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So Beautiful Or So What CD

70 customer reviews

Price: £7.75 & FREE Delivery in the UK on orders over £20. Details
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Music

Image of album by Paul Simon

Photos

Image of Paul Simon

Videos

An Introduction to Under African Skies

Biography

During his distinguished career Paul Simon has been the recipient of many honors and awards including 12 Grammy Awards, three of which ("Bridge Over Troubled Water", "Still Crazy After All These Years" and "Graceland") were albums of the year. In 2003 he was given a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award for his work as half of the duo Simon and Garfunkel. He is an ... Read more in Amazon's Paul Simon Store

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Frequently Bought Together

So Beautiful Or So What + Surprise + You're the One
Price For All Three: £24.71

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Product details

  • Audio CD (13 Jun. 2011)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Format: CD
  • Label: Decca
  • ASIN: B004LAIU4I
  • Other Editions: Audio CD  |  Vinyl  |  MP3 Download
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (70 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 18,583 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Listen to Samples and Buy MP3s

Songs from this album are available to purchase as MP3s. Click on "Buy MP3" or view the MP3 Album.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         

Samples
Song Title Time Price
  1. Getting Ready For Christmas Day 4:06£0.99  Buy MP3 
  2. The Afterlife 3:40£0.99  Buy MP3 
  3. Dazzling Blue 4:32£0.99  Buy MP3 
  4. Rewrite 3:49£0.99  Buy MP3 
  5. Love And Hard Times 4:09£0.99  Buy MP3 
  6. Love Is Eternal Sacred Light 4:02£0.99  Buy MP3 
  7. Amulet 1:36£0.99  Buy MP3 
  8. Questions For The Angels 3:49£0.99  Buy MP3 
  9. Love And Blessings 4:18£0.99  Buy MP3 
10. So Beautiful Or So What 4:08£0.99  Buy MP3 

Product Description

Product Description

12th studio album by the popular American singer-songwriter. The album has been very well received by critics and has been described by Simon himself as 'the best work I've done in 20 years'.

BBC Review

Whenever pop songwriters venture in search of profundity, they tend to overreach themselves, their lofty ambitions toppled by hubris and laughable pretention. Not so rock icon Paul Simon, who’s been writing astutely crafted songs, poetic, questioning and rich in meaning, for almost half a century; remarkably, his 12th solo studio album finds his gifts undimmed, even sharpened, by time.

There is a tendency among music critics to proclaim each new album from an elder statesperson as their best since (take your pick). But this must surely rank as one of Simon’s most affecting post-Garfunkel achievements.

Conceptually bound by the biggest themes of all – love, God, mortality, and our place in universe – this deceptively casual yet carefully focused collection never struggles under the weight of its ambition. Instead, Simon delivers these ruminative sermons with wit, warmth and wisdom. Despite virtually every song being haunted by notions of divinity and the attendant spectre of death, they’re realised with such shimmering lightness of touch that the overall effect is surprisingly life-affirming.

"Most folks they don’t get when I’m joking / But hopefully somebody will," he sings, in that conversational, ageless voice, on the almost free-associative Love Is Eternal Sacred Light, which somehow encompasses the origins of the universe, suicide bombers, and the exultant freedom of life on the open road. Now almost 70, it’s as if he has so much to say but with little time remaining (the album clocks in at just over 30 minutes, with not a moment wasted). In the same song he declares that love is "free from the shackles of time", while in the poignant Dazzling Blue he thanks God that he found his wife before it was too late.

When death does come knocking in The Afterlife, rather than bringing an end to earthly trials, it presents a bureaucratic chore where "you’ve got to fill out a form first, then you wait in the line." Even such deities as Buddha, Moses and Gene Vincent must endure this process: the ultimate joke.

Driven by Simon’s uniquely percussive acoustic guitar, and with his world music leanings embedded naturally rather than overtly, this beguiling album shows him to have lost none of his ability for finding universal truths within the guise of introspection. It’s a profound statement from a master of his craft.

