Review : PAUL SIMON - Graceland (25th Anniversary Box Set)
LA TimesIt might seem there'd be little left to say about Paul Simon's watershed 1986 album "Graceland," which is being reissued today in a deluxe four-disc 25th anniversary box set.
Simon collected Grammy Awards for the title track and the album, as record and song of the year. It was No. 71 on Rolling Stone's list of the 500 greatest albums of all time and introduced millions of listeners to the wonders of the music of South Africa's Ladysmith Black Mambazo, among its other attributes.
But the new box set does indeed help shed new light on the music and the entire project by way of the various bonus features that now accompany the original album.
Chief among them is the disc containing Joe Berlinger's fascinating documentary "Under African Skies," laying out the controversy around Simon violating the United Nations' cultural boycott of South Africa's racist apartheid system when he recorded several tracks in Johannesburg with the members of Ladysmith and other musicians from the region....full text
Rolling StoneThis deluxe package includes a luminous remastered version of Paul Simon’s landmark African-pop album, previously unreleased demos, a live concert DVD and a revealing making-of documentary. Recording in apartheid-era South Africa with local musicians was bold; the marriage of township grooves and shapely, revealing songwriting was groundbreaking. It's hard to even remember the charges of cultural imperialism that greeted Graceland when it was released. Today, the glorious bounce of "Graceland" and "You Can Call Me Al" reminds us that, for all of Simon's genius with tunes and lyrics, it's his rhythmic searching and sophistication that sets him apart.
Vancouver SunBeyond the film, there’s another disc with studio outtakes including a jaw-dropping early take of “Diamonds on the Soles of Her Shoes” that is largely just Simon’s vocal and bassist Baghiti Khumalo running gloriously wild and funky over the fretboard of his instrument. The same disc has an audio interview with Simon talking about the making of the title track that illuminates how this cross-cultural collaboration gestated.
The fourth disc captures the 1987 concert Simon gave in Zimbabwe on his “Graceland” tour, where he was joined by South African pop musicians Miriam Makeba and Hugh Masekela.
To paraphrase Rod Stewart, every album may indeed tell a story, but some stories are dramataically more compelling than others. The story of “Graceland” is one of the most compelling in all of pop music....full text
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