on July 7, 2003
As a longtime S&G fan and owner of several live recordings from 1967 to 1969 (many of which are officially unreleased), I figured if this disk was blessed and sanctioned by the masters themselves, it must be about the best in the vault. Well, about 1/4th the way through it, I realized I'd apparently erred. Not to say it's a lousy performance: It just sounds very flat and lackadaisical compared with other S&G concert performances. Five songs from this show are available on the "Old Friends" boxed set--including "Red Rubber Ball," not on this cd for whatever reason)--and as it turns out those songs are played and sung with the most spirit and gusto of the bunch (particularly "A Church Is Burning," maybe the cream of the crop.) Yes, you'll get a few songs here that are difficult to find any other live versions of, but the only standouts of that group are "The Dangling Conversation" and "A Hazy Shade Of Winter," the latter being the duo's most recent hit at the time--so they likely weren't yet tired of singing it. Also, sometimes the key in which a song is played can make a difference: In the duo's performance at the legendary Monterey Pop Festival just five months after this concert, "Benedictus" and "For Emily, Wherever I May Find Her" were played and sung in a higher key than they are in this New York show--and I prefer the Monterey versions. I cannot, in good conscience, rate this cd lower than 3 stars--simply on the strength of the songs and the performers, but collectively, this is a pretty flat, going-through-the-motions performance. The 12-string guitar sounds OK, but when Paul is playing 6-string, the guitar and microphone sound like they're separated by a beach towel! If S&G and Sony were out to counter the bootleggers with this show, I'm afraid they came up a megabytes short. My alternative suggestion to those of you considering purchasing this cd is the following: First, get the "Old Friends" box if you don't already own it, for along with all the other excellent material contained therein (including two studio cuts "The Complete Columbia Studio Recordings" does not have), it boasts ten live cuts total--all very good! Then track down the seven tracks from S&G's set at the Monterey Festival which were allowed out of Lou Adler's vault for a great 1988 radio special and subsequently bootlegged. Finally, track down the widely bootlegged November 1969 performance at Miami (of Ohio) University. There's more out there, but those three sources will give you a sufficient serving of S&G performing live and on the very top of their individual' and collective game.
on March 29, 2003
Though a few of these tracks appeared on the 1997 Old Friends box set, it wasn't until 2002 that the bulk of this 1967 concert was made commercially available. Bootlegs of mid-60s S&G shows have circulated for years, but this is the first artist-and-label endorsed package, and it's about as fine a document of the era as one could hope for. The song selection includes the obvious hits, well-picked album tracks (e.g., "Leaves That Are Green") and a pair of obscurities ("A Church is Burning," from Simon's pre-S&G solo album, and a 1967 B-side, "You Don't Know Where Your Interest Lies"). The range of material that the duo had racked up by this point in their career, from charged social statements ("The Sound of Silence") to angry, introspective observations ("I Am a Rock") and jangly-pop ("The 59th Street Bridge Song (Feelin' Groovy)"), was (and remains) truly impressive.
Even more interesting is that the entire concert was recorded without additional accompaniment: Garfunkel sings and Simon sings and plays acoustic guitar. Their stripped-down (or, more accurately, not-built-up-and-electrified) arrangements of tunes from "The Sound of Silence" LP, as well as later songs like "A Hazy Shade of Winter," are both disconcerting and impressive. Simon's qualities as a guitar player were no secret by this point in his career (having been featured on the duo's albums), but his talent and feel as a live performer shows off an added dimension. The bent, plucked notes of "Blessed," the signature introductory lick of "Homeward Bound," and the instrumental run through Davey Graham's "Anji" are just some of the highlights.
This is a pitch-perfect document of folk-rock legends in their prime, capturing not only their artistry, but the freedom and intensity of the times itself. The recording and performance are both crisp and present - a must-have for all S&G fans.
on September 19, 2002
This CD comes 15 years late: Throughout these years over a dozen concert CDs of the duo have been released through labels different to CBS, Geffen and Warner.
This CD has a great sound, a magnificent "Hazy shade of winter" acoustic version but that's it. The most valuable things in a CD of this kind would be new songs never recorded buy the duo, and them talking about aneccdotes. But you won't find much of it here, except for "You don't know where your interest lies".
If you buy other live CDs from the duo (Far East, Live in Ohio, Live in Haarlem -Holland, Live in Monterrey....) you'll find great songs that they never recorded together (Red Rubber Ball, That silver haired daddy of mine, Cuba si Nixon No) and wonderful speeches (like the one where Garfunkel introduces "a new song we just finished called bridge o.t.water which I hope you like it".).
