Paul Simon (Legacy Edition)

Paul Simon

Columbia/Legacy, 2011

REVIEW BY: David Bowling


Simon & Garfunkel went their separate ways during 1970, which was big news back in the day. Their last studio album, Bridge Over Troubled Water, had cemented their status among music’s elite, selling over 25 million copies worldwide to date, winning six Grammy Awards, and spending 10 weeks at the top of the album charts in the United States.

There was a great deal of anticipation from Simon & Garfunkel and music fans alike as they waited for Paul Simon’s first release. They needn’t have worried; album didn’t disappoint. His self-titled debut proved that his writing skills were intact and that his voice, minus Garfunkel, was a wonderful instrument in its own right. It marked the beginning of a solo career that has now passed the forty year mark and produced one of the better bodies of work in music history.


Paul Simon has now been reissued as part of the Columbia/Legacy’s Paul Simon project. It and There Goes Rhymin’ Simon, Paul Simon In Concert: Live Rhymin’, and Still Crazy After All These Years have returned in a digitally remastered form with bonus tracks.

It’s been quite a while since I listened to this album from beginning to end. The songs were immediately like an old friend coming to visit. The sound has been greatly improved plus the mix of the music has been enhanced. This can be best heard on the album’s second track, “Duncan,” where each word can be clearly heard and the instrumental backing takes on new life with added textures.

The bonus tracks are probably more interesting than essential. The simple acoustic demo versions of “Me And Julio Down By The Schoolyard” and “Duncan,” from early 1971, give a glimpse into the creative mind and process of Paul Simon. It’s nice to listen to the completed songs and compare. On the other hand, the unreleased version of “Paranoia Blues” feels like a finished project and contains some thumping rhythms.

The best known tracks have long been a part of the musicial landscape. “Me And Julio Down By The Schoolyard” and “Mother And Child Reunion” were both catchy pop tunes and hit singles, while “Duncan” is one of those introspective songs that he was so good at creating.

Even at this early stage of his solo career, he had begun to experiment with different sounds that were far removed from the Simon & Garfunkel songbook. “Peace Like A River,” “Everything Put Together Falls Apart,” “Hobo Blues” with its almost bluegrass sound, and “Paranoia Blues” with its subtle blues base all show him beginning to move in different directions with varying degrees of success.

Simon’s self-titled debut was not a cohesive album, nor was it his best. It does catch him completely on his own for the first time and flexing his creative muscles. At the time it was highly praised and remains a good if somewhat simple listen today. It proved to be the first step in a long and complicated journey that would yield decades of superior music.

Rating: B

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© 2011 David Bowling and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Columbia/Legacy, and is used for informational purposes only.