38 of 40 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Graceland--is it Paul Simon's best album?
I have a hard time deciding if Graceland isn't Paul Simon's best work. Take his first album (simply titled Paul Simon.) That was a breakthrough song fest when it came out in 1972. We were all sorry to see Simon and Garfunkel break up --would we ever see the likes of "Bridge over Troubled Water" again? While Paul's solo work was different than the duo, who could...
Published on January 8, 2002 by Joanna Daneman
2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Not as good as the original
This was a great album as well as video when it was originally released.
when I played this remastured version after purchasing the first thing I noticed was this is not nearly as good as the songs on my vhs video. I should have researched first and found a better sounding version.
Published 18 months ago by DW
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38 of 40 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Graceland--is it Paul Simon's best album?,
I have a hard time deciding if Graceland isn't Paul Simon's best work. Take his first album (simply titled Paul Simon.) That was a breakthrough song fest when it came out in 1972. We were all sorry to see Simon and Garfunkel break up --would we ever see the likes of "Bridge over Troubled Water" again? While Paul's solo work was different than the duo, who could resist those catchy and quirky songs? This was one of the great albums that debuted during pop and rock music's finest years (in my opinion) --the early 70's.
When "Graceland" came out after the music's death by disco in the 80's, I was thrilled. At last, something great to listen to. What a sound! The mix of South African music with Simon's style of songwriting was unique and appealing. The deep, swooping tones of Ladysmith Black Mambazo make a wonderful contrast to Simon's light tones in the title cut. The typical Simon bouncing rhythm is vastly improved by the African mix. And Simon does the favor of introducing the great South African band, who went on to enjoy their own, richly deserved fame.
All in all, a great album that never fails to cheer me up.
19 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Simon Scores With Pure Heart And Soul,
The poet, singer, musician and visionary Paul Simon scores a huge triumph with "Graceland," his foray into South African, Zydeco, and pure funk rhythms and sounds. He starts out strong with "The Boy In The Bubble," an almost profound musing on our contemporary world: "These are the days of miracle and wonder / This is the long distance call / The way the camera follows us in slo-mo / The way we look to us all," then takes you right into the title cut, "Graceland," on which he is joined by the Everly Brothers, a song filled with poignant metaphor and memorable images: "The Mississippi Delta / Was shining like a National guitar / I am following the river / Down the highway / Through the cradle of the Civil War." "I Know What I Know," is a catchy, fun song followed by the upbeat, rhythmic "Gumboots," on which he is joined by The Boyoyo Boys. A hook of South African rhythms launches the hypnotic "Diamonds On The Souls Of Her Shoes," which features an a capella intro that sets the mood for a wonderfully transporting piece of music. Then it's fun again with the funky "You Can Call Me Al," filled with subtle humor that's like an invitation to sing along. Linda Ronstadt joins Simon on the melodic "Under African Skies," a lilting tune with the pensive refrain: "This is the story of how we begin to remember / This is the powerful pulsing of love in the vein / These are the roots of rhythm / And the roots of rhythm remain." The South African sound predominates the driving "Homeless," on which Ladysmith Black Mambazo joins in; this song, which incorporates Zulu is not only uplifting, but mesmerizing. The South African band Stimela backs up Simon on the syncopated "Crazy Love, Vol. II," another song laced with subtle humor: "Fat Charlie the Archangel / Sloped into the room / He said I have no opinion about this / And I have no opinion about that." The Zydeco influence takes over on the rousing "That Was Your Mother," which rings with accordion, drums, washboard and sax that evokes the spirit of Clifton Chenier, the "King of the Bayou." And for the grand finale, it's one that will really grab you, "All Around The World Or The Myth Of Fingerprints," on which he is joined by the East L.A. band, Los Lobos; it's a song that will take you along with it, and have you singing all the way. It's a terrific finish to a terrific album. This is one of Simon's best; it'll grab you by the soul, and once it has you it isn't going to let you go. For anyone who hasn't heard this album, it's a great experience just waiting to happen.
