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Song For The Asking is a public fan site for information on Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel. Site design and maintenance by R. D. Riet. Design Copyright (c) 1997-2002 Random Duck Design. All rights reserved.
Song For The Asking
Discography

NOTE: This is a list of my own opinions regarding the albums of Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel. It is by no means a definitive guide to their works. It is, however, an item of reference, so that you don't have to go into any of these albums completely blind. (Though it can sometimes be said that you enjoy an album more if you don't already have a preset opinion on its author, contents, or other peoples' opinion.)

Just remember - your mileage may vary, and my criticism of an album should, by no means, be the be-all, end-all statement about any Simon or Garfunkel release.


Simon & Garfunkel albums | Paul Simon solo albums | Art Garfunkel solo albums


Simon and Garfunkel Albums

Wednesday Morning 3 A.M.
* * * * (out of five)

Buy it: Remastered CD | iTMSicon

The first full album of Simon and Garfunkel work, this album is very basic. All of the arrangements are acoustic, and many of the songs are church hymns. However, it is wonderful to hear songs like "The Sound Of Silence" without the electric backing band. The mix of the album also allows the listener to hear each vocal line individually, as Paul and Art are panned to opposite speakers. This album, however short it is, is high-energy, fun stuff.

The 2001 remaster includes three bonus tracks, all demos: "Bleecker Street," "He Was My Brother," and "The Sun Is Burning." The sound quality of the remaster is incredible, and makes it worth the upgrade.

Sounds Of Silence
* * * 1/2

Buy it: Remastered CD | iTMSicon

This album was fueled by the success of Bob Johnston's "electrified" mix of "The Sound Of Silence." While this heavier sound would later be put to good use by Simon and Garfunkel, this album can't escape its true self: a group of acoustic songs sloppily overdubbed and/or hurriedly recorded by Bob Dylan's band. The songs, themselves, are really great, though - "Leaves That Are Green" has always been a favourite, although I prefer the version on The Paul Simon Songbook . Still enjoyable, but sounds very dated.

The 2001 remaster includes four bonus tracks: "Blues Run The Game" (previously available on Old Friends), "Barbriallen," "Rose Of Aberdeen," and "Roving Gambler," the latter three tunes being 1970 demo recordings. The sound quality of the remaster is incredible, and makes it worth the upgrade.

Parsley, Sage, Rosemary and Thyme
* * * *

Buy it: Remastered CD | iTMSicon

This time, they get the mix of electric and acoustic right, by recording Simon and Garfunkel with the backing band, instead of using separate sessions. Due to this, the album has a much tighter, more polished sound. Art's vocals come to the fore on the title track, while the balance of the material is wonderfully written and performed. Paul later deemed a lot of the songs on this album as "throwaways," but many feature some of the most well-crafted lyrics of his career (including his recent works).

The 2001 remaster includes two bonus tracks, both demos: "Patterns" and "A Poem On The Underground Wall." The sound quality of the remaster is incredible, and makes it worth the upgrade.

The Graduate (original soundtrack)
* * * 1/2

Buy it: Regular CD | iTMSicon | DVD [NTSC] | VHS [NTSC]

The soundtrack to Mike Nichols' landmark 1967 film featured the handiwork of Simon & Garfunkel and Dave Grusin. Having heard an early version of "Mrs. Robinson" (then titled "Mrs. Roosevelt"), Nichols asked S&G to write a musical score for his upcoming film of lost youthful innocence. Caught up in the whirlwind of producing a new S&G studio album, the only new songs to materialize are an embryonic version of "Mrs. Robinson," a remake of "The Big Bright Green Pleasure Machine" and different mixes of "Scarborough Fair" and "The Sound Of Silence." All of these, though, are essential listening for the completist. Grusin's work on the album includes some wonderful late-60s style instrumental filler that makes for good background music at a cocktail party.

Bookends
* * * * 1/2

Buy it: Remastered CD | iTMSicon

The first "concept album" by Simon and Garfunkel, this album displays a wide range of songs, highlighting the burgeoning skills of both Simon and Garfunkel. This is the first S&G album produced by Roy Halee, and the sound is full and lush. Many of the songs on the first side (of the LP) are crossfaded into each other, creating a seamless portrait of a man's life (the two "Bookends Theme" pieces neatly introduce and close the side). The other tracks are some of the strongest songs the duo ever recorded, including "Mrs. Robinson" and "Hazy Shade Of Winter." This album showcases Simon and Garfunkel at their peak.

