Category: Paul Simon

Paul Simon – Still Crazy After All These Years

ARTIST: Paul Simon      PaulSimonStillCrazyAfterAllTheseYearsCover

TITLE: Still Crazy After All These Years

YEAR RELEASED: 1975

CHART ACTION: #1 US, #6 UK

SINGLES: Gone at Last (#23 US), 50 Way to Leave Your Lover (#1 US, #23 UK), Still Crazy After All These Years (#40 US)

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Only Simon fans know more.

LINEUP: Paul Simon. The main band was Steve Gadd, Tony Levin, and Hugh McCracken but there was a whole bunch of others on various songs. Art Garfunkel dueted on “My Little Town”. Phoebe Snow sang with Simon on “Gone at Last”

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: Third (ok, fourth, but no one remembers his first, and he’d like to forget it, really) solo album finds Simon’s deeper cuts being a little lackluster, or maudlin.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: There’s some great music on this album. Steve Gadd’s drum pattern on “50 Ways to Leave Your Lover” is a marvel to this day, especially on close listen (hearing the interaction of snare, tom and kick drum with chocked hi hat). Yet it seemed that Simon had reached the end of his songbook for the time being.

Unlike his previous two albums, it seemed that the deeper cuts were at times schlocky and at other times derivative of his other work. It’s well produced and impeccably played, but it still seems a bit off.

There’s some great music here, and for that it’s worth a spin. But it doesn’t shine like his other early solo work.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: The title cut was covered by singers as diverse as Rosemary Clooney and Willie Nelson

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: A couple of demo cuts added.

GRADE: B:  Maybe it’s because his other early solo albums were really exemplary, but this one’s just a bit flat.

 

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Paul Simon – There Goes Rhymin’ Simon

ARTIST: Paul Simon                                                 there_goes_rhymin_simon

TITLE:  There Goes Rhymin’ Simon

YEAR RELEASED: 1973

CHART ACTION: #2 US, #4 UK

SINGLES: Kodachrome (#2 US), Loves Me Like a Rock (#2 US, #39 UK), American Tune (#35 US), Take Me to the Mardi Gras (#7 UK)

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: No

LINEUP: Paul Simon and a veritable plethora of session musicians.

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: A quick follow up to his debut is 10 great songs, well-crafted and produced exquisitely.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: Paul Simon is the songwriter’s songwriter. He also knows that you need to have singles and hooks for the radio and the casual fans, but you don’t want to skimp on the deep cuts that the die-hards love.

These ten tracks, recorded over a few months in several locations, display Simon’s gift of melody, song construction, and lyrics. Moving from genre to genre, Simon infuses each song with just the right balance and blend of hook and depth, and makes sure the arrangements and production complement his music and lyrics.  It’s record making 101.

If I have one bad note, it’s the vocals on a couple of tracks, notably in places of “Take Me to the Mardi Gras”, that I believe strains Simon’s voice to a point where it’s just not enjoyable. The song itself is fine, but his falsetto doesn’t work in some of the verses.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: The lead single, “Kodachrome”, couldn’t be played on the radio in the UK because of the mention of a commercial product. Fine, BBC, whatever.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: Yes, some demos.

GRADE: A:  Not quite perfect, but an album you definitely want in your collection, especially if you are an aspiring songwriter.

Paul Simon – Paul Simon

ARTIST: Paul Simon                     PaulSimon-Front

TITLE:  Paul Simon

YEAR RELEASED: 1972

CHART ACTION: #4 US, #1 UK

SINGLES:  Mother and Child Reunion (#4 US, #5 UK), Me and Julio Down by the Schoolyard (#22 US, #15 UK), Duncan (#52 US)

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Peace Like a River

LINEUP: Paul Simon and 24 other session players and singers.

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: First authorized solo record for a beloved songwriter and singer expands his style by incorporating some world music motifs, something he’d return to again and again.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: Almost two years after he split with Art Garfunkel, Paul Simon released his first solo album. With the lead single “Mother and Child Reunion”, Simon stepped into the world of reggae. On other cuts, Simon explored Brazilian rhythms, and still others were simple, bare acoustic songs. Most all of them are poignant and thoughtful, if not a bit oblique.

Even though you definitely recognize Paul Simon, very few of these songs would really fit into a Simon & Garfunkel record. There’s a liberation about them, and also a sense of ownership.

While the big singles are what most people know, the other songs are touching and varied. Simon came out of the gate strong in his solo career, confirming that the breakup of his beloved duo was the best thing for him as an artist.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: He recorded “Mother and Child Reunion” in Jamaica

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: Yes, three demos from 1971 as he was putting together the songs.

GRADE: A: The songs are the thing, and almost all are exemplary.