A few years ago, I reviewed COLLECTED WORKS, which at the time was the only comprehensive collection of Simon and Garfunkel's work (on 3 CDs). This is better. Much better.
One complaint, though, just to get it out of the way. I love the fact that the discs have the original label design on them, but BRIDGE OVER TROUBLED WATER was also released on the same label as the others in its first edition (I own two such vinyl copies). That aside, onward and upward.
The music is what is important here. And it is given the royal treatment, beginning with WEDNESDAY MORNING, 3AM, a very good, if somewhat unassuming effort of basic folk arrangements. There are some standout tracks, indeed. "Sparrow", "Sounds of Silence", and the title track are among my personal favorites, but the rest of the album will not disappoint.
With 1966's SOUNDS OF SILENCE, the duo opted for a more folk-rock approach, which has been impuned for its commercial value. Commercial does not mean bad. The Beatles were, after all, the most commercial music group of all time. No one seems to mind. Neither should they here. "Leaves That Are Green", "Blessed", "Somewhere They Can't Find Me", "A Most Peculiar Man", and "I Am a Rock" never cease to captivate me. They were well on their way with this one.
Also in 1966, the duo released PARSLEY, SAGE, ROSEMARY, AND THYME. Let the opening title track work it's melodic and contropunal magic on you--it is hauntingly beautiful. PATTERNS is also first rate. In fact, very little on this record is not.
BOOKENDS (1968) is, I must admit not my favorite of their collections--just a bit pretentious. Still has "Hazy Shade of Winter" and "Mrs. Robinson", though, so it is not to be missed.
Finally 1970's BRIDGE OVER TROUBLED WATER carried us to the brink of Simon's impending solo career. But songs like "The Boxer", "Cecilia", and "Keep the Customer Satisfied" are strong indeed.
The way the albums are released and presented here, with that one exception of the label on BRIDGE.
Even if you own COLLECTED WORKS, get this. You will be satisfied.
If you want an interesting presentation and better sound quality from their recordings, look here. I promise.