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.