Mobile Fidelity Sound Labs released a gold CD version of Bookends in 1998, using the recently-found twin-track master tapes used for Old Friends. The sound was pristine, and the package included a miniature reproduction of the poster included in original LP pressings of Bookends. This CD was a limited-edition release, and disappeared from store shelves by mid-1999. If anything, it's worth seeking out for the mini-poster and gorgeous gold disc.

The 2001 remaster shares the same sound as its MFSL predecessor, as well as two bonus tracks: "You Don't Know Where Your Interest Lies" (B-side to the "Fakin' It" 45rpm single, previously featured on Old Friends) and a demo of "Old Friends."

Bridge Over Troubled Water
* * * * *

Buy it: Remastered CD | iTMSicon

While Simon and Garfunkel had their personal differences mar the creation of this album (eventually nixing the inclusion of "Cuba Si, Nixon No" from the lineup), the final product is the best album - bar none - of 1970. To me, it is also the best album of Paul Simon's career (but not by much). Art shines on the title track and on the standout tracks "So Long, Frank Lloyd Wright," "Why Don't You Write Me," and "El Condor Pasa." Paul shines on "Only Living Boy In New York," "Keep The Customer Satisfied," and perhaps one of his most delicate-yet-pointed tunes, "Song For The Asking." There isn't a bad song on this album.

In 1996, Sony's Legacy Recordings division released a gold CD of Bridge Over Troubled Water that was remastered from the original twin-track master tape. The sound quality was a stunning improvement over previously-available CDs of Bridge. The gold CD was reissued in a smaller package in 1997, and was deleted in 1998. In 1999, Columbia's UK wing reissued the same remastering as part of its "Millennium Edition" series of CDs. This reissue lacked the gold disc, but featured a gorgeous mini-LP package, with a slipsleeve for the disc and a poster featuring the original LP backside, with its lyrics and album credits.

The 2001 remaster includes even better sound from the 1997 Bob Irwin remastering sessions, as well as two bonus tracks: "Feuilles-O" (a demo previously released on Old Friends) and an early take of "Bridge Over Troubled Water." The sound quality of the remaster is incredible (even better, in many respects, than the 1996 remaster), and makes it worth the upgrade.

Simon and Garfunkel's Greatest Hits
* * * 1/2

Buy it: Regular CD | iTMSicon

This collection isn't the most representative collection of Simon and Garfunkel's works, although it does have its moments. There are some wonderful live renditions of S&G classics - my favourite is "The 59th Street Bridge Song (Feelin' Groovy)." Still, some of the crossfades are irritating. Whoever thought that stripping "Old Friends" off of "Bookends" was a good idea is pretty weird. Also, why not move "Cecilia" toward the middle of the tracklist; its booming clatter sounds very awkward after the placid "Bookends." This disc is an okay place to start, but a wiser buy would be to purchase the individual albums or Collected Works . The European hits collections (called either "The Best of Simon and Garfunkel" or "The Definitive Simon and Garfunkel") are much better selections, though for the price of one of the European discs you can get two (sometimes three) of the full albums.

Simon And Garfunkel Collected Works
* * * *

Buy it: Regular CD

The was a great way to get all five S&G studio albums in one, easy-to-handle package; this package has been deleted and superseded by The Columbia Studio Recordings 1964-1970. Collected Works will soon disappear from most retail channels.

Collected Works was first made available in 1980 on 5 LPs; it was reissued in 1990 on 3 CDs. The packaging states that the CDs were "digitally remastered." This is not true - Roy Halee admits that the masters for the CDs in this collection are no different than those of the non-remastered CDs (save for the SBM 20-bit remastered version of Bridge). The 2001 remasters completely eclipse the sound quality of Collected Works. Still, this set is very handy. The complete lyrics to each of the 5 included albums are included in a 44-page booklet, though the liner notes (stories behind the songs, etc.) from the first three albums are not included. The first four albums are consolidated onto 2 CDs. The only track which wasn't included on this set is the studio version of "You Don't Know Where Your Interest Lies," the B-side to "Fakin' It." A decent purchase if you don't mind the inferior sound, since this set often can be purchased for less than the sum total of the 5 individual CDs.

