Unreleased (and previously unknown!) versions of the old folk songs Barbriallen; Rose of Aberdeen , and The Roving Gambler (plus the bonus track The Blues Run the Game ) make their sophomore effort even more indispensable.
One suspects that Paul Simon cringes a bit when he listens to Simon & Garfunkel's 1966 breakthrough release. Lines from "I Am a Rock" ("For a rock feels no pain / And an island never cries") and the title track ("Fools, said I, you do not know / Silence like a cancer grows") are the essence of sophomoric poetry. And who but a couple of self-serious young men would sequence the suicide odes "Richard Cory" and "A Most Peculiar Man" back to back? That said, every callow couplet found here is counterbalanced by words that are disarmingly guileless. The unabashed romanticism of "Kathy's Song" is truly poignant; it ranks with "For Emily" and "The Only Living Boy in New York" among the duo's most resplendent performances. "April Come She Will" has a similar innocent appeal, while the title track, despite its overwrought moments and Tom Wilson's tacked-on production, is a folk-rock landmark. It's not hard to find fault with The Sounds of Silence
, but it's easier still to bask in its inchoate splendor. (The 2001 reissue adds the bonus track "The Blues Run the Game" plus three unreleased 1970 demos.) --Steven Stolder