Paul Simon – The Essential Paul Simon

The Essential Paul Simon is a collection of his work from his 1972’s self-titled album through to 2006’s ‘Surprise’ album. Weighing in with a hefty 36 tracks (phew!). It’s a sanguine affair throughout and really showcases Simon’s ability to pen tunes that are elegantly crafted and bring in a raft of different music directions.

Starting with ‘Mother and Child reunion’ it’s a reggae-esque tune that doesn’t fail to tickle the tastebuds whilst ‘Me and Julio down by the school yard’ is more than a decorative lean towards the sounds of Espana.

His solo work is a damn sight more approachable than his work with Garfunkel – it’s distinctly more refreshing, uplifting and whilst S & G fans may baulk at his solo material you cant help but be engaged with his ability to stay ahead of his peers. This collection should also go towards bringing in a new army of fans – some probably 40 years his junior!!

’50 ways to leave your lover’ with it’s ‘make a new plan stan’ chorus is simply constructed yet is beautifully mellifluous. Backed next to ‘slip slidin away’ the pace of the two songs couldn’t be further away but they compliment each other perfectly. Simon’s floaty dreamy vocal on ‘slidin away’ glides effortlessly across it’s iridescent backdrop. The rest of Disc one maintains the quality of his material and further cements the strength of his songs and ‘something so right’ is free-form Jazz whilst ‘Take me to the madri gras’ is simply toe-tapping rag-time.

Simon’s ‘Graceland’ is probably his most recognisable album with the title track, ‘Diamonds on the soles of her shoes’, ‘the boy in the bubble’, ‘under African skies’ and his most infamous hit ‘you can call me Al’. Once you have removed yourself from the ridiculous video of the latter you cant help but well in the chic-esque bass and Simon’s arpeggio vocals throughout.

With another 12 songs following on you’d have to be an advocate of barbarism not to buy-in some of the charm and elegance that are ‘quality’, ‘Darling Lorraine’ and ‘Father and Daughter’.

Partridge once said that his favourite Beatles album was ‘the best of’. On the evidence of this accumulation of ditties I’d definitely say the same about The Essential Paul Simon.

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