Nixon was in the
White House as the Vietnam War raged on, but it was all peace and love when
Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel, two over-educated New York boys with angelic
voices and a guitar, said (an unannounced) goodbye to their legion of rabid
fans in 1969. Captured here at the height of their considerable powers, Simon
& Garfunkel had reached that magical point where they were just about as
big as the Beatles. Recorded in multiple venues during their final tour
together until 1982, this set serves as a powerful exclamation point to the
pair’s hitmaking early career, just before they broke up the act in 1970 with
Simon becoming a successful solo artist and Garfunkel having a fling at acting
(Catch-22, Carnal Knowledge).
The Live 1969 disc had a brief, exclusive
run in 2008 with the Starbucks imprint, but it’s back where it belongs now on
Columbia/Legacy. What the set sacrifices in the missing big-production elements
of the revered studio versions, it easily makes up for by having those
chilling, Everly Brothers-influenced harmonies right in front of you, naked and
breathtakingly beautiful. Another big plus is the inclusion on some tunes
(“Mrs. Robinson,” “The Boxer”) of S&G’s studio back-up
combo: fabled L.A. recording-session hired guns Joe Osborn on bass, Larry
Knechtel on keyboards and percussionist supreme Hal Blaine, along with
Nashville fretboard picker Fred Carter, Jr. All the flood-tide, high-water
marks from S&G’s glory days are here: “Homeward Bound,” “I
Am A Rock,” “The 59th
Street Bridge Song (Feelin’ Groovy),”
“Old Friends,” “Scarborough Fair,” “At The Zoo.”
It’s too bad they didn’t turn Blaine & Co. loose on their recently recorded
epic, “Bridge Over Troubled Water,” and the duo’s first hit,
“The Sound of Silence,” included here in stripped-down versions.
Chad Stuart of
British Invasion moptop troubadours Chad & Jeremy likes to recall an autumn
night in 1965 when a totally unknown Paul Simon sat on the couch in Jeremy
flat and played them his entire catalog to see if they could use any of it.
Just before the flabbergasted U.K.
duo could start rolling tape, Simon got a phone call that an electrified version
of Simon & Garfunkel’s “The Sound of Silence” was breaking big
back in the States. He split and the rest was history. Otherwise, who can say?
This collection just might have been called Chad
& Jeremy Live 1969. Funny how fate twists the knife sometimes.
Standout Tracks: “Homeward Bound,” “Bridge
Over Troubled Water” JUD COST