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Pop/Rock - Released January 26, 1970 | Columbia

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Bridge Over Troubled Water was one of the biggest-selling albums of its decade, and it hasn't fallen too far down on the list in years since. Apart from the gospel-flavored title track, which took some evolution to get to what it finally became, however, much of Bridge Over Troubled Water also constitutes a stepping back from the music that Simon & Garfunkel had made on Bookends -- this was mostly because the creative partnership that had formed the body and the motivation for the duo's four prior albums literally consumed itself in the making of Bridge Over Troubled Water. The overall effect was perhaps the most delicately textured album to close out the 1960s from any major rock act. Bridge Over Troubled Water, at its most ambitious and bold, on its title track, was a quietly reassuring album; at other times, it was personal yet soothing; and at other times, it was just plain fun. The public in 1970 -- a very unsettled time politically, socially, and culturally -- embraced it; and whatever mood they captured, the songs matched the standard of craftsmanship that had been established on the duo's two prior albums. Between the record's overall quality and its four hits, the album held the number one position for two and a half months and spent years on the charts, racking up sales in excess of five million copies. The irony was that for all of the record's and the music's appeal, the duo's partnership ended in the course of creating and completing the album. © Bruce Eder /TiVo
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Folk/Americana - Released January 17, 1966 | Columbia

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Simon & Garfunkel's second album, Sounds of Silence, was recorded 18 months after their debut long-player, Wednesday Morning, 3 AM -- but even though the two albums shared one song (actually, one-and-a-half songs) in common, the sound here seemed a million miles away from the gentle harmonizing and unassuming acoustic accompaniment on the first record. In between, there had been a minor earthquake in the pop/rock world called "folk-rock," which resulted in the transformation of their acoustic rendition of "The Sound of Silence" into a classic of the new genre, complete with jangling electric guitars and an amplified beat that helped carry it to the top of the charts. The duo hastily re-formed, Paul Simon returning from an extended stay in England with a large song bag (part of which he had already committed to vinyl, on his U.K. album The Paul Simon Songbook). Simon & Garfunkel rushed into the studio in the fall of 1965 to come up with a folk-rock album in a hurry: fortunately, they'd already recorded two sides, "Somewhere They Can't Find Me" (actually, Simon's rewrite of their first album‘s title track) and "We've Got a Groovey Thing Goin'," both featuring a band accompaniment. Davy Graham's bluesy "Anji," a rare instrumental outing by Simon, filled another slot, and "Richard Cory" filled another. The latter, Simon's adaptation of poet Edwin Arlington Robinson‘s work, was a sincere effort at relevance -- Richard Cory has every material thing a man could want but still takes his own life, a hint at one aspect of middle-class teenaged angst of the mid-'60s; high school English teachers were still using it to motivate students in the '70s. Though a rushed effort, this was a far stronger album than their debut, mostly thanks to Simon's compositions; indeed, in one fell swoop, the world learned not only of the existence of a superb song-poet in Paul Simon, but, in Simon's harmonizing with Art Garfunkel, the finest singing duo since the Everly Brothers. But it also had flaws, some of which only became fully apparent as their audience matured: the snide, youthful sensibilities of "I Am a Rock" and "Blessed" haven't aged well. And the musical concessions, on those tracks and "Richard Cory," to folk-rock amplification have also worn poorly; even in 1966, the electric guitars, piano, organ, and drums, sounded awkward in context with the duo's singing, like something grafted on, though in fairness, those sounds did sell the album. The parts that work best, "Kathy's Song" and "April Come She Will," two of the most personal songs in Simon's output, were similar to the stripped-down originals Simon had cut solo in England, and among the most affecting (as opposed to affected) folk-style records of their era; similarly, Simon's rendition of the folk-blues instrumental "Anji" is close to composer Davy Graham's original, just recorded hotter, while "Leaves That Are Green" is pleasantly if unobtrusively ornamented with electric harpsichord, rhythm guitar, and bass. © Bruce Eder /TiVo
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Rock - Released June 14, 1972 | Legacy Recordings

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Folk/Americana - Released February 16, 1982 | Legacy Recordings

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Pop - Released April 3, 1968 | Columbia

