Wednesday, 1 August 2018

Paul Simon - There Goes Rhymin' Simon (1973)


Released May 1973

Recorded at Muscle Shoals, Alabama and London

This a delightfully mature and nonchalantly laid-back, relaxing album. Leaving behind some of the reggae rhythms of 1971's "Paul Simon", we get a more polished, reflective collection.


1. Kodachrome
2. Tenderness
3. Take Me To The Mardi Gras
4. Something So Right
5. One Man's Ceiling Is Another Man's Floor
6. American Tune
7. Was A Sunny Day
8. Learn How To Fall
9. St. Judy's Comet
10. Loves Me Like A Rock

The lively, energetic "Kodachrome" starts the album in fine fashion, while "Tenderness" is a lovely, laid-back, piano and bass-driven ballad. Then comes my favourite, and one of my all-time best songs of Simon's - the wonderfully atmospheric groove of "Take Me To The Mardi Gras". I remember first hearing this as a young teenager, fourteen I think, one hot day in May 1973 on my tiny transistor radio and I was just entranced. I can still remember that moment. Paul Simon's voice, the effortless instrumental sound, and, of course that thoroughly addictive New Orleans brass sound at the end. "Something So Right" continues the relaxing, tranquil feel of the album. "One Man's Ceiling Is Another Man's Floor" is a powerful, bluesy number with some excellent boogie-woogie piano half way through and a strong, vibrant bass throughout. Some gospel vocals join in too, to see the song out.

"American Tune" is lyrically beautiful and observantly cynical. It is beautifully orchestrated too. "Was A Sunny Day" revisits some of that Caribbean vibe again, with a lilting, calypso-style rhythm, although at times Simon's cod-Caribbean voice is a tad embarrassing. However, you can't really dislike the song in any way. "Learn How To Fall" is a summery number, with some pumping brass passages underpinning the chorus in the sort of way that would be used fifteen or more years later on "The Rhythm Of The Saints". "St. Judy's Comet" has a warm bassy sound as Simon sings a lullaby over the insistent, full beat. It is actually quite beautiful. It has some hypnotic percussion too. "Loves Me Like A Rock" is instantly recognisable as Simon whoops it up with a gospel choir. Track that will always be referenced as archetypal Paul Simon.

Everything about the album is pleasant - the gentle melodies and Simon's always interesting lyrics and gentle vocal delivery. Yet, despite all that, I don't feel the album is an absolute classic. It is one of those "wash over you" albums that provides a most enjoyable forty minute or so, but not one that gets you thinking "wow!". Maybe it is because Simon is so good, you just find you expect just a little more. Maybe this is a little harsh, because it is still an excellent album.


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