In short: This is a nice CD for everyone, but nothing special for Simon and Garfunkel collectors.
on August 31, 2002
Four elements make up this classic live recording: Paul Simon, Art Garfunkel, an acoustic guitar and an enthusiastic audience. As the liner notes state, seats were set up on stage behind the duo to allow for more people. Thus, the concert sounds very intimate, particularly when Paul and Art talk to the audience between songs. For example, Art goes into a lengthy discussion of taking pictures for their first album cover. Hundreds of pictures were taken of them in a New York subway, standing in front of a wall as subway trains speed by. It wasn't until the photo session was over that they finally noticed what was written on the subway wall. According to Art, it was "the old, familiar suggestion." This elicits laughter and applause. He goes on to explain how a couple of years later Paul's recollection of the incident inspired him to write the song "A Poem On The Underground Wall." Their moving performance of that song is a highlight of this concert.
I especially enjoyed their live version of "A Hazy Shade Of Winter." With only the acoustic guitar for accompaniment, the song took on a folk-rock feel missing in its studio version. A real rarity is their performance of "You Don't Know Where Your Interest Lies." Only available as a single B-side, the studio version was finally included in the "Old Friends" box set. Another rare song in the box set is a live version of Paul's song "Red Rubber Ball," which was taken from the same 1967 concert. Why Columbia Records chose not to add it to this CD is a mystery to me, since there was plenty of time left to include it. For that matter, I can't understand why it took them 35 years to release this CD. Whatever the reasons, I'm very glad they remastered the recording and released this CD. Like a bottle of fine wine, this intimate concert recording has improved with age. Savor every minute of it!
on August 30, 2002
This is a superb concert recording from the sixties. I wonder where it's been hiding all these years. While not as essential a purchase as their studio work, it gives you a good idea of what Simon and Garfunkel were all about in their heyday - a much better idea, in fact, than their 1982 Concert in Central Park. First of all, their live shows were brave endeavors - S&G played to huge crowds with nothing but one guitar and two microphones for singing. They were able to do this because times were not as glitzy then, but also because they were so very good. Simon's guitar playing is evocative and excellent, and the duo's sweet vocal harmonizing is without peer. Art Garfunkel shows what an important stage presence he was on this disc; his confident introductions are much smoother than Simon's awkward bantering. Of course Simon was and is one of America's finest songwriters, and this concert emphasizes not only the duo's hits to date such as "The Sound of Silence," "I Am a Rock," and "Feelin' Groovy" but also some more obscure but wonderful numbers such as the anthemic "A Church is Burning" and the then-unrecorded song "You Don't Know Where Your Interest Lies." (Indeed, I prefer the live version of this song to the rather smarmy studio recording that appears on the fine box set, "Old Friends.") The flawless performance of "Wednesday Morning 3 A.M." is also noteworthy here. The sound quality is very good for this set, and overall this disc offers a great window into a different time, when people believed strongly in the power of youth and art to change the world, and music could appeal to a broad audience of all ages.
on August 30, 2002
This is a superb concert recording from the sixties. I wonder where it's been hiding all these years. While not as essential a purchase as their studio work, it gives you a good idea of what Simon and Garfunkel were all about in their heyday - a much better idea, in fact, than their 1982 Concert in Central Park. First of all, their live shows were brave endeavors - S&G played to huge crowds with nothing but one guitar and two microphones for singing. They were able to do this because times were not as glitzy then, but also because they were so very good. Simon's guitar playing is evocative and excellent, and the duo's sweet vocal harmonizing is without peer. Art Garfunkel shows what an important stage presence he was on this disc; his confident introductions are much smoother than Simon's awkward bantering. Of course Simon was and is one of America's finest songwriters, and this concert emphasizes not only the duo's hits to date such as "The Sound of Silence," "I Am a Rock," and "Feelin' Groovy" but also some more obscure but wonderful numbers such as the anthemic "A Church is Burning" and the then-unrecorded song "You Don't Know Where Your Interest Lies." (Indeed, I prefer the live version of this song to the rather smarmy studio recording that appears on the fine box set, "Old Friends.") The flawless performance of "Wednesday Morning 3 A.M." is also noteworthy here. The sound quality is very good for this set, and overall this disc offers a great window into a different time, when people believed strongly in the power of youth and art to change the world.
on August 5, 2002
At the time of writing, the 'deluxe packaging' version is actually cheaper on Amazon than the standard jewel case, so those of us who bought it probably can't complain. I prefer digipacks every time, so I'm happy. However, as a previous customer has pointed out there's nothing 'deluxe' about a digipack, even with the mother of pearl finish.
