Most people of my age have grown up with Paul Simon: since S&G came to an end in 1971, he's only released a handful of albums, but each one has been meticulously crafted: the writing, arrangements and playing have all benefited from his careful attention (he once commented, not entirely jokingly, "For me to record an album in less than eighteen months is lightning"). The lengthy interval between the appearance of each record means that each one is firmly associated with a different time in the lives of his listeners. For me, "Hearts And Bones" is the best.
Although it's underrated by most critics, there are treasures here to be uncovered: the imaginative arrangements (e.g. Al di Meola playing the scorching guitar solo on the first track), the intelligent writing (listen to "Cars Are Cars" to see how he switches back and forth between the flippant and the heartfelt), and the naked emotion in his singing and writing. This latter quality is evident throughout the record (created during the breakup of his second marriage), but my favourite moment is in the middle of "Think Too Much", when he sings "They say the left side of the brain / It dominates the right. / And the right side has to labour through / the long and speechless night". The overall effect of the image, the singing and the arrangement make this so sad and regretful that it's rare that I can listen to it without tearing up. A masterpiece, all-round.
on 8 March 2005
I won't bang on about the great songwriting, superb arrangements and top-notch playing on this album (other than to say that Hearts and Bones must be one of THE great songs of popular music)- other reviews have eulogised this underrated album already. What I will say is that this remastering of the original is simply fantastic. The sound is pinsharp, the definition of the instruments perfect. I have been repeatedly spellbound by the sonic quality of this album, enhancing an already great work. I keep having to stop what I'm doing and sit on the floor where the stereo effect of my speakers converges and marvel at the beauty and clarity of the music.
I am a bit sad? No, I'm ecstatically happy with this record!
on 20 April 2012
Criminally underrated by critics and listeners alike on its 1983 release, 'Hearts and Bones' has since begun to receive some of the recognition this wonderful album deserves. The album is varied and eclectic, from the bittersweet ballad 'Rene And Georgette Magritte with Their Dog after the War', to the danceable rock of 'Cars Are Cars', and the saddened philosophical musings of songs such as 'Think Too Much (b)' and 'Train in the Distance'. Simon handles all of these styles masterfully. The album is also vocally and lyrically one of his best; as well as showing the first signs of the segue into the 'world' styles of 'Graceland' and 'Rhythm of the Saints', with the catchy tribal drums of the album's title track. In contrast to both the preceding album 'Still Crazy After All These Years', and the following release, 'Graceland', this is a very introspective, often downbeat work. The album's sadness is beautifully understated, poignant and relatable. But those expecting the jauntiness of certain other Paul Simon releases, will find it in fairly short supply here.
It is hard to imagine why such an moving and excellently performed album as 'Hearts and Bones' was met with a lukewarm response up its release; but here it has been given the modern treatment it deserves. This remastered edition sounds sharper and clearer, strengthening the album's slower, more melancholy tunes, in particular. Four extra recordings are included, of which the original acoustic demo of 'Rene and Georgette...' is the highlight, but all four additional tracks are of good quality, and will particularly interest those wanting to understand the creative process and changes of some of Simon's best songs. As for criticisms, I don't really have any. The album is fantastic, this remastered edition makes it sound better than ever before, and even the bonus tracks are all worth numerous plays.
on 22 December 2006
Paul Simon rarely turns in a dud because of the strength of his songwriting. Here is a key example. Some rather dated 1980s production cannot undermine the strength of the songs.
The title track is a beautiful, thoughtful track and "Train In The Distance" is a fine song, up there with some of his best. "Rene And Georgette Magritte..." is moving and remeniscent of New York doo-wop from the late 1950s. "The Late Great Johnny Ace" is chilling in some ways but also rather compelling.
A worthy example of the fact that very good albums but excellent artists do not always sell.
on 12 September 2012
This album was the least commercially successful of Paul Simon's output, but it's my favourite. I have the vinyl copy, and bought the download so that I could listen to it on my MP3 player.
The sound quality, digitally remastered, is superb, and serves to remind one how carefully constructed in sound production terms Paul Simon albums tend to be. Even the original vinyl produces a clear, crisp sound.
The songs themselves, chronicling the breakdown of Simon's second marriage, are even more incisive than his usual ones. They cut to the bone, and expose his inner pain in a way which I don't think he has ever surpassed.
I don't intend to produce a track-by-track review; buy it for yourself. I don't think you'll be disappointed.
on 18 October 2011
This is one of Paul Simon's best albums, yet is usually passed over in any discussion of his career as the one before Graceland that wasn't very good. In fact it's a lovely album, and a haunting emotional one. I hope it gets more recognition and people hear how good it is.
on 10 December 2004
A very much clearer mix than the original CD. Definitely worth the money. The 4 bonus tracks are much more interesting than the usual filler that should have been left on the studio floor as is the case with most reissues. This is the one to buy!
on 2 June 2011
Have been a fan of this man for forty years or more and this is the CD that I reach for every time I want to be reminded of how good he is. When you consider the general quality of everything else he's ever done this album is remarkable.
Songs like the title track, 'Train in the distance' and 'Rene and Georgette Magritte' are the most gorgeous, lyrical things you could ever wish to gear. Why was this never a huge hit and why does the man himself have so little good to say about it? One of life's mysteries, I guess, but many of his fans have missed out on an absolute classic. It's coming to my desert island, I can tell you.
on 9 April 2010
This is a definite masterpiece, my favourite Paul Simon album and in my opinion one of the 20 best albums of the 20th century. This reissue improves the original sound and includes some very beautiful acoustic versions of Rene and Georgia Magritte and Train in the distance.
on 12 September 2008
All I have to say is, that this is an utterly brilliant album - imo the best thing Mr Simon ever did - this will eat into your heart and bones and never let go.