The Concert in Central Park
* * * 1/2

Buy it: Regular CD | 2-disc Bonus Set | VHS [NTSC]

The "big rock reunion event of 1981," the concert was captured on tape for this CD and its accompanying video. The show is far from the best S&G show, although the momentum of the gig is fairly spirited. The folk-rock sound of the S&G canon has a decidedly late-70s Simon sound, with a large backing band filling up the "sounds of silence." Art's voice is a bit rough in spots (he had a cold at the time), and he sometimes drags the tempo a bit. Paul's voice is in fine form this night, although numerous gigs like this eventually reduced his voice to a less versatile instrument. The video has some extra tracks, including the first public performance of "The Late Great Johnny Ace," which is memorable for a deranged fan's stage "dive" towards Paul. The sound quality of the CD and LP is a bit harsh, with too much emphasis on treble. Later shows on this tour were much better, but this show is the easiest to find.

The Definitive Simon & Garfunkel
* * * *

This set - compiled by Art Garfunkel - is perhaps the best "hits" collection for a newcomer. While the sound isn't on a par with the new Best of set, it is a well-planned, fun compilation. The disc is only available in the U.S. as an import.

Old Friends
* * * * 1/2

Buy it: Longbox CD | Cube-box CD | iTMSicon

For many years, fans of Simon & Garfunkel yearned for some buried treasures to surface (within official channels - unofficial channels had been used for some time). Finally, in 1997, Sony's Legacy Recordings wing released this stellar 3-disc set. While it isn't quite as loaded with rare gems as many had hoped, the new live material and rare studio tracks (such as "You Don't Know Where Your Interest Lies" ) are wonderful. In addition, this set marks the first time since the 1960s that the original twin-track and multi-track masters of the S&G canon have been used for mastering. The proof is in the sound, and the sound quality of this set is remarkable, especially on all pre-Bridge material. The booklet is full of rare photos and an informative essay by David Fricke of Rolling Stone. A must-have for any fan. In August 2001, Sony/Legacy reissued Old Friends in cube-shaped packaging, seemingly to save production costs. The booklet was reformatted, but otherwise the contents are the same.

The Best of Simon & Garfunkel
* * * *

Buy it: Regular CD | iTMSicon

The 1999 holiday season brings this new disc, a replacement for the 1972 Greatest Hits disc. All tracks are remastered from the original twin- and multi-track tapes, and the set has been fleshed-out with "all" of the charting S&G hits. The lone rarity for the hardcore fan is the single mix (in mono) of "Fakin' It." While this isn't necessarily a "fan's delight," the disc is a great compendium of the duo's core hits.

Tales From New York: The Very Best of Simon & Garfunkel
* * * *

Buy it: Import CD

Need more songs than The Best of Simon & Garfunkel? Seek out this non-U.S. 2CD set. This is a much more balanced anthology than the single-disc U.S. set, and, like its counterpart, all tracks are remastered from the original twin- and multi-track tapes. Similarly, the lone rarity for the hardcore fan is the single mix (in mono) of "Fakin' It." This is a great collection to take on vacations, and a wonderful set for the casual fan.

The Columbia Studio Recordings 1964-1970
* * * *

Buy it: Remastered CDs

This is a deluxe box set of the 2001 remastered CDs, and a worthy replacement for Collected Works. All five of the studio albums (with the new bonus tracks) are included, each in its own mini-LP sleeve (the individual remastered discs are in traditional jewel cases). The set includes a 72-page booklet featuring complete lyrics, photos, original LP liner notes, and new notes and commentary by Bud Scoppa. The sound quality of these CDs is superb, and the bonus tracks are a lot of fun. Much attention was paid to the details of this package. My only quips are that the scan quality of the LP artwork (especially back sides) isn't as good as it could be, and that each disc is still quite short - there could easily be more bonus material on each CD. Still, this is an awesome set for any fan, and worth the asking price. Completists will still need The Graduate (original soundtrack), Old Friends, The Best of Simon & Garfunkel and Simon & Garfunkel's Greatest Hits to have the complete Columbia canon.

