overplayed and I can’t help but miss some of his more recent, sophisticated material. Still, if the album is accepted as representative of his career at the time, they still provide a nice listen.

Live Rhymin’ is an album that has been reissued a number of times down through the years. It remains a fine overview of his early solo concert act. It should be a part of any music collection as it is a pleasant way to spend an hour and let your mind wander back to when Paul Simon’s career, and life itself. was a lot more simple.

There Goes Rhymin’ Simon by Paul Simon

July 8, 2011

Columbia/Legacy has just released four classic Paul Simon solo albums in remastered form with bonus tracks. Paul Simon, Still Crazy After All These Years, Paul Simon In Concert: Live Rhymin’ and the subject of this review, There Goes Rhymin’ Simon are all memorable albums, which became big commercial successes by selling millions of copies.

Paul Simon has always been able to write a song. His ability to paint pictures with words has rarely been equaled in American rock music. His lyrics have been fun, thoughtful, incisive, interesting, and always entertaining. His music would undergo a number of changes as his career progressed but here it is simple, even though it explores a number of styles.

There Goes Rhymin’ Simonwas his second solo album after his split from Art Garfunkel. It finds him settling into his career as a solo artist. The album boasted the debuts of a pair of timeless Paul Simon songs. “Kodachrome” and “Loves Me Like A Rock” were perfect radio fare back in 1973.

The four bonus tracks are probably more interesting than essential. They include his work in progress “Let Me Live In Your City,” acoustic demos of “Take Me To The Mardi Gras” and “Loves Me Like A Rock,” and an unfinished demo of “American Tune.”

While the aforementioned “Kodachrome” and “Loves Me Like A Rock” were both huge hit singles and remain the albums memorable tracks, “American Tune” may be the best of the lot. The music is gentle and serves as the background for a mesmerizing look into his own feelings and thoughts at the time. This formula of simple music running counterpoint to complex lyrics would be used many times during his career.

The lesser known songs contained a number of gems. There is the sensitive rendition of “Something So Right,” and the big brassy Dixieland of “Take Me To The Mardi Gras.” “Was A Sunny Day’ takes the listener on a journey to Jamaica. I even like the gentle lullaby, “St. Judy’s Comet.”

There Goes Rhymin’ Simonhas been re-released a number of times down through the years and the music has been readily available, so it will be up to the individual whether they want to invest in this cleaned up version. The album, however, remains an essential listen, and should continually grace anyone’s stereo system, so if you do not own the album or have never bought it in CD form, then this release is a must.

Article first published as Music Review: Paul Simon – There Goes Rhymin’ Simon on Blogcritics.

Homeward Bound 45 by Simon & Garfunkel

June 20, 2011


Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel hit the big time with the release of their “Sounds Of Silence” single during November of 1965. It would top the BILLBOARD MAGAZINE Pop Singles Chart.

On February 12, 1966, they released “Homeward Bound,” which solidified their position as hit makers. It would reach number five on the BILLBOARD Chart.

“Homeward Bound” was a gentle folk song that featured the dual vocals and harmonies of Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel. It would become an early addition to their impressive catalogue of music.

So Beautiful, So What by Paul Simon

June 6, 2011

It has been about five years since Paul Simon has come calling with a new studio album. The good news is that So Beautiful Or So What is his best album since Graceland, although its style and sound is more in line with that album’s successor, Rhythm Of The Saints.

Simon’s voice is always reassuring. And here he appears relaxed, as if he is sitting in his living room performing for a few friends. His poetic ability remains intact as he explores such themes as mortality, eternal life and spirituality.

The album’s musical textures and rhythms are far removed from his Simon & Garfunkel days. He continues to incorporate African rhythms to support his lyrics and at times to run counterpoint to them. In fact, he has become extremely adept at layering various sounds until the instruments blend together into a united whole.

There are a number of very strong, creative tracks. The album opener, “Getting Ready For Christmas Day,” serves to set the tone for what will follow. Its lyrics are based on a 70-plus-year-old sermon by The Reverend J.M. Gates, a fire and brimstone, Heaven and Hell preacher. Simon modernizes his message, layering drums as foundation and enhancement.

The great Christian writer, C.S. Lewis, wrote how he considered Hell would be an endless succession of red tape and administrative layers. ”The Afterlife” adapts those concepts to Simon’s views of Heaven, complete with filling out forms and endless waiting.

The best track may be “Love Is Eternal Sacred Light.” In it Simon admits there are no answers to life’s major questions, but ultimately that is okay. He even pokes some fun of his philosophical predicament.

Later this year Paul Simon will turn 70, an age when the themes he explores here take on added personal importance. As such, with So Beautiful Or So What he has produced a mature work that explores his life’s ongoing journey, doing so through music of depth and beauty.

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The Sounds Of Silence 45 by Simon and Garfunkel

June 14, 2009

“The Sound Of Silence” was a track on Simon & Garfunkel’s first album, Wednesday Morning 3 AM. It was an acoustic album in the folk tradition and quickly disappeared without making much of a commercial impact. Paul Simon left for England shortly thereafter.

Enter producer Tom Wilson who had been listening to the Byrds fusion of country and rock on their classic release “Mr. Tambourine Man.” Without Simon or Garfunkel’s knowledge he electrified the song and released it as a single. When Paul Simon returned from England he found that he had a number one song on his hands. Simon and Garfunkel would go on to create some of the best pop in music history.

“The Sounds Of Silence” remains a signature song from the 1960’s. It’s memorable lyrics and subtle harmonies made it one of the unique songs of its era. It still receives radio airplay today and remains just over three minutes of pop bliss.841g

Live From Philadelphia (DVD) by Paul Simon

May 21, 2009

Let me issue the warning first. If you are a Paul Simon fan, the music presented here was issued in 2003 on a previous DVD titled, Live At The Tower Theatre. Nowhere on the Live From Philadelphia DVD package or in the promotional material is this fact mentioned.

While most people would not want to purchase the same concert material twice, if you do not own the Tower disc you’ll find that the choice of many songs and their presentation are very different from the normal Paul Simon live fare. Plus, he is backed by one of the best bands of his career.

In 1980 Paul Simon was touring in support of his One Trick Pony album. He is backed by drummer Steve Gadd, bassist Tony Levin, keyboardist Richard Tee, and more importantly guitarist extraordinaire Eric Gale. This was the group of musicians who supported him on the album and they are a very tight unit. All but Levin played together in the group Stuff for a number of years. The interaction between Simon and Gale is interesting and ultimately brilliant. Simon plays the rhythm part on the songs and literally could have performed without any other accompaniment. Gale just improvises against this basic sound being laid down by Simon. In some ways this becomes an Eric Gale concert as well. If you are a fan of this late, great guitarist, then this performance is a must.

The set presented on the DVD is short at eleven songs and just under 55 minutes. Paul Simon is in fine vocal form and appears relaxed (and young). It’s nice to see him not surrounded by a multitude of back-up singers and musicians.

Four songs from his One Trick Pony album are performed. The rarely heard “Ace In The Hole” and “Jonah” are given a funky feel. “One Trick Pony” has some wonderful interplay between the bass and Gale’s guitar. Paul Simon’s big hit at the time, “Late In The Evening,” is given a straightforward outing.

Another rarely performed song, “Something So Right,” features some more clean and understated picking by Gale. “Still Crazy After All These Years” has a wonderful jazz feel.

Homage is paid to his Simon & Garfunkel days as the concert closes with “The Boxer” and “The Sounds Of Silence.” While these songs are two of the most over played in their catalogue, Simon gives them freshness.

Live From Philadelphia is a nice relic from the past as it presents Paul Simon at his best.