36 of 41 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Simon's World Beat,
Prior to the release of Graceland in 1986, Paul Simon was already a musical superstar. From his 60's days as one half of Simon & Garfunkel to his solo work the 70's, he created some of the most memorable songs in music. Through it all, the basis of his music was an acoustic guitar and deeply rooted in American sounds like doo wop, folk or jazz. When one heard the South African rhythms that came from Graceland, the last person you'd expect them to come from would be Mr. Simon. The lyrical content of the album is no surprise as Mr. Simon is one of the best in the business, but the musical backing is fresh, new and vibrant. "The Boy In The Plastic Bubble" just explodes out of your speakers and for some reason the song reminds me of a carnival. Ladysmith Black Mambazo adds stirring vocals to the sublime "Diamonds On The Soles Of Her Shoes" while adding a plaintive almost mournful sound to "Homeless". Linda Ronstadt supplies a fine harmony vocal on "Under African Skies" while Los Lobos assists on the albums closer "All Around The World". "You Can Call Me Al" had a hilarious video with Chevy Chase but beside having a good video, the song is as bouncy and catchy as anything he's ever recorded. He not only uses South African beats, but he explores zydeco music on "That Was Your Mother" and stays at home on the title track. Graceland is the peak of Paul Simon's long and illustrious career.
13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars New Territory for Paul Simon,
This CD was made in the mid- to late 1980's and features collaborations with many different performers and many different styles. Here, you will hear various South African artists, like Ladysmith Black Mambazo, the Boyoyo Boys, and Baghiti Khumalo; the Everly Brothers; the east L.A. band Los Lobos, the cajun band Good Rockin' Dopsie and the Twisters; and Linda Ronstadt. Listening to this music will take you from the bayou of Louisiana to the heart of Africa.
The first thing that struck my attention is the use of percussion and accordion. This is the emphasis for the songs rather than the guitar work. The second thing is the blending of Zulu and English lyrics like in the songs "I Know What I Know" and "Homeless." Both things are a breath of fresh air into Simon's work.
The two stand-out songs on this album, for me, were "You Can Call Me Al" and "Under African Skies." The former was very popular on MTV at the time, and in concert, Paul Simon usually played this song twice through the early 1990's. That is just how energetic it is. The latter has Linda Ronstadt who has such a great voice.
I would highly recommend this album. The rhythm is catchy and will get your toe tapping.
13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Simply put, the best of the best!,
Good music doesn't get older. This is the point this album keeps on making. What it means is the following;
I am now 16 years old. While most of my generation is listening to the newest rising stars, who will be forgotten in the time it takes to blink, I am absolutely loving (!) the good music from yesterday. Everybody I tell of my taste in music looks at me as if I'm crazy, but the minute I let them hear Paul Simon, they have to agree with me; this is the best of the best.
My point is the following; today's music isn't any good. If it was, trends wouldn't change so much. If you only look at this one album. People of this generation still absolutely love it, while today's music is forgotten tomorrow...
This is music you will remember when you've forgotten everything else. My parents did, and let me hear the great rythms and beats combined with the absolutely great lyrics of Paul Simon's Graceland, and thus got me hooked to one of the greatest artists of the 1980's.
11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "This is the story of how we begin to remember..",
I've always found that to be the album's most telling line. Whether people realize it or not, all the music we know can be traced back to the roots of simple chants and rhythms. The true soul of music the way it was meant to be comes through on Graceland: a joyous sharing of talent and experience. World-class musicians and first-rate songwriting make it one of the most enduring and enjoyable albums I've heard. Paul Simon has helped bring the beauty and wonder of African music to an American public that largely didn't know any better due to being inundated by all the Matchbox 20s and Ricky Martins of the mainstream. It's an album not to be missed. (If you want to go a little further, pick up Passion or Security by Peter Gabriel.)