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Simon & Garfunkel quietly slipped Bookends, their fourth album, into the bins with a whisper in March 1968. They are equal collaborators with producer/engineer Roy Halee in a multivalently layered song cycle observing the confusion of those seeking an elusive American Dream, wistfully reflecting on innocence lost forever to the cold winds of change. Bookends opens with an acoustic guitar stating a theme, slowly and plaintively. It erupts into the musical dissonance that introduces "Save the Life of My Child." Its uneasy rock & roll frames highly metaphorical and ironic lyrics and a nursery rhyme bridge. "America" is a folk song with a lilting soprano saxophone in its refrain as a small pipe organ paints acoustic guitars, framed by the ghostly traces of classic American Songbook pop structures. Two people travel the landscape by bus searching for the track's subject, eventually discovering that everyone else on the freeway is too. Its sophisticated harmonic invention is toppled by its message; "America" becomes an ellipsis, a cipher, an unanswerable question. "Overs," a study about the end of a relationship, contains Halee's ingenious use of sound: lighting a cigarette and inhaling and exhaling its smoke underscore the story told by the melody and lyrics. In a two-minute field recording of the voices of old people collected from nursing homes by Garfunkel, disembodied voices reveal entire lifetimes in a few seconds. "Old Friends" carries the message deeper. Simon's image of two old men sitting on a park bench sharing memories and their fears of the changes surrounding them is indelible. A horn section threatens to interrupt their reverie, reflecting the chaos they perceive, but is warded off as the gentle melody returns and fades into the album's opening theme. In "Fakin' It," Simon reveals the falsity inherent in modern life -- it's better to appear to have it together than reflect the struggle of not being able to: "This feeling of fakin' it/I still haven't shaken it/I know I'm fakin' it/I'm not really makin' it." The album's final three tracks, "Mrs. Robinson" (the iconic theme song from the film The Graduate), "A Hazy Shade of Winter," and the album's concluding track, "At the Zoo," offer a tremblingly bleak vision of the future rooted in the lives of everyday people who "fake it," living an illusory dream publicly while trembling with confusion and fear in private (no matter one's generation), subverting the Madison Avenue notion of the "generation gap" simply and honestly. Bookends' problematic, disillusioned themes, sometimes disguised in wry humor, striking arrangements, and augmented orchestral instrumentation, portray the sounds of people in an American life that they no longer understand, or understands them. Simon & Garfunkel never overstate; instead they observe, almost journalistically, enormous life and cultural questions in the process of them being asked. In just over 29 minutes, Bookends is stunning in its vision of a bewildered America in search of itself. © Thom Jurek /TiVo
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Folk/Americana - Released October 10, 1966 | Columbia - Legacy

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Pop - Released October 19, 1964 | Columbia

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Wednesday Morning, 3 AM doesn't resemble any other Simon & Garfunkel album, mostly because their sound here was fundamentally different from that of the chart-topping duo that emerged a year later. Their first record together since their days as the teen harmony duo Tom & Jerry, the album was cut in March 1964, at a time when both Simon and Garfunkel were under the spell of folk music. As it had in 1957 with "Hey, Schoolgirl," their harmonizing here came out of the Everly Brothers' playbook, but some new wrinkles had developed -- Paul Simon was just spreading his wings as a serious songwriter and shares space with other contemporary composers. The album opens with a spirited (if somewhat arch) rendition of Gibson and Camp's gospel/folk piece "You Can Tell the World," on which the duo's joyous harmonizing overcomes the intrinsic awkwardness of two Jewish guys from Queens, New York doing this repertory. Also present is Ian Campbell's "The Sun Is Burning," a topical song about nuclear annihilation that Simon heard on his first visit to England as an itinerant folksinger the year before. But the dominant outside personality on the album is that of Bob Dylan -- his "Times They Are A-Changing" is covered, but his influence is obvious on the oldest of the Simon originals here, "He Was My Brother." Simon's first serious, topical song, dealing with the death of a freedom rider -- and dedicated to Simon's slain Queens College classmate Andrew Jacobs -- it was what first interested Columbia Records producer Tom Wilson in Simon & Garfunkel. By the time the album was recorded, however, Simon had evolved beyond Dylan's orbit and developed a unique songwriting voice of his own, though he still had some distance to go. His other originals betray the artifice of an English major at work, sometimes for better, as on "Sparrow" and the original, all-acoustic release of "The Sound of Silence," and at times for worse, on the half-beautiful but too-precious title song (which he would re-write more successfully as "Somewhere They Can't Find Me"). There are also a pair of traditional songs, a beautifully harmonized rendition of "Peggy-O" -- which they probably picked up in Greenwich Village, or from recordings by Dylan or Joan Baez -- and "Go Tell It On the Mountain," both of which fit well into the zeitgeist of the folk revival. The record didn't sell on its original release, however, appearing too late in the folk revival to attract much attention -- Bob Dylan was already taking that audience to new places by adding electric instruments to his sound. But the seeds of the duo's future success were planted when, months after the album had been given up for dead -- and the duo had split up -- the all-acoustic rendition of "The Sound of Silence" started getting radio play on its own in some key markets, which possessed to producer Wilson to try and adapt it to the new sound, overdubbing an electric band. © Bruce Eder /TiVo
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Rock - Released October 14, 2003 | Columbia - Legacy

