“Greatest Hits” — Simon & Garfunkel — CBS 69003
Simon & Garfunkel’s Greatest Hits album is a fine memorial to a great duo who over the last six or seven years have produced some of the best and most pleasing popular music. It is a pity that they have finally decided to split up, although Paul Simon has already released a promising solo album. S & G’s musical roots are in folk but with the passing of time and with the gaining of experience and production knowledge they have moved into the less limiting world of rock, and in the last year or so have been into what could be called ‘symphonic’ rock. But without losing sight of the simplicity and directness of folk music.
And as they have progressed, so has their following grown. But without them having to sacrifice their ideas and experiments to please this wider audience. In other words, they are one of the few acts to incorporate the wide spectrum of musical styles available and at the same time have been able to bridge the gap between peoples peculiar likes and dislikes.
Now-a-days, S & G are usually put down by the hipper-than-thou trendies, who seemingly need a new ‘superstar’ to worship every few weeks, and not artists who get better as they develop their talents. Not for them anymore is the singing duo who once only used to turn them on, for now S&G manage to communicate to Mums abd Dads, ‘squares’ and ‘straights’, skinheads and greasers, and all the other social groups that aren’t in the seventh heaven of hip-dom. And that’s a shame for them because they have missed out on much good music and words; words that are more than just romantic sentiments and are valid, realistic comments and descriptions of the emotional states that are part of us all.
Simon & Garfunkel songs like Bridge Over Troubled Water and America are very much anthems of the times we live in. The two people in the latter song are looking for America – for an identity, and aren’t we all looking so very hard for something, something that this materialistic, automated world is unable to provide. And with a song like Bridge Over Troubled Water, there aren’t many people who, in a serious loving relationship with another, couldn’t have applied the words in the song to themselves.
If you have S & G’s other albums, you may find it unnecessary to get this album, although ‘live’ versions of some of their hit singles are included here, but without them losing any of the power of the studio recorded versions.
Also, despite their age, songs like The Sound of Silence and I Am A Rock still sound as convincing as ever, for me the imagery of The Sound of Silence is even more provocative and intriguing than it was before. Personally, I miss the non-inclusion of At The Zoo and Baby Driver, but all the other hits and well-known songs are there.
Greatest Hits albums quite often don’t make it because the songs are out of context from the original way they were presented, or time doesn’t allow songs from different periods in an artists career to jell well together. But with this album none of these problems arise. If you don’t know S & G’s earlier material this album is a good way of getting to hear it, and if you feel like rediscovering past favourites this is an ideal medium to do So. For me, this album will be regularly played for some time to come.