Since September 2010, this blog has recorded the journey of this middle-aged man 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. CDs only - no vinyl, no tapes, no downloads. And just as CD technology (and the album format itself) becomes obsolete. I'm no music critic, just a music junkie with too much time on my hands.

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Paul Simon - Stranger To Stranger (2016)

NEW MUSIC WEEK 2016 (NOVEMBER 14-20, 2016)

"It's as inviting, immaculately produced, jokey and unsettled a record as any he has ever made."
-Rolling Stone in a ★★★★ review (June 7, 2016)

For a singer/songwriter, Simon uses rhythm in ways that set him apart and above. This album is full of his characteristic arrhythmic phrasing as well as world music influences (we won't get into a discussion of cultural appropriation right now, kthnx). I don't know who Clap! Clap! is, but I really dig his contributions. Speaking of not knowing, there's instruments in the credits I don't recognize: TrombaDoo, Big Boing mbira, Chromelodeon, as well as Harry Partch instruments such as Harmonic Canon and zoomoozophone. And I've just gotta get me a set of Cloud-Chamber Bowls.

Dadgummit, wife just denied my request using the "where would we put it?" excuse.

But I digress. Back to the album. People don't know what to make of it. In two neighboring reviews on Amazon, one buyer claims that this is "same old" while the very next review states this album "was nothing like he usually sings." Metacritic currently has it rated at 85, which doesn't surprise me because I bought this thing unheard based solely on good reviews and my affection for So Beautiful or So What. If you liked that 2011 album, I'll give ya good odds that you'll like this one, too. I did and I do.

Bonus points for Chuck Close album cover and the CD booklet, which includes track by track breakdown by Simon himself.

Peak on the US Billboard Top 200 chart: #3

Tracks: My current faves are The Werewolf, Wristband, The Riverbank, and the hilarious Cool Papa Bell. Skippable tracks include Stranger To Stranger and the interludes The Clock and In The Garden Of Edie.

Bonus tracks: 5 of 'em, including two live cuts from A Prairie Home Companion, two pieces that sound like unfinished demos, and a duet with Dion that sounds like a Springsteen b-side. If you didn't get the "Deluxe Edition" with these five tracks, don't sweat it.

Personal Memory Associated with this CD: None, although I'll admit I haven't given this album the proper amount of attention since its purchase.

Previously revisited for the blog:
So Beautiful or So What (2011)
Negotiations and Love Songs 1971-1986 (1988)
Rhythm of the Saints (1990)
Graceland (1986)
The Concert in Central Park (1982)
Still Crazy After All These Years (1975)

1 comment:

  1. I had maybe listened to this album twice in its entirety when it was released back in June and then cast it aside as the Summer came and went.

    Simon's poetry is in fine form though not a lot of the music grabbed me those first times around though we are in agreement on faves and skippables.

    I'm thinking despite its release in June, this might be a better listen now in the Autumn. Any thoughts on seasonal listening?

    I will say I have listened to Dion's New York Is My Home album a few times through and his latest incarnation as a blues man isn't half bad. (Good call on the Springsteen comparison though it is not indicative of the rest of the album.) Happily stumped my Blues Hall Of Fame inductee and blues aficionado brother-in-law by playing a few of the songs from the album and its predecessor, 2011's Tank Full Of Blues.

    "That DION?!?!"