--Paul Whitelaw

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Customer Reviews

4.1 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

24 of 25 people found the following review helpful By GlynLuke TOP 100 REVIEWER on 14 Oct. 2011
Format: Audio CD
This album is a welcome surprise from one of the finest songwriters of our time. Since the career-best Graceland, Paul Simon`s releases have either been uplifting and inspirational like Rhythm Of The Saints, slightly incoherent yet brilliant collections of songs such as the mostly superb You`re The One, or muddled near-misses like Surprise, his last rather misconceived effort. To call this a return to form is merely to speak the truth.
He sounds rejuvenated - at 70 already! - on a brief set of heartfelt songs on which his writing, singing and musical skills (he has always been a quietly virtuosic guitarist) are at their bright & shining best. At first I really didn`t like the cover, but looking at it closer one can see that it complements the esoteric yet generously compassionate, humane nature of the songs within.
The soundworld Paul creates here is both eclectic and spare, with instruments such as kora, tabla and glockenspiel adding subtle textures to the already beautifully crafted songs. There`s no dud song, nothing that goes on too long, no songs that don`t quite come off, and the whole thing is produced with the accent on clarity and a brightly warm immediacy.
To highlight one song: the opener, Getting Ready For Christmas Day, starts the whole thing off in glorious style, overlaying Paul`s vocal onto an old sermon recorded as long ago as 1941 by one Rev JM Gates, complete with scattered congregation calls & cries. It not only works, but is a burst of joyous ebullience that puts the listener in a very good place for the rest of this supremely listenable album.
I think this is, by a whisker, Paul Simon`s most wholly satisfying album since Graceland.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Marcia TOP 100 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 30 Aug. 2011
Format: Audio CD
Although this is not the strongest album by Paul Simon it is in fact very good. The songwriting is up to the usual standard and the music ideas not only work well but they are very interesting.
There are some great arrangements and the whole album is a solid contribution.
There are some good stand out tracks that act as highlights and it is also the sort of album that will mature over time. It needs many listening sessions to get to fully apreciate it.
Generally this album is a worthy and welcome recording from the great Paul Simon. This album does not have the striking originality of the likes of the Graceland album but it doesnt matter. It does however have some strong original songs with a familiar Paul Simon style.
This is one of those albums that in the future we may look back at and see it as a classic. I would compare it to "Hearts and Bones" in terms of its strength and solid quality. And like Hearts and Bones I doubt it has enough commercial potential to have many hit single releases in todays pop climate.
This is a great album and will appeal to anyone that likes Paul Simon.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By ViridianCity on 6 Jun. 2012
Format: Audio CD
"Getting Ready for Christmas" is a strange mix of Paul Simon with a sermon in the background, though it is upbeat and strangely likeable. "The Afterlife" has a good beat and a comic message. "Dazzling Blue" would not be out of place on his 'Gracel'and album. "Rewrite" and "Love and Hard Times" are quite retrospective / introspective but should be appreciated for their musical intricacies and melodies. "Love Is Eternal Sacred Light" is quite upbeat. Track 7 ("Amulet") is a forgettable minute-long guitar piece. "Questions for the Angels" and "Love and Blessings" are are also quite beautiful and have a nostalgic feel to them. "So Beautiful or So What" has a good pace.

'So Beautiful or So What' was strange to listen to at first, and I initially was disappointed with what I heard. However, after several hearings I have started to appreciate this album for what it is. Being a fan of albums such as `Graceland' and `There Goes Rhymin' Simon', I primarily found this album a bit dreary. It is true to say that this is a slower paced album, and it does not pack the punch of some of Simon's earlier work.

The music draws you in and I now feel myself wishing tunes such as "Love and Blessings" were longer. Simon samples a variety of musical styles, which does give the album a feel of being a `taster' album, but this is still a well-crafted work. The main complaint has to be that this album is a bit on the short side.

Yet after several hearings, I am really starting to like it. The songs are inventive in a typical Simon style, often changing pace and with original instrumental effects which make these songs more than just songs. Much attention has been given to the music, and it is often the musical accompaniment which makes the songs stand out.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Mr. Dc Fowler VINE VOICE on 8 July 2011
Format: Audio CD
The themes that drove many of Paul Simon's previous songs are represented here: the working man, love, religion, humanity in general and so on always presented to make the listener think (whether that is PS's intention I do not know). Someone gave this two stars because it was un-inspirational and boring. I do not agree. It is true that PS's delivery is not as emotionally overcooked as some but it never has been. The message, if there is one, is in the words and structure of each song. That is not to say that this album is clinical or cold. Quite the opposite. There is passion and wit in abundance and perhaps a certain ennui for the passing of time - a recognition of mortality. The latter is presented beautifully and wittily on the track 'The Afterlife'. PS often uses metaphor to convey two or more meanings in his songs which is perhaps one of the reasons that they and he have stood the test of time, plus of course the small matter of dozens of unforgettable tunes. Another reviewer compared PS to Bob Dylan. I think that perhaps that is comparing oranges and apples but I share the sentiment. Both are masters at conveying the human condition, Dylan more generally, Paul Simon more particularly perhaps.

Anyway, in my opinion this album is as good as any he has done. I forgot to say that of course the production and arrangements are superb.
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