87 of 91 people found the following review helpful
on January 30, 1999
This video was recored live in Central Park on September 19, 1981. I think it deserves more than 5 stars. I think is the greatest video that ever was. Simon and Garfunkel sing infront of 500,000 people. It contains 2 extra songs that were cut from the album; The late great Johnny Ace, and Late in the evening(reprise). Durring The Late Great Johnny Ace, a duranged fan jumps on stage after Paul sings about John Lennon being shot. Paul gets real scared and the bouncer comes and grabs the kid and takes him away. The highlight of the evening I think is when Paul sang 50 Ways to Leave Your Lover. Art sings an OK version of Bridge over troubled water. Paul and Art play with an amazing backing band too. Also much of the dialogue that was cut from the record, is restored on the tape. Things such as intro's of songs, Paul introduces the band, and Paul had a speech about fireworks. I think it is great and you should buy it. You can't be considered a Simon and Garfunkel fan without it.
48 of 49 people found the following review helpful
I was happy to see Simon and Garfunkel in concert on their recent "Old Friends" tour, and was more than pleased by the performance of two men who, by all rights, should've been retired and not in the best of vocal form. The afterglow of the Philadelphia show led me to acquire this DVD from the 1981 Central Park reunion show. Since most of the songs from the current tour are reflected by the Central Park set list, it was worth it for me.
This DVD is actually better than I originally remember from watching it on TV. Maybe I was just too wrapped up in my new wave years (I was a junior in college at the time the album was released), but both men were in strong form vocally. It also meant that, as a greatest hits sort of show, all the bases are essentially covered. Even the Paul Simon solo material comes across as well matched (in particular, "American Tune" which rings truer in the post 9/11 world as it did back then). The instrumentation is a bit dated, Richard Tee's keyboards especially, but that's more the fault of the times than of performance.
And the performances here are superb. Oddly, the one major musical flub from the disc is "The Late Great Johnny Ace." It was Simon's tribute to John Lennon and is when a fan charges the stage, distracting Simon from the microphone. Art Garfunkel is relegated to only one solo hit here, and naturally it's "A Heart In New York." Just as "counting the cars on the New Jersey Turnpike" gets a huge outburst of applause (it did here in Philly, too), "Heart" brings the crowd to express itself with exuberence.
On the other hand, when Art begins to sing "Bridge Over Troubled Water," it's hard not to notice that he can still sound like the folk singing choirboy of the sixties, and even more so for "The Sound of Silence." Despite all the infighting, back biting and legendary arguments that Simon and Garfunkel have shared over their career, there is no denying that - as a duo - they created magic. After 20 years, I'm glad "The Concert In Central Park" is in my DVD library.
There are a few minuses: A serious lack of extra features. Jamming two songs into one chapter, and not just once but six times. Crappy liner notes/graphics. The fact that you can still sense the personal tension between Art and Paul. (They were supposed to produce an album entitled "Think Too Much" together after the tour, the resulting album was Paul's "Hearts and Bones.")
PS: I eagerly await the inevitable "Old Friends" concert CD and DVD, and would also recommend Paul Simon's "Concert In The Park" from 1991.
31 of 34 people found the following review helpful
on January 13, 2005
Is there anyone who grew up in the 1960s and 1970s that isn't familiar with the terrific music of Simon and Garfunkel??
Well, this DVD of their 1981 reunion concert before 500,000 people in New York's Central Park brings back lots of fond memories, laced as it with nice renditions of classics like "Mrs. Robinson", "Scarborough Fair", "Bridge Over Troubled Water", "The Boxer" and "The Sound of Silence".
Backed by a band of stellar musicians that included Richard Tee on piano and Steve Gadd on drums, the duo also run through some of their solo hits, like Simon's "Kodachrome".
Did I say the concert is terrfic?? Sure it is, but the DVD is truly horrible. The video looks only a little better than its VHS origins, and couldn't the music company have popped up the money for upgrading the plain Dolby Digital 2.0 track to a full-fledged surround track?? That would have made this a truly great package.
Even with these drawbacks, this is a must buy for S&G fans, as well as those seeking a DVD to acquaint themselves with the music of S&G.
20 of 21 people found the following review helpful
on September 3, 2002
A Simon & Garfunkel fan since 1965, I was thrilled to see this concert on HBO back in '81. Everyone who has reviewed it has said the music was fantastic, and it was. It was a reunion concert that left the audience completely satisfied. My reason for writing this review is really to comment on S & G's actions towards each other. They never spent much time looking at each other in ANY concert that I ever saw, so I didn't expect them to do so in Central Park. Some other reviewers have mentioned that, and stated, essentially, that they let petty bitterness show through. I never had that impression at any point. Several smiles were exchanged between them, as well as some of what I presumed to have been friendly comments between songs. During The Boxer, Art Garfunkel put his arm around Paul's shoulders a couple times...and let's not forget the easy way they each slung an arm around the other at the end of the show. I think they were, and are, true professionals who have more class than to display personal problems to their audience(s).
20 of 22 people found the following review helpful
on September 11, 2003
I can't say enough good things about the concert and the performance. The music is wonderful and the duo sounds great together. The harmonies are lovely.
The 4 stars (rather than 5) is primarily for what the DVD lacks -- there are no extra features, and the instrumental solos seem very muted as compared to the vocals.
But the person who said that "The Late Great Johnny Ace" was cut must have gone off to the bathroom for a bit -- it's definitely there. It's true that the song title is not on the liner notes -- which is, perhaps, suggestive of how much care went into this DVD -- but the full song, complete with the fan coming up on stage while Paul Simon is singing, is there.
