53 of 55 people found the following review helpful
Paul Simon followed up the classic Graceland, his fusion of African and Western pop music with this stunning album of great songs with a South American and more particularly Brazilian flavour. This reissue includes four previously unreleased tracks.
The Obvious Child is my favorite, a powerful melodic song with great drums and guitars and a wistful, nostalgic feel. Another favorite is The Coast, a story about a family of musicians taking shelter in a church; this song really impresses with its flowing melody, polyrhythmic drum patterns and moving lyrics.
Proof is another charming pop song, particularly noted for its evocative backing vocals and gentle, lilting rhythm whilst Further To Fly and She Moves On are more subdued, melancholy numbers with bubbling and insistent rhythmic patterns.
The mood lifts with the uptempo and buoyant Born At The Right Time, once again a lyrical and musical masterpiece and filled with catchy hooks. The guitar and atmospheric backing voices of Spirit Voices are beyond compare whilst the title track is a meandering piece with innovative instrumental flourishes.
What makes these songs particularly moving is that Simon tells the stories of ordinary people and that his perceptive, poetic lyrics are carried so well on the exotic instrumentation. Of course, the beautiful tunes have a lot to do with that. Rhythm Of The Saints may not be as immediately appealing as Graceland and may not offer quite as many classics, but it remains a major achievement, a brilliant marriage of Brazilian and Western popular musical styles.
41 of 42 people found the following review helpful
on May 12, 2000
One of my top 10 favorite albums of all time, _The Rhythm of the Saints_ is absolutely Paul Simon's best work, easily outdistancing his groundbreaking work on _Graceland_. Where _Graceland_ felt in places like an experimental coupling of two traditions, _Rhythm_ gives us an artist now confident with the blending of musical influences.
What comes forth in _Rhythm_ is complete emotional evocation. Like the best classical music, the efforts here are so fully realized that you can actually *see* the music. Putting this CD into your player is inviting this music to define another world for your mind to play in.
"Further to Fly" is perhaps the best example the album has to offer of this visual transportation. To me, it has always represented what Africa (or, to a lesser extent, any place) feels like to a foreigner. The unique combination of the drums, the guitar, and Simon's own hauntingly-produced voice makes me actually see Africa from the luxurious, safe height of a plane.
Yet, what makes Simon so satisfying here is that of course the lyrics often aren't directly about what the music feels like on first listen. "Further to Fly", to continue to the example, has many different levels of interpretation, most of which have nothing really to do with actual travel.
This, then, is an album that continues to give up its secrets long after it has seduced you with its music. It will be one you long keep in your CD player just so you can return to its world with ease.
47 of 51 people found the following review helpful
on November 21, 2004
I'm coming out of the closet and finally putting myself on record as saying that this is Paul Simon's best album as a solo artist. I also agree with other reviewers--this is one of the fifty best albums of the twentieth century.
Although Graceland was a landmark record, there were many "outside" issues with that record. Troubles with cultural snobbery and exploitation (particularly of Los Lobos), unsituated appropriation of "Third World" musics and musicalisms, and just plain screwed up "liberal" New York elitism. Some of that is still here in this album--even Caetano Veloso took some pot shots at Paul Simon, as has Carlinhos Brown.
But great art is judged by time as much as anything else, and I believe that this is a fascinating and moving record, whose subtle and shifting rhythms, melodies, harmonies, and chords represent perhaps the best admixture of Brazilian, African, and American sensibilities in the history of pop music (Jazz music is here, of course, excepted; that music is beyond this discussion and is in an entirely separate category). The single biggest thing that sticks out for me about this album is the percussion work. You get a broad and deep emotional working out of a variety of African-matrixed South American percussion styles, and the perhaps biggest musical achievement by Simon here is his sly and sophisticated incorporation of a stunning variety of polyrythms into his already legendary folk and folksy pop music. This music is at times simply gorgeous--it flows like a river, and on occasion it flows thick and lovingly like hot lava.
This is grown-up, laid back, (in the best American/Brazilian collaborative tradition), intelligent, lovely, and wise music.
22 of 22 people found the following review helpful
on September 4, 1999
Without a doubt my all time favorite album. Not just my favorite Paul Simon album. This album is a complete crossover for the pop world . Paul Simon has created an experience with this collection of songs. His lyrics are simple and to the point and make you wish that feelings you had could be expressed so blunt and with such beauty. Lines such as "wash you tangled curls with gamblers soap", pervey a sense of grace that is universal. The afro- cuban and latin percussion is stunning.I bought this album five years ago and still listen to it almost every day..Just buy it..If I took the time to write this it is well worth the time listening to it.
16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
on August 22, 2004
This CD is fascinating. It leans far away from the radio-friendly cross-genre pop of Graceland into uncharted territory. The songwriting on this album is amazing. Complex arrangements and orchestrations synthesizing timbre, rhythm, and genre make this album one of those that EVERY time you listen to it, you hear something new.
