George Starostin's Reviews



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Peter Castanos <> (27.10.2001)

The style used by Paul Simon on 'Mother and Child Reunion' is called rock steady which is a slowed-down version of ska that pre-dated what we now call reggae by a year or so. They all share the accent on the off beat.

Chris Papadopoulos <> (23.11.2001)

This is one of my favourite solo acoustic albums. As you point out, Simon is in really fine voice, and his picking is first class, particularly on 'Peace Like A River', which I think is the pick of the tracks.

'Papa Hobo' has my favourite lines on the whole LP: "Detroit, Detroit/got a hell of a hockey team/ got a left-handed way of making a man/sign up on that automotive dream". And I actually enjoy 'Congratulations', especially the brilliant electric piano outro.

A great late night record.

John Herbert <> (17.01.2006)


From your review for Paul Simons 1st solo self-titled: "The album does get slightly weaker towards the end - where it loses its one star out of five, because I simply can't get through the insipid 'Congratulations', and that hobo suite starts to get unmemorable in a while (although I have to admit that Stephane Grappelli's violin playing on 'Hobo's Blues' is breathtaking, if somewhat generic)."

I think you're missing the boat on "Congratulations"! It does start out kind of lame with him singing "congratulations" but it turns into a pretty song (with a fun, slightly Ray Charles-esque organ outro), I was thinking you should give it a second chance. Actually, I can kind of imagine Ray Charles recording this song in its entirety. But overall, yes, the album gets weaker towards the end.


John Davey <> (12.12.2000)

Yeah, it's not too great in the house. Take it on a journey with you and it makes more sense, though. And consider 'American Tune' in the context of America's 200th birthday in 1977 when it was used as a theme song.

Glenn Wiener <> (12.02.2002)

I like this recording a great deal. But the best thing about the record is the texture. Some good slipery keyboards and soothing horns, strings, and backup singers make it a treat to my ears. Truthfully 'Kodachrome' is pretty darn catchy as well as 'Loves Me Like A Rock' and 'One Man's Ceiling Is Another Man's Floor'. 'Learn How To Fall' has a nice acoustic guitar pasage and 'American Tune' is pretty in a poignant kind of way. The other tunes are certainly quite listenable at the least and pretty good at the best.

Mookie Wilson <> (04.04.2002)

I suppose I'm somewhat biased, because I fell in love with this album when I was only about eight, so it holds a sentimental value for me. Still, I do have to defend it. I happen to like it a great deal. I don't think the "smoothness" is bad at all, but rather enjoy it. I like his other albums a lot too, but this is up there. Also, just a note, that the tune of "American Tune" is actually not even his. He drew it from an old hymn. I'll send you another message to tell you what its title is. I sing it at church though occasionally. I think Bach did some of the arrangement for the hymn.

Ron Papke <> (20.03.2003)

Wow, I love this album. 'American tune' is fantastic, but you have listen behind the texture to what is going on. 'Kodachrome' is about drugs and aside from being catchy is really a moving tale of addiction. I'm really suprised you enjoyes th eself-titles and not this one. I think this album takes about a week to absorb, at least it did for me. Even something as simple as in "Was a Sunny Day," the line "her name was laurali/she was his only girl/ she called him "speedo" but his christian name was Mr. Earl/, has sucha sweetness to it that even in a vacuum of any specific meaning, it is moving in its innate sweetness.

Blair <> (09.10.2003)

To my knowledge, the tune from "American tune" comes out of Bach's "St Matthews passion". The theme is repeated all along the work, in different keys and with clever, subtle changes. Mookie Wilson says Bach only arranged it, and that it's an older hymn. This may well be. I like the album though (Simon's, I mean). I find "One man's ceiling..." very pleasant, with each verse in a different key, and I enjoy the mellow production. As a French listener, English words are sounds to me more than meaning-conveying tools, which enables me to appreciate songs like Kodachrome for their catchiness, without suffering from the lyrics...

Derrick Pohl <> (09.02.2006)

I agree the album is light on Simon gems, but "American Tune"? That's one of his best songs ever, including the S&G years! I find the bridge especially sublime "I dreamed I was dying / I dreamed and my soul rose unexpectedly / and looking back down on me / smiled reassuringly." That there's right good poeticizin'. It's fun to play on guitar too -- tons of chord changes, very fast ones of only a beat or two each at times, but they're all pretty easy chords, so with practice you can master it and sound like a virtuoso.