I hope they come out with a special edition of this DVD with improved sound mixing, better chapter selection (as others have noted, it's annoying to have two songs grouped into a chapter -- it should be one song, one chapter), accurate liner notes, and extra features (perhaps some commentary).
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
This reunion concert with Simon and Garfunkel in Central Park, recorded in 1981, was historically, a very important event for many of their fans fortunate enough to be present for the performance, as well as the rest of us who caught it on PBS, as part of one of their more successful pledge drive efforts. Though, Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel had split over artistic and [no doubt] personality differences, this concert really was the bridge made over their troubled waters, to reacquaint two old friends together through the music that had brought them so close in the past.
Even twenty-six years later, you can feel the real passion that these two men have for music, and for the best songs from their repertoire. Paul Simon penned many great hits, during his time spent recording with Garfunkel in their musical partnership. They include songs like "Bridge Over Troubled Water," their interpretation of the traditional folk ballad, "Scarborough Fair," "America," "Mrs. Robinson," "Wake Up Little Susie," and a slew of other tunes. Those two have a haunting quality to their performances that truly sounds like a throwback to the era of minstrels from the middle ages, yet, the arrangements fuse "old" together with "new," sustaining their fanbase that they acquired in the 1960s, as well as newer listeners drawn in by the more modern arrangements. You will truly enjoy this concert, and its a great recording that you could easily watch over again numerous times, without losing interest.
14 of 16 people found the following review helpful
on February 27, 2001
I don't agree with any of the quibbles with this video. My impression was that, while certainly it is clear there is tension between Paul and Art, both put their heart and soul into this performance. The versions of Sounds of Silence, Parsley Sage Rosemary and Thyme, American Tune, America, and other songs are fabulous. The back up band is outstanding. Most remarkable of all is how Paul and Art, even though they rework the rhythm of many of the songs, sing in absolute synch without even looking at each other, as if they are two halves of the same soul. Both men are in fine voice, the audience is totally enthralled, and Paul and Art even appear to warm up to each other towards the end. I could have done without the reprise of Late in the Evening and the Simon song Late Great Johnny Ace (my own quibbles!), but these are trivial in the context of this great concert.
10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
To the 1/2 million people that attended this historic central park concert, the sound of Mayor Ed Koch introducing Simon and Garfunkel was the was the beginning of a very special evening. Both Paul and Art are native new yorkers, who will always have a special rapport with the NY crowd as seen in this spectacular DVD. Long overdue, this DVD of the central park show, has both adequate sound and picture quality. The audiophiles out there, might not be happy with the lack of super-sonic surround sound, but who cares? Simon and Garfunkel never sounded better, and they are backed by an all-star session band including, Steve Gadd, the late Richard Tee, Grady Tate, Anthony Jackson, and Pete Carr to name a few. Some of the live cuts actually sound better than the original studio versions. "Fifty Ways To Leave Your Lover" has a down right jazz funk feel to it and "Mrs. Robinson" is more upbeat than the original studio version. I was one of those lucky people in Central Park that evening, but this DVD gives me a better view, then I ever had that night and lots of great memories as well. At $10 dollars, this disc is a steal and should be in every baby boomers music library.
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on April 15, 2000
I really looked forward to receiving this video and I wasn`t disappointed. The atmosphere was electric, you could almost feel you were there, amongst all those obviously adoring fans. The music was as I expected it to be, brilliant, Simon& Garfunkel put so much feeling into their songs & it certainly comes over in this video, which is a definite must for any Simon & Garfunkel fan, all the old favourite`s are there sound of silence, homeward bound, Mrs Robinson and also lots of others. Paul Simon sings a couple of his solo hits & Art garfunkel sings a rousing rendition of Bridge over Troubled Water. Worth every penny or cent. I`d give it 10 stars!
11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
on October 22, 2005
And the vision planted in my brain, still remains! I only dropped a 5-spot for this grand concert in Central Park (at Target even)? WHAT A FRIGGIN' DEAL - I have already watched it 7 or 8 times and I'm just getting started (how much was a ticket to this event?). Many of these songs evoke memories of The Graduate of course (that's cool, great movie), but to people who were children when these albums first came out in the 60's, WHAT A NOSTALGIA TRIP! Planted in my brain, still remains...I'll say! No one dares disturb the sounds of silence when the classics are lovingly presented by these two brilliant musicians (obviously this song, in the encore, had a huge imact). Special mention should be made of Steve Gadd on drums and the many excellent lesser known pros filling out the show (Nice electric guitar work, etc.), the presentation and production are first rate. Highlights: Homeward Bound, America, Scarborough Fair, April Come She Will...just beautiful, Bridge Over Troubled Water...unreal, 50 ways to Leave Your Lover...sharp, The Boxer...a true highlight - I can listen to it endlessly. Encores: The Sound of Silence (the words of the prophets are written on the subway walls...people hearing, but not listening?)...The fans are transfixed by this gorgeous song. Then the lighthearted Late in the Evening...what a great night in Central Park and gift to the many, many fans. Yes this concert, though a little short at 88 minutes, is a delight to say the least. I should take up Karaoke just to sing songs like this and develop the heavenly harmonies that flow like water here. This is really fun to sing, drum and play guitar with if you are so inclined. A bridge over troubled water? The waters part for this and no bridge is needed. Enjoy this rare event!