Musically side two is one of the strongest in the entire Simon and Garfunkel oeuvre (if you’ll pardon my French). Each of the five songs could hold its own as a potential hit on the radio, and there is no filler to be found anywhere. How many albums from 1968 can make that claim?
The estimable Roy Halee handled the engineering duties. Not the most ‘natural” sounding record he ever made — the processing is heavy handed on a number of tracks — but that’s clearly not what neither he nor the duo were going for.
If you want natural, Parsley, Sage, Rosemary and Thyme has what you are looking for. That said, as of 2022 both are Top 100 Titles.
The three of them would obviously take their sound much farther in that direction with the Grammy winning Bridge Over Troubled Water from 1970.
The bigger production songs on this album have a tendency to get congested on even the best pressings, which is not uncommon for four track recordings from the 60s. Those of you with properly set up high-dollar front ends should have less of a problem than some. $3000 cartridges can usually deal with this kind of complex information better than $300 ones.
But not always. Expensive does not always mean better, since painstaking and exacting setup is so essential to proper playback.
The Wrecking Crew provided top quality backup, with Hal Blaine on drums and percussion, Joe Osborn on bass and Larry Knechtel on piano and keyboards.
Save the Life of My Child
I used to think this track would never sound good enough to use as an evaluation track. It’s a huge production that I’d found practically impossible to get to sound right on even the best original copies of the album. Even as recently as ten years ago I had basically given up trying.
Thankfully things have changed. Nowadays, with great copies at our disposal and a system that is really cooking, virtually all of the harmonic distortion in the big chorus near the opening disappears. It takes a very special pressing and a very special stereo to play this song.