Live In New York City, 1967
* * * *

Buy it: Regular CD | Limited Edition | iTMSicon

The only full-length official live recording of Simon & Garfunkel, this disc captures their entire show (less one song - "Red Rubber Ball," which appears on Old Friends) from Lincoln Center on 22 January, 1967. The CD was lovingly remastered by Vic Anesini and features spirited performances and an interesting setlist. One of the highlights is a live performance of "Hazy Shade Of Winter," at the time one of Paul's newest songs (and a tough one to do live, it would seem). Four tracks appeared on Old Friends. Liner notes are by Anthony DeCurtis of Rolling Stone. There are two packaging options: a regular jewel case, and a "Limited Edition" digipak with holographic enhancements.

The Essential Simon & Garfunkel
* * * *

Buy it: Remastered CD

The new, US-domestic hits set, released to coincide with the 2003 "Old Friends" tour. This set has 40 tracks, all remastered, with quite a few live cuts. It should be a nice alternative for those who don't wish to track down Tales From New York, and a great set of discs for the car.

Paul Simon solo albums

The Paul Simon Songbook
* * * *

Buy it: Regular CD

This album is now available on CD (release date is March 23, 2004), and it features bonus tracks! This is a fascinating collection of what essentially are demos of later Simon and Garfunkel music. Paul recorded this album in a few hours, using one microphone in a small London studio. Many of the songs became S&G songs, but a few ("A Church Is Burning," "The Side Of A Hill," and an early version of "A Simple Desultory Philippic") never made it past this stage. Paul tries to act hip in his introductions to the songs, but what matters is the music, which is wonderful. This one is worth the wait!

Paul Simon
* * * *

Buy it: Regular CD

This album marked Paul's first post-S&G foray into music, and he didn't disappoint. Compared to the lush production of Bridge Over Troubled Water, this album is a sparse, barren collection of potent songs. Paul scored his first post-S&G hit with "Me And Julio Down By The Schoolyard," while the rest of the album explored other areas of Paul's acoustic repertoire, from the Andean-influenced "Duncan" to the fun jaunt of "Hobo Blues" (which features jazz violinist Stefane Grapelli). A fine step into a new world.

There Goes Rhymin' Simon
* * * * *

Buy it: Regular CD

Only one year after Paul proclaimed his solo career as a serious venture, he released this landmark album. The sound was much more lush this time around, as Paul began to experiment more with Latin rhythms and strong production. "Kodachrome" and "Loves Me Like A Rock" were instant hits, with catchy tunes and fine lyrics. "St. Judy's Comet" is Paul's quintessential lullaby, and "American Tune" perhaps his most potent assessment of American culture. Even the non-hit tracks - like "One Man's Ceiling Is Another Man's Floor" and "Learn How To Fall" - are skillfully-crafted songs. This album is Paul's 1970's masterpiece.

Live Rhymin'
* * * *

Buy it: Regular CD

To me, this is Paul's best live album (aside from the televised "MTV Unplugged" special). Paul's voice is in rare form, the performances are lively, and the setlist explores many facets of Paul's repertoire. The live renditions of "Duncan" and "The Boxer" are, to me, the best performances *ever* of these songs. Paul is joined onstage by Urubamba (an Andean musical troupe) and The Jesse Dixon Singers, who provide a soulful gospel backup to the latter half of the set.

Still Crazy After All These Years
* * * *

Buy it: Regular CD

A strong album, Still Crazy suffers from being a bit too formulaic - Paul seems to have hit a comfortable coast in this album. The title track and "I Do It For Your Love" were big hits, as was the Simon and Garfunkel reunion tune, "My Little Town" (which also appeared on Art's Breakaway ). The supporting material isn't as good, to these ears, as the material on There Goes Rhymin' Simon . Still, though, this is a fine album of fine songs.

Greatest Hits, Etc.
* * * 1/2

Now out-of-print, this album brought together some of Paul's best-known solo songs, along with two new songs ("Stranded In A Limousine" and "Slip Slidin' Away") and a splendid live rendition of "American Tune." This album was issued to help Paul fill out the last of his contract with Columbia Records, as he had signed on with Warner Brothers, who allowed him the opportunity to film his movie, One Trick Pony, Simon originally wanted this album to be a collection of cover tunes, but the folks at Columbia wouldn't allow such a project to happen.

Paul Simon Collected Works
* * * * 1/2

Also out-of-print, this 1980 collection rounded up Paul Simon, There Goes Rhymin' Simon, Live Rhymin' and Still Crazy After All These Years into one box. The Paul Simon Songbook is included as a bonus album, making its only domestic (U.S.) production appearance. Today, this set is one of the easiest ways to get a copy of Songbook, though the cover work for the individual albums is contained in a booklet and is not full-LP size.

