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Monday, March 21, 2011

Music Review: Simon and Garfunkel - "Bridge Over Troubled Water ~ 40th Anniversary Edition"

"Abbey Road," "Who's Next," "Born To Run," "The Joshua Tree" … how do you review a classic album?

Kinda hard right?

What if the album won 6 Grammys including: Album of the Year, Record of the Year and Song of the Year? Even harder still!

Add to that list… it reached #1 on the Billboard Album Charts, spent 6 weeks in that top slot and has since sold over 25 million copies worldwide!

So what is this masterpiece of modern recorded music?

The album in question is Simon and Garfunkel's "Bridge Over Troubled Water" and it would be hard to imagine a "pop/folk/rock" album selling even a fraction of that in 2011. But, in 1970, times were different and this is exactly the kind of music that "the kids" were looking for.

Columbia/Legacy has just released Simon and Garfunkel's 5th, and sadly final album, "Bridge Over Troubled Water" as a 40th Anniversary Edition. All 11 songs are remastered and repackaged with new liner notes. The sound on this new edition is amazing and these modern classics have never sounded better: "Bridge Over Troubled Water," "El Condor Pasa (If I Could)," "Cecilia," and "The Boxer." It is hard to believe that all those songs came from the one album. Creatively Simon was on a roll.

Lyrics such as ...

I have squandered my resistance
For a pocket full of mumbles such are promises
All lies and jests
Still a man hears what he wants to hear
And disregards the rest

… seem so mature that it is hard to believe that Simon was only 29 when he wrote them. And let's not forget Art Garfunkel. Sure he has the angelic voice that brought the title track to life, but what people might not know is that Art was a master arranger and his in-studio contributions were crucial to the final production.

The 40th Anniversary edition CD also comes with a DVD that includes a newly produced documentary on the making of the album called "The Harmony Game." "The Harmony Game" includes recent interviews with Simon, Garfunkel and producer Roy Halee as well as the musicians that played on the album. The documentary takes you inside the studio and gives you a first hand description of the writing and recording process. If you think recording a couple guys with guitars is easy… I can tell you it was not.

The DVD also includes a television special called "Songs Of America" that has not been seen since it originally aired on the CBS television network on November 30, 1969. The original special was directed by actor Charles Grodin and featured many songs from the yet to be released "Bridge Over Troubled Water" album. At the time the special was not well received because people who thought they were tuning in to a music or concert special got more than they had bargained for with the duo's political views featured front and center. This special serves as a document to a period in US history that is sometimes forgotten but is just as meaningful and relevant to what is happening in the world in 2011.

My daughter is 6 years-old, the same age I was when "Bridge Over Troubled Water" was released. Will there be an album released this year that she will listen to in 2051? It would be so nice if there was but, if not she can always pick up the one that was made 80 years before her 46th birthday.

So how do you review a classic album? It's actually pretty simple… just sit back, turn the lights down low, put the headphones on (I mean, the earbuds in) and enjoy one of the most important albums ever made. Not just for its time but for all-time.

Drumroll please… 10 out of 10 drumsticks!

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