More Paul Simon
- Boasting seriously good Double Plus (A++) sound from start to finish, this copy of Simon’s sophomore album will be very hard to beat – fairly quiet vinyl too
- Balanced, musical, present and full-bodied throughout – this pressing was a big step up from every other copy we played
- Roy Halee handled the engineering and as usual he did a great job for the time – thankfully it was recorded in 1972, not 1982
- A member of our Top 100 and rated 5 stars on AMG: “It was miles removed from the big, stately ballad style of Bridge Over Troubled Water and signaled that Simon was a versatile songwriter as well as an expressive singer with a much broader range of musical interests than he had previously demonstrated.”
- Simon’s first solo is our pick for his best sounding album. Roughly 150 other listings for the Best Recording by an Artist or Group can be found here.
I don’t think any Paul Simon solo album was recorded better. Once you get to Graceland there is a world of difference between this album’s sound quality and that one’s. This record has the wonderful sound of analog in its grooves. Graceland sounds more like a CD (and the CD of Graceland really sounds like a CD.)
This vintage Columbia Red Label pressing has the kind of Tubey Magical Midrange that modern records rarely even BEGIN to reproduce. Folks, that sound is gone and it sure isn’t showing signs of coming back. If you love hearing INTO a recording, actually being able to “see” the performers, and feeling as if you are sitting in the studio with the band, this is the record for you. It’s what vintage all analog recordings are known for — this sound.
If you exclusively play modern repressings of vintage recordings, I can say without fear of contradiction that you have never heard this kind of sound on vinyl. Old records have it — not often, and certainly not always — but maybe one out of a hundred new records do, and those are some pretty long odds.
What The Best Sides Of Paul Simon’s Sophomore Album Have To Offer Is Not Hard To Hear
- The biggest, most immediate staging in the largest acoustic space
- The most Tubey Magic, without which you have almost nothing. CDs give you clean and clear. Only the best vintage vinyl pressings offer the kind of Tubey Magic that was on the tapes in 1972
- Tight, note-like, rich, full-bodied bass, with the correct amount of weight down low
- Natural tonality in the midrange — with all the instruments having the correct timbre
- Transparency and resolution, critical to hearing into the three-dimensional space of the studio
No doubt there’s more but we hope that should do for now. Playing the record is the only way to hear all of the qualities we discuss above, and playing the best pressings against a pile of other copies under rigorously controlled conditions is the only way to find a pressing that sounds as good as this one does.
Many copies we played had a tendency to be at least a bit dark and smeary, but these sides managed to be cut without a trace of those issues. The bass is tight and punchy and overall the sound is airy, open, and spacious with real depth to the soundfield.
What We’re Listening For On Paul Simon
This copy has the kind of sound we look for in a top quality Singer-Songwriter album. A few qualities to listen for:
Immediacy in the vocals (so many copies are veiled and distant).
Natural tonal balance (most copies are at least slightly brighter or darker than ideal; ones with the right balance are the exception, not the rule).
Good solid weight (so the bass sounds full and powerful).
Spaciousness (the best copies have wonderful studio ambience and space).
And last but not least, transparency, the quality of being able to see into the studio, where there is plenty of musical information to be revealed in this simple but sophisticated recording.
This Album Is Fun
AMG gives the album 5 Big Stars, and it’s easy to see why. The songs have a looser feel than the Simon & Garfunkel stuff, with a carefree vibe that really comes through on a top Hot Stamper copy such as this one.
Take for example the reggae-tinged “Mother and Child Reunion” and the funky “Me and Julio Down By the Schoolyard.” Each are wonderful songs that just wouldn’t have made much sense on a more serious album like Parsley Sage or Bookends.
Not only that, but the sidemen on this record are FANTASTIC, including Airto, Stefan Grossman, the great Hal Blaine, Ron Carter, and members of Jimmy Cliff’s backing band providing the authentic Jamaican funk on “Mother and Child Reunion.”
Mint Minus Minus and maybe a bit better is about as quiet as any vintage pressing will play, and since only the right vintage pressings have any hope of sounding good on this album, that will most often be the playing condition of the copies we sell. (The copies that are even a bit noisier get listed on the site are seriously reduced prices or traded back in to the local record stores we shop at.)
Those of you looking for quiet vinyl will have to settle for the sound of later pressings and Heavy Vinyl reissues, purchased elsewhere of course as we have no interest in selling records that don’t have the vintage analog magic that is a key part of the appeal of these wonderful recordings.
If you want to make the trade-off between bad sound and quiet surfaces with whatever Heavy Vinyl pressing might be available, well, that’s certainly your prerogative, but we can’t imagine losing what’s good about this music — the size, the energy, the presence, the clarity, the weight — just to hear it with less background noise.
Mother and Child Reunion
Everything Put Together Falls Apart
Run That Body Down
Me and Julio Down by the Schoolyard
Peace Like a River
AMG 5 Star Rave Review
If any musical justification were needed for the breakup of Simon & Garfunkel, it could be found on this striking collection, Paul Simon’s post-split debut.
From the opening cut, “Mother and Child Reunion” (a Top Ten hit), Simon, who had snuck several subtle musical explorations into the generally conservative S&G sound, broke free, heralding the rise of reggae with an exuberant track recorded in Jamaica for a song about death. From there, it was off to Paris for a track in South American style and a rambling story of a fisherman’s son, “Duncan” (which made the singles chart).
But most of the album had a low-key feel, with Simon on acoustic guitar backed by only a few trusted associates (among them Joe Osborn, Larry Knechtel, David Spinozza, Mike Manieri, Ron Carter, and Hal Blaine, along with such guests as Stefan Grossman, Airto Moreira, and Stephane Grappelli), singing a group of informal, intimate, funny, and closely observed songs (among them the lively Top 40 hit “Me and Julio Down by the Schoolyard”).
It was miles removed from the big, stately ballad style of Bridge Over Troubled Water and signaled that Simon was a versatile songwriter as well as an expressive singer with a much broader range of musical interests than he had previously demonstrated. You didn’t miss Art Garfunkel on Paul Simon, not only because Simon didn’t write Garfunkel-like showcases for himself, but because the songs he did write showed off his own, more varied musical strengths.