One Trick Pony
* * * 1/2

Buy it: Regular CD | VHS [NTSC]

A soundtrack album for Paul's venture into film making, this collection is hit-or-miss, though Paul's band is very strong. Backed by Tony Levin (bass), Steve Gadd (drums), Eric Gale (electric guitar) and Richard Tee (keyboards), Paul wrote One Trick Pony in a conscious effort to try something new. The film followed the life of Jonah Levin as he tried to stage a comeback after being a "one trick pony" (a one-hit wonder). Paul's screenplay and awkward acting made for a rather disjointed film, but the music is fairly good. "Jonah" and "Slip Slidin' Away" are wonderful songs, as are the rest of the tunes which fill out the album. Removed from the context of the film, though, they don't shine as well as some of Paul's classics. The film contains one "exclusive" song: "Soft Parachutes" was Jonah's "hit" from the 1960s, and seems like Paul's tribute to 60s anti-war anthems, such as "Eve Of Destruction."

Hearts And Bones
* * * * *

Buy it: Regular CD

A transitional album for Paul, this album was to be his full-album reunion with Artie. Originally titled Think Too Much , the project was started in 1981, and a rough cut of the album was compiled in early 1982 (see ROIO page for more details). After delays, however (most involving artistic control), Artie returned to acting, leaving Paul to put the finishing touches on this moving and personal album. To me, this is Paul's finest solo effort. "Hearts And Bones" is a powerful ode to lost love. "The Late Great Johnny Ace" is a tribute to three fallen heroes in Paul's life: Johnny Ace (a 1950's musician), John Kennedy, and John Lennon. The rest of the album is equally strong (save perhaps for "Cars Are Cars"), and each song has its own strength which makes for a thoroughly satisfying album. Paul has said that he dislikes the production of this album; I find it thoroughly engaging. This is a must-buy.

Graceland
* * * * *

Buy it: Regular CD

Paul's mid-1980's "comeback," this album is also one of Paul's finest. Seeking inspiration from African rhythms, Graceland is a bold statement with strong songs. The title track, "You Can Call Me Al," and "Diamonds On The Soles Of Her Shoes" each were bit hits. Aside from the hit songs, there is strong supporting material on this album. "Under African Skies" is a beautiful duet with Linda Ronstadt which showcases Paul's never-flagging ability to compose multi-part harmony. "Homeless" is a showcase for Ladysmith Black Mombazo, a group which has since achieved worldwide fame and fortune, thanks in large part to this album. This album successfully unites the tuneship of Paul Simon with the musical styles of Africa.

Negotiations and Love Songs
* * * *

Buy it: Regular CD

A new greatest hits collection, replacing Greatest Hits, Etc. after Paul's back-catalogue contract with CBS finally lapsed. This CD gathers many of Paul's biggest hits from 1971 thru 1986. In doing so, it abandons an original tune ("Stranded In A Limousine") and unique live mix ("American Tune") included on the original greatest hits package. Since this disc covers a greater period of time than its predecessor, it is forced to take such time-conserving measures. The one semi-unique track on this CD is the single mix of "50 Ways To Leave Your Lover." This is a decent collection for the casual fan who is content to do without material from Rhythm Of The Saints.

Rhythm Of The Saints
* * * 1/2

Buy it: Regular CD

The South American-influenced follow-up to Graceland, this album seems to be a concerted attempt to make lightning strike twice. Paul infuses Brazilian rhythms into the sounds of his previous African-styles work, and the results are more erratic. "The Obvious Child," "The Cool, Cool River" and "Born At The Right Time" hit the mark, as does "Proof." But other songs tend to carry on for far too long, and leave me bored. I occasionally call this album "Variations on a Theme of 'Cecilia.'" In many respects (the notable exception being "The Obvious Child"), this album fails to live up to the spontaneous nature of the classic S&G tune. To me, this album is too derivative. Where Graceland is Paul's equivalent of a gold chalice, Rhythm Of The Saints is more of a copper kettle.