Oh yes, the music ... it lives up to expectations in every respect. Paul Simon's songs always walked a tightrope between naivety and pretentiousness, but they've survived and endured, and the performances here bring out their charm rather than their flaws. Anthony de Curtis has written some wonderful notes in the accompanying booklet which look benignly at this music in the context of its time. The world would change very soon after, and this kind of night could probably never be repeated now.
The singing is sublime, the production crystalline, the audience clearly spellbound. And Paul Simon's guitar playing provides a surprisingly full backdrop - he really could play.
on July 30, 2002
It seems so locked in time, it can never happen again, never like this. The meaning of each song, still full of purpose today, will never be performed with such a feel of authenticity and timely necessity as on that cold evening in 1967. In a world of mixed up confusion and loud rock and roll, these two poets managed to do exactly what poets do, to transport the listeners to a place that was curiously familiar (see "A Poem on the Underground Wall") yet full of beauty, and armed with noting more than two innocent voices and a pair of acoustic guitars. "The Dangling Conversation" remains a wonderful work of art, you can almost smell the flowers in the window, and the hits- well they blend seamlessly with the lesser known tunes. The complete package is a timeless and introspective look into the world around us, simple observations, stories that linger long after thier told... take a moment and listen, it will be hard to walk away. Simon and Garfunkel achieved it hear, enjoy this one, even if it is your first and only glimps into this amazing duo in an amzing time.
on July 29, 2002
Simon & Garfunkel (S&G) first came to Japan in 1981, as part of their reunion world tour after Central Park. And that was when I first saw them live in a baseball stadium, far, far away from the stage in a less than desirable acoustic environment. At that time, I wished their encore, which was conducted just with Paul's electric/acoustic guitar, would last longer.
The duo returned to Japan a decade later and my dream came true. I had a much better seat right in front of the center stage. They also performed, though only for one hour, in a pure acoustic format, but still it's not the same as in 1967 when they were young, friends and "incumbent" duo, not as a come-back duo who didn't care to talk to each other.
This disk is superb for S&G buffs, because it contains some of the early but less celebrated master pieces that would cease to appear in later years when S&G presents songs from their greatest hits which covered their entire career as S&G. I could not resist tears when "Leaves That Are Green" and "Wednesday Morning 3 A.M." started to fill the air. The Sounds of Silence in this disk slightly shows the way Paul used to play the guitar for the tune when he recorded "The Paul Simon Song Book" in England in 1965 (This mono LP was available only in UK and Japan for a short while). The way "A Hazy Shade of Winter" came out in a single acoustic guitar format was the biggest surprise for me in this concert. This 1967 version of "For Emily" in this disk made me realize what a superb shape both Art and Paul were in when they performed at Hollywood Bowl on August 22, 1966. "For Emily"from the Hollywood concert is presented in S&G's Greatest Hits and I'd love to hear the entire show in their supreme shape, even better than this NY 1967 performance. Love to initiate US/Japan joint campaign for SONY Records to release more S&G concert CDs (and SACDs for ultimate sound quality) from later years, as well, including their last tour (also totally acoustic) in the summer of 1970. For S&G, whenever I may find them!
on July 18, 2002
(4&1/2 stars) I'm not sure why it took 35 years for this live recording to be released, but it turns out to be a marvelous document of the classic folk duo's magical chemistry. The sound quality is remarkable, a pristine environment that faithfully captures their inspired harmonies, Paul's acoustic guitar strumming, and even their occasional small boo-boos. (This was recorded live after all.) Hearing Art sing "For Emily" is always spine-tingling, but especially from this era when he was at the very pinnacle of his art. And of course all the hits reminded me yet again what a gifted songwriter Paul was, especially "Homeward Bound," "the Sound of Silence," and "I Am A Rock." The way Paul's harmony line on "Rock" stays on the same note for most of the first verse is such an amazingly subtle but effective idea.
Art's between-song patter is amusing, particularly his explanation of the album cover for the Wednesday Morning record. Anthony DeCurtis also provided some informative and well written liner notes.
Of course it's important (and obvious) to note that this concert occurred prior to some of their later hits such as "Bridge Over Troubled Water" and "El Condor Pasa," but live versions of those can be heard elsewhere.