Since September 2010, this blog has recorded the journey of this music junkie as I attempt to listen to all the music in my CD collection. CDs revisited in their entirety from start to finish - no skipping tracks, no shuffle. Compact Discs only - no vinyl, no tapes, no files.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Simon and Garfunkel - The Concert in Central Park (1982)


Recorded in New York City, September 19, 1981.

Reunion concerts are commonplace these days because performers and promoters realize there's a lot of money to be made at such events. Back in 1981, however, this particular reunion concert was a huge event. And while I'm sure everyone made money with record, VHS and DVD sales, the concert itself was a free event on the Great Lawn of Central Park for an estimated 500,000 fans. The setlist reads like a S&G greatest hits album, plus there's also 5 of Simon's solo hits included as well. The backup band is fantastic, as you would expect, and, to me, the stars of the show aren't necessarily S&G, but the playing of Richard Tee on electric piano and Steve Gadd on drums. Those two played out of their heads that night; I'm glad those instruments aren't lost in a bad mix.

Press of the time:
  • Billboard: "gloriously recaptures the past"
  • CashBox: "surpasses almost every other live recording set down on wax"
  • Rolling Stone (★★★★): "chemistry is recaptured"
  • Robert Christgau (C+): "live doubles are live doubles, nostalgia is nostalgia, wimps are wimps, and who needs any of 'em?"
  • Record World: "every cut is a timeless hit"
  • Stereo Review: "The album is more documentation"

Peak on the US Billboard Top 200 chart: #6
Peak on the Billboard Rock Album chart: #36
Peak on CashBox album chart: #7

Tracks: My favorites include Mrs. Robinson, Me And Julio Down By The Schoolyard, Late In The Evening, Kodachrome/Maybellene, and Fifty Ways To Leave Your Lover; the latter two are far better than their respective studio recordings. The cover of Wake Up Little Susie is excellent. I usually skip America and Old Friends. The best tune (and the reason I bought this CD) is Bridge Over Troubled Water. Not only is the song a beautiful classic that I often sing in the shower or car (I sound fan-tas-tic, btw), this version has a haunting, gospel-tinged accompaniment by Richard Tee that has stuck in my head since I first heard it in the early '80s. The final track, The Sound Of Silence, isn't a bad song, but I think it's an unusual choice to end a concert or concert CD.

Personal Memory Associated with this CD: Thinking back, it's a miracle I graduated from high school because during that time in my life I didn't think about school, only girls and music (in that order). My sister had a cassette tape of this album at the time of its release; she may still have it. I would sometimes sneak into her room and take the tape to listen to it. In the years between 1980 and 1988 particularly, I was thirsty for new music constantly; I wanted to soak it all in: folk, jazz, classical, pop, rock, show tunes, etc. To that end, I was willing to risk life and limb by entering my sister's room to get something new to listen to.

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