Paul Simon's Concert In The Park
* * * *

Buy it: Regular CD | VHS [NTSC]

On 17 August 1991, Paul took his traveling road show to Central Park, roughly 10 years after he and Artie took over the same parcel of land in their comeback gig. Paul and his band are hot this evening, and while it may not be their most explosive show of the 1991 tour, they play fun renditions of songs from Rhythm Of The Saints and Graceland, as well as a decent selection of songs from earlier in Paul's career. If you missed the tour, this CD (or its companion video) show an "over-the-top" presentation of the tour. In my opinion, this isn't Paul's best live CD (Live Rhymin' takes that prize), but it's still a great set.

1964/1993
* * * 1/2

Buy it: Regular CD

A "definitive" 3 CD box set, though the tracklist is heavily weighted towards Simon's later works (Graceland and Rhythm Of The Saints). Notable for fairly clean remastering of selected S&G songs (such as "America," "The Sound Of Silence," and others from the S&G hits CD), the only CD issue of a track from Songbook ("Leaves That Are Green"), and select unreleased recordings (the demo for "Bridge Over Troubled Water," the Rhythm outtake "Thelma"). This set is both a triumph and a disappointment. The remastered S&G tracks are stunning (though not as stunning as Old Friends - their limited number is due to contractual squabbles with Columbia, who still owns the masters for all S&G studio work), the demos and rare tracks are great, and the included book is well-written and insightful. The low points, however, are many. The individual CD cases lack front covers. Dedicating an entire disc to material from Graceland and Rhythm is excessive - Simon omitted many wonderful songs from the '60s and '70s in order to include later material. Lastly, the set is pricey, selling for upwards of $50 for the three discs, the booklet and the box. Certainly, more could have been done. As it is, this box is a great gift for a newcomer to the art of Paul Simon. For the experienced listener or fan, it offers far too little to be considered "essential" or "definitive." (Note - a 2 CD version of this set is available in Europe and Asia as Paul Simon Anthology, paring the first two discs of '60s and '70s material down to a single disc.)

Songs From The Capeman
* * * *

Buy it: Regular CD

Simon's "preview" of his 1998 Broadway musical is a lovely collection of latino-infused doo-wop and world music. Although this album is a very loose production, Simon's songcraft shows through (as do, sometimes, the words of Derek Wolcott, Simon's collaborator on the libretto for the musical), often with stellar results. "Born In Puerto Rico," "Bernadette" and "Trailways Bus" (a staple of his 1999 summer shows with Bob Dylan) are amongst the finest songs Paul has written since the formal launch of his solo career. As the wait continues for a proper soundtrack to the musical (Dreamworks SKG has been sitting on the master tapes for over two years), this is the best "snapshot" of the music from Paul Simon's ambitious-yet-flawed Broadway musical.

Greatest Hits: Shining Like A National Guitar
* * * 1/2

Buy it: Import CD

Another hits collection? Unavailable in the United States? Yes, this is Paul's newest hits compilation. It covers his entire solo career through 1999, as evidenced by the inclusion of "Trailways Bus" from Songs From The Capeman. This is a nice, balanced collection, and the remastering job is fantastic - possibly a preview of a complete remastering of Paul Simon's catalogue. While Greatest Hits, Etc. features a more unique track list, and Negotiations And Love Songs is a better buy for most U.S. citizens, this is a worthy successor in many respects.

You're The One
* * * * 1/2

Buy it: Regular CD | DVD-Audio

Paul's triumphant return to "the mainstream," You're The One is a wonderful album, perhaps Simon's best since Graceland. The songs have a spontaneous, fresh quality that invites the listener to sit back and enjoy the ride. The songs still contain musical references to Africa and South America, but the music lives in harmony with the percussion, rather than precariously dangling from the heavy drumbeat, as was the case with Rhythm Of The Saints. This album will please many, from the seasoned Simon fan to a newcomer.

The DVD-Audio version of You're The One, released in August 2001, includes a Dolby 5.1 Surround mix of the album. Please note that the DVD-Audio version can only be played on DVD players capable of reading DVD-Audio discs. Consult your DVD player's manual before purchasing this version of YTO.

You're The One (In Concert From Paris)
* * * * 1/2

Buy it: DVD [NTSC] | VHS [NTSC]

If you missed Paul's 2000 tour in support of You're The One, this DVD/VHS is a wonderful snapshot. Filmed over three days in the Olympia Theatre in Paris (two regular shows plus a special third show to get special camera angles), this concert premiered on PBS TV's Great Performances. This video is the unexpurgated version. A fine document of a fine tour.

