Title - 'Paul Simon - Songwriter' (Legacy)
Artist - Paul Simon
The latest Paul Simon audio release, Songwriter is a selection of songs chosen strictly by the man himself, and culled from the best of his five decades-long creative musical output.
Included on this 2-disc set are well-known hits, but also some more obscure works. All of which ooze the creative genius of Simon, but some of which you may never actually have heard before.
The distinctly lyrical, always melodic, and rhythmic signature of the great man springs to the fore immediately on the opener, the beautiful, truly stunning 'The Sound of Silence.' But this isn't just any version of his classic song for this is a live cut recorded 06/06/11 at New York's Webster Hall and thus far previously-unreleased. Simon, together with his acoustic guitar joins musical forces to give us a fresh version of an old classic. Then we flashback to Simon & Garfunkel '91 and the Live At Central Park cut, 'The Boxer.'
Next up is the Aretha Franklin-sung 1970 Gospel version of 'Bridge Over Troubled Water,' which I bet many have never heard. Wow, what an incredible studio take of the song she preaches forth. Then comes the reggae funk-bounce of 'Mother And Child Reunion,' from his 1972 self-titled album, before the slowness of 'Tenderness'
and 'Peace Like A River' (songs taken from 1973's There Goes Rhymin' Simon and Paul Simon respectively).
Then we get a very rueful 'American Tune,' before the bouncy vibe gets back under Simon's musical wheels on 'Kodachrome.' Both from the aforementioned There Goes Rhymin' Simon album, we add one more from that release when we slow down for the lush 'Something So Right' - a song that was produced by not only Simon, but Phil Ramone too (as a fair few seemingly were).
From his One Trick Pony album (1980) we get the frantic 'Late In The Evening,' with the soulful 'Train In The Distance' next, which in turn is followed by the relationship-storytelling of 'Hearts And Bones.'
From the album of the same name comes the always-brilliant to hear 'Still Crazy After All These Years' - which is always a treat to hear. Complete with a lovely Michael Brecker saxophone solo, it is followed by the oddly-named 'Rene And Georgette Magritta With Their Dog After The War.' Another track from the '82 Hearts And Bones album, it is followed by a trio of Graceland singles: 'Diamonds On The Souls Of Her Shoes,' which features the emphatic voice of Ladysmith Black Mambazo and the guitar playing of Chikapa 'Ray' Phiri; 'The Boy In The Bubble,' which features Forere Mothoeloa on accordion and Bakithi Kumalo and Vusi Kumalo on bass and drums respectively; and 'Graceland' itself, which brings them all together - inclusive of The Everly Brothers on vocals too!
The second disc opens with the drums of Grupo Cultural Olodum and therefore begins with 'The Obvious Child' from his The Rhythm Of The Saints album from 1990. It then moves on with three other tracks from that very same album in the form of the sweeping 'Further To Fly' - that also features Ringo Starr on guitar; the subtle 'The Cool, Cool River,' complete with Ya Yo de la Nelson on caheire and Nana Vasconcelos on berimbau and gourd; before we get the tribal-sounding 'Spirit Voices' thereafter.
The storytelling of 'Born In Puerto Rico,' from his 1997 album Songs From The Capeman is next, and features trumpet solos from both David Rodriguez and then Ray Vega, with the doo-wop of 'Quality' (featuring falsetto vocals from Frank Negron and duo vocals from both Teana Rodriguez and Myrna Gomila) following along next from the same album. And then, and all from his 2000 album You're The One, come: the beautiful, albeit sad 'Darling Lorraine,' ("your breathing is like an echo of our love"); the search for love in 'Look At That'; and the lyrical wisdom of 'Senorita With A Necklace Of Tears.'
Next is the industrial-sounding 'That's Me,' and also from his Surprise album of 2006 comes the Brian Eno-electronic guidance on 'Another Galaxy.' We then get the trippy 'Father And Daughter' from The Wild Thornberrys Movie soundtrack. Featuring his son Adrian (the first child of Paul and Edie Brickell) on additional vocals it is followed by a trio of songs from his brand new album, So Beautiful Or So What: 'Rewrite,' which comes complete with some astonishing-delicate glass harp from Steve Shehan; the religious 'Love And Hard Times,' with Mick Rossi on piano; and the collection rounds out with the title track itself.
And, adding to the overall package are extensive liner notes by music journalist Tom Moon, who notes that the collection "... features commercial landmarks alongside ambitious and often criminally under-appreciated compositions." I couldn't have said it better myself, Tom, I just couldn't.