Review Summary: The only thing dated about this are the two guys on the front cover.'When Paul and I were first friends, starting in the sixth grade and seventh grade, we would sing a little together and we would make up radio shows and become disc jockeys on our home wire recorder. And then came rock and roll. ~ Art Garfunkel
Paul Simon and Arthur Garfunkel had been friends since childhood – they were already performing songs as a duo in high school, named Tom and Jerry. Rooted in folk rock, they got their first real taste of success with the folk anthem Sounds of Silence
, and the rest is history. Their relationship was often unstable, leading to their eventual breakup, but they left behind a collection of five great LP’s, topped with their greatest artistic achievement Bridge Over Troubled Water
, released on the brink of the new decade. Two years later, it was most logically a time for a greatest hits album.
And it was pretty much perfect.
There’s nearly always something to complain about when it comes to compilations: they’re not comprehensive enough, they don’t include the right songs, and so on. This is where Simon & Garfunkel’s Greatest Hits
is a rare achievement – the collection offered here is absolutely flawless. Not only is it a perfect introduction for those who’ve only heard a single or two, neither does it skip any essentials. Conveniently, Simon and Garfunkel’s greatest hits are also their greatest songs.
Sounds of Silence
may have been their first hit, but they really broke through with Mrs. Robinson
and its appearance, along with several more of their songs, on the 1967 film The Graduate
. As such, its position as opener is fitting, opening up immediate recognisability and appreciation for what’s to follow. The track selection is nicely balanced out, featuring three or four songs from every album. This does not include Wednesday Morning, 3 A.M.
, which, although it was a lovely debut, didn’t quite hit the same stride as their other four records yet.
We move through the beautiful storytelling of The Boxer
, the dramatic but astounding delivery of Bridge Over Troubled Water
, the sad hopefulness of America
, experiments with instrumentation in El Condor Pasa (If I Could)
, and the more eclectic sound of Cecilia
. These are some of Simon & Garfunkel’s more artistic highs, but at heart, they will always remain that dynamic duo with the warm guitar sound and gorgeous vocal melodies, as is evidenced throughout the major portion of this album. The best-known songs out of this group are of course Sounds of Silence
, I Am a Rock
and Scarborough Fair
, but it is the four live versions of their more understated material that offers something extra for the more-than-casual fan. Not only do these cuts capture the warmth of their live performances, a rare feat in itself, they’re also all an improvement over the originals. For Emily
, The 59th Street Bridge Song
, Homeward Bound
and Kathy’s Song
simply come to life, rendering the studio versions far inferior.
If you’ve never understood why Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel are together hailed as musical legends, here’s your proof: fourteen quintessential, timeless 60’s pop songs. Not often has a greatest hits album been so comprehensive, representative, and yet concise. If you’ve never bothered with any of their LP’s, get this. And unless the devil be possessing you, you will love it. That is a promise.