Released to coincide with the duo's 2003 reunion tour, this two-disc anthology is no less than the fifth multi-disc compilation of the duo to appear in the CD era. Viewed coldly, it's a mercenary exercise, squeezing yet more juice out of one of the most valuable catalogs in the business. If you happen to be starting from square one, though, it's an excellent package, with all 16 of their singles to reach the Top 100 (including the 1975 reunion hit, "My Little Town"). The other 17 tracks include some of their most beloved non-hits ("Richard Cory," "The 59th Street Bridge Song," "The Only Living Boy in New York") and eight live 1967-1969 performances, none of them found in studio counterparts on this compilation, though all are drawn from previously released albums or anthologies. Some listeners might find some of their secondary Simon & Garfunkel favorites missing; "Anji," "April Come She Will," "Patterns," and "Punky's Dilemma" are absent, for example. But it's a good option for that niche audience looking for something between a single-disc greatest-hits collection and a box set. © Richie Unterberger /TiVo

Folk/Americana - Released January 24, 2020 | Columbia - Legacy

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Folk/Americana - Released November 16, 1999 | Columbia - Legacy

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Rock - Released November 4, 1997 | Legacy - Columbia

The Collected Works was a triple-disc box set that included all of the duo's albums, but no rarities. For average fans -- even fairly dedicated ones -- that set contained most everything they would need, even if the sound quality was a little below average. Old Friends is a three-disc box set that was designed to replace The Collected Works, but it fails to achieve its goals despite its improved remastered sound. Part of the reason is the content itself -- all five albums plus the rarities on this set could have fit on three discs, offering a real complete recorded studio works, but the compilers decided to truncate the albums and toss on a handful of rarities. The result certainly isn't bad -- after all, it features all of the hits, most of the major album tracks, the 1975 reunion "My Little Town," and a couple of good rarities like "Blues Run the Game" -- but it isn't all it could have been. If you already own The Collected Works, Old Friends serves little purpose unless you're a collector or audiophile, and if you're a neophyte, you're better off obtaining the original albums, not this well-intentioned and enjoyable but ultimately unsuccessful compilation. © Stephen Thomas Erlewine /TiVo
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Folk/Americana - Released December 7, 2004 | Columbia

