A Sophisticated and Influential Album
Stacy F. Starkweather | California | 08/11/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)
"As a seasoned musician of over 40 years, there are not many "lost gems" out there. This is no doubt one of them. While always considered a pop classic, upon listening with fresh ears, I was shocked at how sophisticated and influential this album has become. Many decidedly modern artists clearly owe a debt of gratitude to this album. Beautifully recorded and produced, much of the production style portends to the now fairly common elements of production as exemplified by the Mitchell Froom/Tchad Blake style of recording. Some of the instrumental tracks in the songs are extremely atmospheric, while others are very intimate and up close. Instead of full band arrangements, the rhythmic elements are often sketched out with few parts, another stylistic strategy that is commonly employed now, but in retrospect was so ahead of its time.
The guitar playing is stunning, the arrangements are unique and have clearly influenced everyone from Richard Thompson (Run That Body Down) to Los Lobos (Peace Like a River). The rhythm section work is perfect, and the writing and variety make this a true "album" as opposed to a collection of tunes. Oh yeah, and Mr Simon's vocals are right up front and dry as a bone, with a "in your living room" feel. This album actually sounds like real musicians playing together in real time; these are performances, not assembled tracks. Without a doubt, listening to this will take you back, but it will also take you forward, with a unhurried pace and sound that many are just catching up to.
If you only know Mr. Simon for his world-influenced hits, this album is quite a departure and will open your eyes to his roots. However if your tastes run to the jazzy and modern styles of folk/pop, you will hear where many of today's artists got some of their sound, from Norah Jones to the aforementioned Thompson and Los Lobos. A timeless classic for sure, but also something for the critical listener and the sophisticated music fan who wants to be challenged in her/his listening. You will not be disappointed.
Five star album, 2 stars for the remaster--find the original
Wayne Klein | My Little Blue Window, USA | 06/11/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I was excited when I heard that Paul Simon's back catalog was going to be remastered with bonus tracks. Although Rhino has had some dodgy releases in the past as a far as sound quality for the most part they've done a good job. Prepare to be disappointed with the sound here because "Paul Simon" has been remastered with a loud and often shrill sound. The EQ favors the midrange and the vocals are more prominent here-the latter is a good thing. It isn't the worst remaster I've heard AND the bonus tracks certainly make it worthwhile for big fans of Simon but if you have the previous edition and you don't care for the bonus tracks, stick with the original Warner Brothers CD.
Every one of Simon's albums have been unique with each one having its own distinctive sound. For example, "Paul Simon" finds the artist digging into the sounds of other cultures whether it be the flutes on "Duncan" or "Mother and Child Reunion" with its Reggae influence each song here marries Simon's craft to different textures and genres. What's surprising is that he got so much praise for it with "Graceland" and many critics acted surprised when he's been doing this all along.
The production by Simon and Roy Halee sounds crisp on the original CD and is nicely detailed. The remaster although it has the crispness and detail also suffers from too much midrange AND a compressed sound that impacts the depth of the recording.
The remaster has a nice booklet with the lyrics (just as the original CD did)but doesn't have any thoughts by Simon on the making of the album. The remaster comes in a digipak cardboard holder. If you want this album with terrific sound don't buy the remaster. If you're only getting this for the bonus tracks keep your original CD or vinyl."
(4.5 stars) SIMPLY SIMON ! (Paul's special first solo album
ol' nuff n' den sum | the Virginia coast, USA | 01/28/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Paul Simon is one of America's greatest songwriters. A national treasure. In his prime, he was overshadowed by the poetry of Bob Dylan and the magic of Lennon-McCartney, and is probably underrated because of it. Even so, his songs hold a special place in the heart and soul of America.
Paul Simon (1972) was the first solo album recorded by Simon after his split with Art Garfunkel two years earlier. Front and center are Paul and his acoustic guitar; almost every one of these lean songs feature excellent acoustic guitar work. Subtle horns, drums, keyboards and backing vocals add to the sound here, too, but unplugged is the rule.
The album includes two of Simon's biggest hit singles as a solo artist; the folk/reggae promise of Mother And Child Reunion and the Latin-flavored juvenile crime comedy/drama Me And Julio Down By The Schoolyard (just what did the mama see that was against the law, anyway, Paul?).
Duncan is a 4:39 minute folk song that could be described as an El Condor Pasa (If I Could)/The Boxer hybrid. Paul fingerpicks his acoustic guitar and sings the tale of a fisherman's son while a flute plays in the background. His storytelling skills make this song unique, and it's a real highlight here.
So when I reached my prime
Left my home in the Maritimes
Headed down the turnpike for
New England, sweet New England
Paul gets bluesy with an acoustic bottleneck slide guitar on Paranoia Blues, and jazz violin legend Stephane Grappelli joins Simon for the instrumental duet, Hobo's Blues. Run That Body Down and the resigned Congratulations mirror the tapped-out emotions from Paul's troubled marriage to Peggy Harper (they divorced in 1975).
Oh, seems like you've done it again
And I ain't had such misery
Since I don't know when
Paul Simon isn't the meticulously crafted pop gem that There Goes Rhymin' Simon is or a critically acclaimed world music sensation like Graceland. It is a quiet, thoughtful and well-written collection of songs that showcase the many talents of Paul Simon, plain and simple.
"Holes in my confidence, holes in the knees of my jeans..."