Don't get me wrong, Graceland is genius. This CD however is much deeper and much more powerful. It works cohesively as a record - flowing from one song to the next. It is underrated how tight the songs work within the framework of the album. This album mixes Brazilian and Afro-cuban elements - NOT simply just "African" music - with sublime ambient rock with supreme song and lyricism to create a sound totally unique.
Do yourself a huge favor and buy this CD. It is masterfully performed and produced, and it shows how Simon can easily be called one of the greatest songwriting geniuses of the 20th century.
17 of 18 people found the following review helpful
on June 15, 2006
I really think it's Simon's best. This, and perhaps (in a very different style) "Paul Simon." I'm just listening to it again after several years...the melodies are intricate, the words are vivid and allusive, the range is astounding. Graceland has a wonderful rock-style going on, but I really think this is my favorite. I know a lot of non-Simon fans who love this one album. It's just fantastic.
12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
on August 16, 2001
Graceland was an excellent album for Paul Simon--it did, after all, win him a best album Grammy--which makes this album that much more exceptional for surpassing his previous effort. There are a lot of people who would disagree with me, I'm sure, but ultimately I think that Simon achieves something much more remarkable with Rhythm of the Saints than with his 1986 masterpiece. With Rhytm, Simon does more than compile a collection of excellent music, but he also evokes an atmosphere and feeling not present in his earlier work. Listening to Graceland feels to me like listening to a synthesis album, while listening to Rhythm of the Saints is something like experiencing a foreign environment firsthand.
Considered objectively, without reference to Simon's earlier work, the album is still excellent. While it doesn't have quite as many of those catchy songs as you might expect (Obvious Child is the one that comes to mind, and perhaps The Coast), that's probably in keeping with the exemplary atmosphere of the album. This isn't an album that really ought to be partitioned and segmented--each song flows into the others to form a rich tapestry for the listener. All things considered, this is an exceptional piece of music, and one that probably ought to be in any listener's library, whether he be a Paul Simon fan, a devotee of multicultural music, or simply an appreciator of music itself.
10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
After exploring African sounds on his wildly successful Graceland album, Paul Simon travels to another continent for new beats to explore. Rhythm Of The Saints takes on the sounds of south American, more specifically, Brazil. Just as he did on Graceland, he manages to incorporate these sounds into his own and sound completely authentic. The first song on the album "The Obvious Child" is a brilliant creation. With its manic drumbeats and carnival like sounds, the song marches out of your speakers with a syncopatic precision. "The Coast" is a great song about life on the road and "Proof" is a bouncy song. "The Cool, Cool River" is a beautiful, airy song while the title track pounds along. The Rhythm Of The Saints continues Paul Simon's long standing tradition of incorporating unusual rhythms into his own folksy sound.
14 of 16 people found the following review helpful
on July 5, 2005
This is one of the rare CD's that get better every time you hear it. There's no catchy hooks like the ones in Graceland, but it's suffused with the same spirit. Simon has always been the master of couching dark lyrics in emotions in upbeat tunes (think Sound of Silence). Listening to Cool, Cool River, Can't Run But and The Obvious Child makes you realize that he's still that dark spirit yearning upward for spiritual redemption. Not all the tunes are as much fun as the title song or Born At the Right Time, but they all hold out hope for a lost generation.
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on November 6, 2002
I got this CD when it first came out, and it has really never left my consistent play list. No album has ever done that for me. About 5 or 6 six years ago, I started referring to this album as the very best album - any artist, any genre - that I have ever heard. My absolute favorite album of all time.
For one, this is a collection of great songs, every one. The music and words fit perfectly together. With creative melodies and rich harmonies, the brilliance of the lyrics seem to flow effortlessly out of the music - not too pushy, but also not too subtle. Plus, this is his best purely lyrical work throughout the course of any entire album, in my opinion - laced with subtle double meanings and multidimensional images. The lyrics here are at once deeply personal and universal - potent and touching - intelligent and sensual. This is the best lyrical effort from perhaps the finest lyricist in modern music.
Also, the musicianship is flawless, intricate and beautiful throughout the album. The different guitar parts intertwine with bass playing that is mind-blowing. And the DRUMS!!! It's all overpowering and subtle at the same time � melodic and rhythmic.
Finally, this album stands out as more than just a great collection of songs - it also stands as a coherent album. This is the main way I see this album rising above even the Graceland effort (which is obviously brilliant in its own right). Each song seems to flow from the previous song into the next (lyrics, music and tone) - each song sounds like a part of this album, while remaining so different from the others. The whole album evokes a mood that is indescribable and unmistakable at the same time. Even the mixing and production of the album are top notch (Listen to this disk on quality headphones). There are very subtle delay effects on the voice and guitars that add color, and while there are many different things going on musically at any given time, it never gets overwhelming. I�ve never heard a �warmer� sounding album.
This album is brilliant through and through - it belongs on a shelf of its own, mounted somewhere above your top shelf of CDs.