The Paul Simon Collection: On My Way, Don't Know Where I'm Going
* * * *

Buy it: Deluxe CD with bonus live disc

Another Simon hits collection? Yes - and this one is available in the U.S. In all likelihood released to coincide with the upcoming Kennedy Center Honors, this new collection gathers 19 Simon tracks. As is the case with recent Simon hits collections, the set leans heavily on material from Graceland and after. All-in-all, it's a good collection, but if you already have the 1964/1993 or Shining Like A National Guitar sets, it's fairly redundant.

That being said, the deluxe edition of this album includes a 5-track bonus CD of previously-unreleased live material. This material is well worth the cost, as the performances are wonderful and raw. Representing Paul's 1972 tour, "American Tune" is given a fine, solo acoustic treatment, and "Duncan" features Urubamba in fine form. The other three tracks are more modern in vintage: a 1999 performance of "Mrs. Robinson" from the PaulBob tour, a fun (if slightly rough) working of "Bridge Over Troubled Water" from the 2001 New Orleans Jazz Festival (with Aaron Neville on second vocal), and a solid performance of "The Coast" from the 2002 Montreaux Jazz Festival. If you need justification to get this set, get the deluxe version and hope that Simon someday releases some full-length live concerts on CD.

Paul Simon: The Studio Recordings 1972-2000
* * * 1/2

Buy it: box set

Well, it's finally happened: the Paul Simon catalogue has been remastered, with bonus tracks on each of the albums in this set. All of Simon's post-breakup studio albums - from Paul Simon to You're The One - are included. The bonus tracks run the gamut, from early versions of released songs, to unreleased songs, to live tracks. The sound is gorgeous, and the bonus tracks are worthy additions. The rare and unreleased studio tracks tend to be more intersting on the earlier albums, with post Heart And Bones albums including fewer true gems. Indeed, all of the bonus tracks on You're The One are lifted from the Paris concert DVD. However, the box does not offer any additional liner notes with the albums - all of which will be released on their own in late-July 2004. The slipcase includes scans of early lyrics of "In The Himalayas" (the song that became "Graceland"). Still, this is a fun way to get it all in one place, save for the live albums.

Surprise
* * * *

Buy it: standard CD

A new turn for Simon, who teamed with Brian Eno on this album of songs with a decidedly modern groove. The entire "second side" of the album (tracks 6-11) deals with adopting and raising a child, whereas "side A" deals with more world-weighted topics. "Wartime Prayers," in particular, is one of Simon's best.
Art Garfunkel solo albums

Angel Clare
* * * *

Buy it: Regular CD

This 1973 album marked Art Garfunkel's return to music after 3 years of trying his hand at film acting. Art teamed up with Roy Halee (of S&G fame) to record and produce an album of lavishly produced ballads and choral arrangements. Art's first major solo hit, "All I Know," is the centerpiece of this album. It isn't the best thing on the planet, but it does stand up to repeat listenings.

Breakaway
* * * *

Buy it: Regular CD

Art's strongest solo album variety-wise, this 1975 work is very light and pop-oriented. However, its spirited production (by Phil Ramone) give it life and punch - Art has never sounded better. "My Little Town" is a featured track on this album, marking the first post-breakup studio singing reunion of Simon and Garfunkel. "And I Know" is a great song, and Art's masterful cover of "I Only Have Eyes For You" was Art's first post-breakup number-one hit. This is a fun album for casual listening, and showcases the best of Art Garfunkel's vocal capabilities.

Watermark
* * *

Buy it: Regular CD

Art intended to record an album of Jimmy Webb covers (Webb's biggest hit was "MacArthur Park"), using the backing talent of The Chieftains and David Crosby to bolster his own arrangements. When Watermark bombed in its initial 1977 release, Art returned to the studio, this time with Paul Simon and James Taylor in tow. The result was a laid-back cover of "(What A) Wonderful World" which enjoyed some chart time in 1978. Still, the rest of the album was very uneven, limited both by the songs of Webb and over-the-top production.

Fate For Breakfast
* * 1/2

Buy it: Regular CD

This 1979 release includes some lightweight ballads interspersed with "light-funk" fare. At this point, Garfunkel seemed to lack any focus in his recording career, likely due to his ongoing fascination with film and travel. This album stands, to this critic, as the artistic nadir of Garfunkel's career. The jacket photos are cool, though.

