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Graceland Enhanced

4.8 out of 5 stars 538 customer reviews

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Audio CD, Enhanced, April 22, 1997
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Editorial Reviews

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The melding of South African styles and Simon's trademark sensibility made for one of the most intriguing albums--not to mention commercial hits--of the '80s. At once lively, thoughtful, gorgeous, and tough, Graceland acknowledges splits both in South Africa's social fabric and in Simon's personal life (the title track is a clear descendant of the earlier "Hearts and Bones," a song about the singer-songwriter's brief marriage to Carrie Fisher). Humor is hardly absent from the mix, though; witness the addled "I Know What I Know" and the fable-like "You Can Call Me Al." --Rickey Wright
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Product Details

  • Audio CD (April 22, 1997)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Format: Enhanced
  • Label: Warner Bros.
  • ASIN: B000002NBY
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (538 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #122,224 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Audio CD
Note: This is a review of the remastered sound quality on the 25th Anniversary CD release.

About the only good reason to remaster a classic album for CD these days is to improve upon errors made on past remasters, since most classic albums have now been released on CD multiple times already. The best a remastering can do is to faithfully reproduce the sound of the original album, as it was intended by the creative forces that produced it, and possibly improve on it with a superior higher-resolution transfer of the original tape. More often than not, however, remasters are just used as a justification by the record companies for the umpteenth dip into our wallets, doing nothing to improve the sound, and going a good distance toward making it worse. Unfortunately, that is exactly what we have with this latest version of Graceland. Rather than giving us something noticeably better than the previous 2004 remaster, Sony has just given us more of the same. Because the company has its eye on the deluxe package market, with all the bonus tracks, luxury-grade packaging, DVD concert, and an $85 price tag, the album itself has become almost an afterthought. That is unfortunate, because this classic album deserves better.

A bit of a history lesson for the unaware: Graceland was first issued in 1986. Mastered by Greg Calbi, the CD at that time presented the album very well - with an appropriate level of gain that left breathing room for the dynamics, and a natural, mellow EQ that allowed the music to speak for itself. Indeed, comparisons to vintage vinyl reveal that the 1986 CD was very similar in sound and dynamic range to initial vinyl pressings of the album. In 2004, Warner reissued the album with (non-essential) bonus tracks.
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Format: Audio CD
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.
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Format: Audio CD
The 25th Anniversary remaster is a victim of the loudness war that is killing the dynamic range of modern music. The compression of the dynamic range has made this remastered CD nearly unlistenable. The title track on the original 1986 release has a dynamic range of 13, while the same track on the 25th Anniv. remaster has been squashed to 7. The openness is gone and individual instruments are all at the same level: LOUD. This might be fine for dance music, but not for Paul Simon. Remaster engineer Greg Calbi of Sterling Sound can do incredible work, but this isn't one of them. Also, I don't own the 2004 Rhino remaster, so I can't compare it. All in all, my advice is to stick to the 1986 CD release.
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Format: Audio CD
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.Read more ›
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