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars American Rock Meets South African Tribal Beats,
When I was five or six, every time I got into the car with my parents, I would yell for Paul Simon. Not just any Paul Simon album, mind you, but "Graceland." Then, for a tragic period of ten years without "Graceland," I have rediscovered it at the tender age of 17. I popped the old tape back into the cassette player and was blown away. The opening accordian riff and lines got me listening intently right away. ("It was a slow day, and the sun was beating on the soldiers by the side of the road, there was a bright light, a shattering of shop windows, the bomb in the baby carriage was wired to the radio"). The album shifts styles continuously throughout the album. Ladysmith Black Mambazo adds the South African flavor in songs such as "Homeless" and "Diamonds On The Soles Of Her Shoes" (Paul performed a fantastic rendition of the latter on Saturday Night Live). Other standout songs include the title track, "You Can Call Me Al," whose video features a hilarious cameo by Chevy Chase, and "Under African Skies." "Graceland" is easily one of the best albums to come out of the otherwise dismal 80's, and a must-have for most music fans.
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The essential Paul Simon,
From the broken accordian strands of "Boy in the Bubble" to the rousing "Myth of Fingerprints," 'Graceland' is a throughly satisfying album. Not only are the lyrics truly inspiring, but the music is as fresh & energetic as it was in the mid-1980s. This is a classic example of a great record: the production, the use of cultural music, & strong songwriting. The ECD version contains some great clips & interviews which expose the genius behind this album.
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Stellar Album!,
By A Customer
Despite what many think, "Graceland" was not titled as a tribute to Elvis Presley. Paul himself said that "Graceland" dealt with "losing love" and dealing with the "things that happen in our lives, and coming to grips with them, finding a state of GRACE, or acceptance about what has happened." Thus, the title of the album (and title song)is about coming to a place in your life where you are comfortable about what you've been through.
Once rated #5 out of 100 must-have albums, by Entertainment Weekly magazine, "Graceland"has been my favorite album for years. One thing that always stands out in any Paul Simon album, aside from the lyrics, IMO, is the great band Paul always has behind him. "Graceland" is no exception, though the names probably aren't familiar. The title track is one of my top favorites, but "Diamonds On The Soles Of Her Shoes" is full of energy and vitality, as is "Gumboots". Paul, always private, wrote wonderfully cryptic lyrics that hint of the tense relationship/divorce with Ms. Fisher. In "Graceland" he sings: "She comes back to tell me that she's gone"; in Crazy Love, Vol II Paul offers: "She says she knows about jokes, this time the joke is on me".
This album is Paul's most personal one since Paul's flop, "Hearts and Bones". "Graceland", though, is a happy album. Overall, the tunes are upbeat, positive, a real mood lifter. If you are used to the Paul Simon of the 60's, this album will take a little getting used to. The added video clips, with Paul talking about how he wrote the lyrics, and the video of Paul and Ladysmith Black Mambazo performing "Diamonds" is a wonderful addition. This is an album that you should own and perhaps, introduce your children to.
9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I Know What I Knew,
Listening to this album now, what surprises me is that, after 16 years, it still sounds a bit revolutionary. I remember that, on first hearing, the experience was a bit like Bob Dylan's sudden appearance with an electric guitar. All of a sudden the musician I expected had turned into someone else entirely. And, after the initial period of adjustment, I liked what I was hearing.
By drawing from an entire set of different traditions, including a style of African music that no mainstream American had any idea even existed, Paul Simon synthesized a musical form which combined ingenious and tuneful lyrics with infectious rhythms. As I found out when I finally managed to get to his concert, people actually got up and danced to this music - and kept on dancing all night.
What is completely original, isn't the music, but Simon's lyrics. He moves from a serious, and not always subtle, political statements like The Boy in the Bubble or All Around the World to intensely personal monologues like Graceland. He has an ability to turn a phrase and hare off unexpectedly that always leaves me with a renewed respect for the capabilities of the English language.
As such this album has remained once of my all time favorites. The legacy of a singer whose work has marked many of the phases of my life. Just when I get down a bit he manages to remind me that I too am still crazy after all of these years.
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