Monday, 19 November 2018

Paul Simon - Paul Simon (1972)


Released January 1972

After the demise of Simon & Garfunkel the previous year, Paul Simon cast off the shackles off what Simon & Garfunkel had become - big, dramatic ballads like "Bridge Over Troubled Water" without the musical explorations and adventurousness that Simon so liked. He had tried to get them into the duo's work, subtly, but now has was free to do his thing.


1. Mother And Child Reunion
2. Duncan
3. Everything Put Together Falls Apart
4. Run That Body Down
5. Armistice Day
6. Me And Julio Down By The Schoolyard
7. Peace Like A River
8. Papa Hobo
9. Hobo's Blues
10. Paranoia Blues
11. Congratulations

Funnily enough, though, despite the convincing experiment with reggae on "Mother and Child Reunion" and Caribbean calypso-style rhythms and "world music" sounds on "Me And Julio Down By The Schoolyard" (the album's two big hit singles) the album was pretty low key. Quiet, gentle songs, intelligent, perceptive lyrics. Simon set his stall out for many subsequent albums. "Duncan" is a beguiling, interesting song, with a witty first couple of lines and "Everything Put Together Falls Apart" is a laid-back, walking pace acoustic number, of the type that would typify much of Simon's work over the next few years. "Run That Body Down" is wry and observantly astute. This is a long way removed from the grandiose, stately ballads of Simon & Garfunkel. The latter track has some fetching wah-wah style guitar in the middle. It is a "grower" of a song and one of my favourites on the album. Simon began a tradition that would serve him well over the years - employing the finest musicians.

"Armistice Day" sees Simon delving into the blues, with some impressive guitar backing another lyrically interesting song. These songs are proper, serious "adult" songs and now, nearly fifty years later they haven't dated at all. I have to say, also, that, for 1972, the sound is truly outstanding on the latest remastering. "Peace like A River" has a big, resonant bluesy slow tempo beat to it. Another very enjoyable cut. "Papa Hobo" is another observant, environmentally-consciousness song with some infectious backing. The song morphs into the short, bluesy instrumental "Hobo's Blues". Simon's exploration of the blues continues with the bottleneck guitar of "Paranoia Blues", which, after a reflective opening, launches into a huge, thumping chorus part. "Congratulations" is a suitably understated acoustic number upon which to end this gently appealing album.


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