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Mats Fjäll <> (07.12.2000)

'50 Ways To Leave Your Lover' is based on a lullaby that Paul made up while singing his son to sleep.

<> (28.11.2001)

Hey, can I say this album rules? I don't like Rhymin' Simon either, but come on! This album is just amazing, even better than Paul Simon. Got it?


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<> (19.06.2004)

This is my favorite Paul Simon album.

I'm usually not a word man, but the lyrics on so many of these songs are so well put together as to be exceptional. He pulls off some whacked-out rhymes ("Los Angeles...unscramble us" in "Think Too Much") gets interesting ideas from humdrum everyday things ("Allergies" "When Numbers Get Serious" "Song About The Moon" "Cars Are Cars"). His Lennon tribute is not at all too straightforward (think instead of "All Those Years Ago" or "Here Today") but instead gives us an thought-provoking parallel with the death of Johnny Ace (who died playing Russian roulette).

"Hearts And Bones" itself I think was about his brief marraige to Carrie Fisher (You remember Princess Leia, right George?). It is also a musical forebearer to "Graceland" same key, same loping rhythm and travelogue-style lyrics. "Rene and Georgette" is another curveball, being about late 50's doo-wop vocal groups.

The best song, though, out of many, is "Train In The Distance" which is also my favorite Paul Simon song of all. I can listen to it and the musical groove it gets into with the lights low and imagine myself on the train at night between Chicago and Niles. When you try doing little train effects in your arrangement (on the backing vocals and the rhythm track here) it could easily get corny, but on this song it's really cool. Paul must have liked it a lot too, since he titled his first Greatest Hits collection "Negotiations and Love Songs" after one of "Trains" lines.

One last historical note. This was originally intended to be a Simon and Garfunkel studio reunion album coming on the heels of their Central Park concert. They toured after that and I saw them do versions of "Allergies," "Hearts And Bones," "Song About The Moon," and "The Late Great Johnny Ace" onstage in Pontiac (unfortunately the acoustics at the Silverdome were pretty bad, very echoey!) But they had a fight during or after the sessions and Paul ended up wiping out all of Artie's vocals from the tapes.


Glenn Wiener <> (19.10.2002)

Creative recording indeed.  This is one of those record where the hits 'You Can Call Me Al', 'Boy In The Bubble', and 'Graceland' standout the most. 'Homeless' is unusual with the acapella treatment and 'I Know What I Know' features unusual harmonies. Gosh those background singers sound like birds. The other tracks are OK but not as memorable. As good as this is, I prefer Bridge Over Troubled Waters, Parsley Sage Rosemary and Thyme, and possibly Rhyming Simon to this.

Pete Schlenker <> (23.10.2002)

A good album. One of the best of the 80s. This album, I'm guessing, exposed a lot of people to not only world music, but decent vocal harmony. Not to mention the cool zydeco take. I've never been a huge fan of Simon and Garfunkel (or folk music, for that matter), but I do love this album a lot, if for no other reason that it just flows together well. Worth the money.

Ben Kramer <> (23.10.2002)

I'm not terribly impressed with Paul's solo career. Well, actually, I'm not impressed at all, though there is one exception - Graceland. It's kind of funny really. I completely agree that there are no stand out classics on here, except maybe 'The Boy In the Bubble' and 'Under African Skies', yet the overall sound of the album is tremendous. It doesn't hurt that five or six of these songs are excellent, especially considering Paul's somewhat dry and uninteresting solo career, but he definitely got the world beat thing down, and it sounds amazing. Paul may not have been the creator of integrating African and Latin beats into American and European pop, but he might have taken to its peak here. Also, I have noticed that this album has an interesting type of resonance. None of the songs are incredibly moving, yet somehow, Graceland as a whole is moving. There isn't anything special in the lyrics, and comparing Paul to John Lennon is something that will make me sick to my stomach, and I love S&G. Whether it has a straight forward explanation or not, Graceland is somewhat moving, and you NEVER get that from one of Paul's solo albums. Anyway, glad you like it, even if it isn't as much as I do. Maybe my dad playing it for me when I was just a small lad influenced my taste in music. I'd give it a 14 on your overall scale. Definitely one of the best 80's albums, and there is no competition when comparing this to Paul's other albums, unless you're someone who compares The Rolling Stones to Aerosmith.

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