It's no secret that Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel didn't end their partnership on the friendliest terms. Despite a brief reunion every decade or so -- most notably in the fall of 1981 at The Concert in Central Park -- Simon & Garfunkel were notorious for not speaking to each other, so their reunion at the 2002 Grammy Awards, opening the show with "The Sound of Silence," was a big deal. It was a good performance, too, whetting the appetites of an audience eager for a full-fledged reunion tour, which the duo delivered in 2003 and into 2004. This tour is documented on the appropriately titled (and none too surprisingly titled) Old Friends: Live on Stage, a double-CD set that culls highlights from a series of concerts they performed at the Continental Airlines Arena in New Jersey and Madison Square Garden between December 3 and 8, 2003. There's also a deluxe version of the concert containing a DVD that recreates the entire set list of the show, adding six songs to the concert, including "The 59th Street Bridge Song (Feelin' Groovy)" and two additional Everly Brothers songs. In either incarnation, the same holds true: it's a warm, enjoyable slice of nostalgia. Simon & Garfunkel make no attempt to hide their age -- during the show, they recall meeting each other in sixth grade in a production of Alice in Wonderland, offhandedly mentioning the 40 years that have passed since they started their professional musical career. This is a smart move, since the point of the entire tour and by extension this album is nostalgia, to gain comfort in reminiscing and revisiting the duo's generation-defining songs. This is made explicit on the intro to the DVD, which recaps the cultural shifts from the '50s to the 2000s, all peppered with photos of Simon & Garfunkel as boys, first-time fathers, and senior citizens. This may be unapologetically sentimental, even sappy, but anybody who had Simon & Garfunkel songs as the soundtrack to their life -- particularly Baby Boomers, but to a lesser extent their children, as well -- will find that it tugs on their heart strings all the same, and gets them ready to enjoy this stroll down memory lane. (Nevertheless, it sure is weird to hear the hometown crowd hoop and holler at the "come-on from the whores on Seventh Avenue" line in "The Boxer.") As music, Old Friends isn't quite as successful, even if it's still a pleasurable experience. Simon & Garfunkel's voices have aged, lowering a bit in range, and Simon's pitch isn't as strong as it once was, but when they harmonize, the chemistry is still apparent; if anything, the changes in their voices only adds to the nostalgic appeal of the music, since it makes it clear just how much time has passed and how much things have changed. Musically, the biggest flaw is that, apart from the handful of solo acoustic numbers, the arrangements are slickly professional -- well done, to be sure, but just a shade too glossy. But that's a minor complaint, since this overall is a very enjoyable listen. Perhaps it's nostalgia, but it does its job exceptionally well. [Two final notes: The CD contains a new song, "Citizen of the Planet," which is pleasant, but not remarkable. The DVD, however, has an exceptional series of clips from the 1970 TV special Songs of America that contain footage of Simon & Garfunkel performing "Bridge Over Troubled Water" in the studio, traveling across the U.S., playing in hotel rooms, and being interviewed. For any dedicated fan, it's worth the price of admission, but hopefully the entire special will be released on DVD someday.] © Stephen Thomas Erlewine /TiVo
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Pop - Released March 25, 2008 | Columbia - Legacy

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Folk/Americana - Released July 16, 2002 | Columbia - Legacy

Recorded on January 22, 1967, at Lincoln Center in New York, four of these 19 songs were on the 1997 Old Friends box set, but the rest were unissued until the 2002 appearance of this release. The duo performs acoustically, without accompanists (as was usually the case in their concerts), on a fine-sounding and well-delivered set that doesn't contain any revelations, but is nonetheless an excellent document of their live work as they reached their prime. Certainly a Simon & Garfunkel fan could have hardly wished for a better song selection, as it features all the major hits and most of the best album tracks that the pair had recorded prior to 1967: "The Sound of Silence," "I Am a Rock," "Homeward Bound," "The 59th Street Bridge Song (Feelin' Groovy)," "Richard Cory," "A Hazy Shade of Winter," "The Dangling Conversation," "Anji," and "For Emily, Whenever I May Find Her." Some of the more offbeat moments, however, lie in less-celebrated songs like "Leaves That Are Green," "Benedictus," and "He Was My Brother." Only two of the cuts, though, would qualify as relatively seldom-heard tunes: "A Church Is Burning," which Paul Simon put on his 1965 U.K.-only solo album but was not recorded for release by Simon & Garfunkel, and the uncommonly tough-minded "You Don't Know Where Your Interest Lies," which would be a 1967 non-LP B-side (of "Fakin' It"). Numerous live Simon & Garfunkel bootlegs had circulated before this release, so the pair's concert sound will not come as a shock to hardcore fans, but it's great to have a classy, above-board document of their live presence. © Richie Unterberger /TiVo
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Alternative & Indie - Released July 22, 2020 | Cult Legends

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Pop - Released October 11, 2019 | AMB

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House - Released December 7, 2009 | Interlabel Records

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House - Released November 2, 2009 | Interlabel Records

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