"First of all, I've got to get this off my shoulders: pay NO attention to the star rating. Looks like I can't get around it, but really, my star ratings don't mean much by themselves-it's all in the review here what I really think. OK, that being said, this album is a must for any Simon and Garfunkel fan. Their first album as S&G, it's unfortunate that this gem is, in my opinion, somewhat underexposed. It's an almost motley array of completely acoustic folk music, but there is enough really strong, beautiful material on here to hold it all together. Let's go over what's on here, shall we?
If you can manage to put all the existing circumstances out of your mind for a moment, "You Can Tell the World" S&G do a stirring, soulful rendition of this folksy, gospel-y, upbeat tune. Forget the overly harsh criticism you may have heard on this song-it's great music, pure and simple. "Last Night I Had the Strangest Dream" is a somewhat more benign rendition of an old 60s-classic. I got a kick out of the atypical instrumentals on this, but it's not really my favorite sounding song on this album. (Though they do a fine job with it.) "Bleeker Street" is, I believe, the most under-appreciated and wonderful song here. It's very "Paul Simon-ish"-you know immediately who wrote this powerful and understated song. It's just beautiful is all, the harmonies sounding especially great on this song. "Sparrow" is another similarly identifiable song, and I especially love the last verse. It's another powerful and wonderfully simple song by the time you get to the end. "Benedictus" is very well sung, though it perhaps feels somewhat out of place although the album is somewhat eclectic. Anyway, it's interesting to hear them doing this song, but not my personal favorite.
Then we come to "The Sound of Silence." The version on here is absolutely superb. Without the drums and electric guitar that were added into the more familiar version, it has a sound similar to "Bleeker Street" and "Sparrow." I'm thinking that I might prefer this version...Anyway, "He was my brother" is my other favorite song on here (along with "Bleeker Street"...and maybe some others; it changes every time I listen!). It's very folksy, but more up-tempo than some of the previous songs. Aside from the great sound of this song, the lyrics are very heartfelt and harshly moving. (I read that he probably wrote it for a friend who was killed working for civil rights...) The traditional "Peggy-o" is nice enough, but it feels like a somewhat unnecessary addition, a bit fluffy I suppose. "Go Tell It on the Mountain" is another gospel-y, upbeat song, sung soulfully. The lyrics of "The Sun Is Burning" are interesting to listen to, but the sound of the song is less captivating for me. Though it is in keeping with other songs on the album, the sound (until the ending) is very sweet and quiet. But then I suppose that plays up the irony of the song, and it is disturbingly effective at the end in talking about the horrors of warlike violence. "The Times They Are A-Changin'" is a great Dylan cover, with nice harmonies and a rigorous sound. Finally, "Wednesday Morning, 3 A.M." is interesting but a bit too sweet sounding for me. I must say that I don't dislike it, I just don't listen to it much. (But look! A Paul Simon song that doesn't really rhyme!) On their next album, "The Sound of Silence," there's a more rock-like re-working of it. ("Somewhere They Can't Find Me")
Hey look I've written another long and overly detailed review! What a surprise! Anyway, this is a great album, particularly if you're already an S&G fan. It's the beginnings of all that Simon-and-Garfunkel-y-ness, it's interesting to hear where they're coming from after you hear their later albums. So forget the harsh criticism of this album as to simple or motley-it's not at all. This is an essential folk recording, various but somehow coherent, subtle but definitely not simplistic. Go back and give it a listen, there's some really really wonderful stuff on here."
Marc Ruby? | Warren, MI USA | 08/24/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"For most if 1964 I was a college freshman, lost in the wilderness of academic achievement. And, despite the crowds about me, mostly alone. I had arrived with a taste for coffee houses and folk music, two things that the great Midwest was still largely without. If it hadn't been for the occasional song on the radio and guitarists on building steps it would have been a dry, astringent place.In the midst of this wandered Simon and Garfunkel, who - because they had managed to bridge the gap between pop, rock, and folk - achieved enough popularity to be heard often. 'Wednesday Morning, 3 AM' was almost before my time. Lacking a turntable of my own, I only knew it in fragments. So now, 35 years later, listening to it from end to end, it still sounds fresh to me.This was a debut album. Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel had made a name for themselves as performers, and now this was an opportunity not to be missed. Despite Simon's remarkable skills as a songwriter, the album consists mostly of 'borrowed' songs. Only four were his own efforts. All display the eclectic tastes that was to mark the efforts this team, and then Simon alone as special to many from that era on.In retrospect, the music of this album - guitar and two voice harmony - is simple and straitforward. Satisfyingly so, since most were chosen for content not just 'feeling good.' They ask questions, some of which have never really been answered - that are just as pertinent today as they were then. Thus it is in the design of the album, not in the individual songs, that the true richness and complexity lays, as we travel a range from reflective to jarringly tragic.If you are used to the later work of this team, your first reaction to this album may be a bit doubtful. This is more intimate and less adventurous than what was to when Paul Simon took over all the songwriting. There are foreshadowing's of the coming years, but 'Wednesday Morning, 3 AM' stands very much on its own. I find on repeated listening that it has become one of my favorites. Hopefully, it will be one of yours."
The debut album of Simon & Garfunkle the folk singers
Lawrance M. Bernabo | The Zenith City, Duluth, Minnesota | 01/31/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)
"We do not really think of Simon & Garfunkel as being a folk group, mainly because when "The Sounds of Silence" became a big hit and a signature song of the 1960s it had been electrified. But when you listen to their first album, "Wednesday Morning, 3 A.M.," it becomes clear from the opening track, "You Can Tell the World," that they were a folk duo. Of course there is the obligatory Dylan song, "The Times They Are-A Changin'," Sixties songs like "Last Night I had the Strangest Dream," and traditional songs like "Go Tell It On the Mountain" to add to the folk song bona fides of the album.
In retrospect what is interesting is Paul Simon's attempt to write folk songs, a category into which "The Sounds of Silence" does not fall. Of those original songs, "He Was My Brother" is the one most in keeping with the spirit of the Sixties, while "Bleecker Street" evinces the delicate music he could write. But Simon is still learning his craft, as evidenced by "Sparrow," which tends to be a bit pretentious. Then there is Simon & Garfunkle's rendition of the traditional song "Benedictus," which gets a bit electrified as well. There is a real sense that the duo are still learning their craft and just beginning to find the sound that would define them.
In addition to be digitally remastered, this version of "Wednesday Morning, 3 A.M. includes a trio of bonus tracks, which consist of bare boned demo version of Simon's "Bleecker Street" and alternate takes of his "He Was My Brother" and the cover of "The Sun is Burning." But even with those additions this remains an interesting but not great debut album by a duo that would continue to improve with each and every album they put out until they reached the pinnacle with "Bridge Over Troubled Water" and then called it quits when they were literally on top of the music world."
Their debut album
GTTF | USA | 12/17/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)
"This has an acoustic "Sounds of Silence" with no drums in it, a unique version. This is Simon and Garfunkel's debut album. In the artwork Garfunkel tells Simon that they should get a job and they sure did, considering they brough over 500,000 people to their concert in 1981, over 15 years after this album was released. The only reason this album is a 4 in my opinion is it has very few popular songs on it as opposed to most other S&G albums. If you are a huge fan of the group, this album is a must, but if you just like their popular songs, go for the greatest hits cds."