Scissors Cut
* * * 1/2

Buy it: Regular CD

Seeking to find focus in his singing career, Art reunited with Roy Halee in 1981 to record a rather focused, if somewhat watered-down album of cover tunes. The biggest "hit" from this album is "A Heart In New York," which Art popularized at the late-1981 reunion concert in Central Park with Paul Simon. Halee's steady production keeps this album flowing from track to track.

The Animals' Christmas
* * * 1/2

Buy it: Regular CD

Performed with Amy Grant, recorded by Geoff Emerick and written by Jimmy Webb, this album "consumed" Artie for most of the mid-80s. The work, which depicts the Nativity from the point of view of animals, is a lush, intricate holiday treat. While this does limit its appeal (unless listening to holiday music appeals to you in, say, May), it is a fine work. This recording's rights are wholly owned by Art Garfunkel, and the CD can be purchased directly from The Art Garfunkel Website.

Lefty
* * * 1/2

This hard-to-find (as it is now out-of-print everywhere except Japan, where most albums are never "put out to pasture") 1988 album carries a theme throughout its songs: finding comfort in the ordinary pleasures of life and love. Art brought in Geoff Emerick (renowned engineer for The Beatles) to co-produce the album, and the backing musicians included many members of Paul Simon's band. The result is a very complex Garfunkel album which either wins you over (like it did to me) or alienates you from the start. The cover photo is of a very young Art Garfunkel playing stickball in Queens (batting lefty, in case you were wondering).

Up 'Til Now
* * * *

Buy it: Regular CD

This was a "contractual obligation album" (a CD recorded to fill out the requirements of a recording contract, usually to end it) which was released to coincide with the 1993 Simon & Garfunkel reunion tour. As such, it features two S&G "songs": the pre-electric mix of "The Sound Of Silence" and the 1972 radio skit, "The Breakup." A few new songs were included, including a wonderful duet with James Taylor, "Crying In the Rain." The rest of the CD features songs which Art contributed to soundtracks, alternate takes of hits (including a piano-vocal only mix of "All I Know"), and oddities. A fun CD, with enough good material to withstand repeated listenings.

Across America
* * * *

Buy it: Regular CD | DVD [NTSC]

Garfunkel's 1996 live album was recorded in April 1996 at the Registry Hall on Ellis Island, New York. The shows were filmed for a Disney Channel special of the same name. While the TV special has narrative introductions to some of the songs, the CD has edited them out in a rather abrupt manner. However, the performances on the CD are wonderful, with Garfunkel showing the crowd that he still has an angelic voice. Garfunkel lends his interpretation and styling to a selection of Simon & Garfunkel songs, as well as some of his solo hits. This is a wonderful live collection, and showcases Art's strength as a solo performer.

Songs From A Parent To A Child
* * * *

Buy it: Regular CD

Songs From A Parent To A Child is part of Sony Wonder's "Family Artists" series (the best-known CD from this series is Kenny Loggins' Return To Pooh Corner). This disc is very fun for both kids and adults. Artie does a wonderful job singing such classics as "Daydream," "I Will," and "Secret 'O Life." He has vocal duets with his wife ("Who's Gonna Shoe Your Pretty Little Feet") and his (then) 6-year old son, James ("Good Luck Charm"). Art's voice is in fine shape, and the song choices for this disc are wonderful. Garfunkel has created one of the best crossover albums ever made.

Simply The Best
* * * *

Buy it: Import CD

Another non-U.S. hits compilation (seems to be the case with Simon & Garfunkel), Simply The Best is a nice cross-section of Garfunkel's career. The 20 tracks on this CD provide the casual fan a variety of Garfunkel's solo output.

Everything Waits To Be Noticed
* * * * 1/2

Buy it: Regular CD

Garfunkel's first all-new studio album since Songs From A Parent To A Child, this CD features Artie teaming up with folk singer-songwriter Buddy Mondlock and pop singe-songwriter-multi-instrumentalist Maia Sharp, the result being a potent mix of voices and styles that is the best Garfunkel CD since Breakaway. The sound is a jazz-folk-pop fusion that allows eash collaborator to shine. Artie's voice melds with Mondlock's in a way not heard since Simon & Garfunkel, and half of the songs feature writing from Garfunkel - the first time since his Artie Garr days. This CD was a long time coming, and was well worth the wait.

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Last updated: 3 May 2006