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4.7 out of 5 stars63
4.7 out of 5 stars
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on 20 March 2001
This is the most sophisticated album by one of the greatest singer/songwriters of all time. The title says it all; Brazilian and West African drumming is at the core with all manner of exotic instruments making the listener feel as if they are in the heart of the jungle. The singing is understated on a number of tracks, it is spot on and Simon makes remarkable use of his voice. Ranging from an almost talking blues style (Can't Run But) to soothing high pitched tones (Born at the Right Time) and powerful rock like vocals (Obvious Child). This all works remarkably well against the South American/African beat and makes for some of the most original sounding material in mainstream music. The complex lyrics and subtle music mean 'Rythm' is not as accesible as 'Graceland' or 'Your'e the One'. At first, you really have to listen for the drums on some of the tracks and some of the songs will never make complete sense to anyone but Paul Simon as they are not told in a linear fashion. But this is still instantly recognisable as a Paul Simon album. It might take a few listens before you get it, but this album is definatley worth it! The songs are beutiful, as are the lyrics, and the nature of the album means you find something new every time you listen.
Sit back, relax and take in some great music.
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on 30 March 2009
Believe it or not, this album received mixed reviews, creating a bizarre Pro-Graceland(+ Anti-'Saints'...) vs. Pro-Saints 'Which is better?' war that continues to this day. So naturally I am always incensed when I discover yet another listener who fails to 'get' the sheer genius that frankly saturates this album. The South American rhythms are infectious. Having heard (and of course loved) Graceland before buying this one, after about 3 listens it'd clicked - I now consider 'Saints' to be the winner by a nose.

The chorus of She Moves On, for example, although essentially very different in style, is melodically a clear match for the beautiful 'Under African Skies' on Graceland. The layering of xylophones (or some similar percussion instrument!) in Can't Run But, I distinctly remember finding breathtaking on my first listen, and it still never fails to impress. (A song that leaves you sort of mesmerized when it's finished, like you've just woken up from a strange dream.) Spirit Voices - frankly left me speechless, and that's not even mentioning the empowering optimism of tracks like Thelma, The Obvious Child, Born At The Right Time, and Cool, Cool River (see Paul Simon's Concert In The Park for the best versions of these latter 2).

Lyrically, Simon is stronger than ever. There's simply not enough space to quote all the gems here, but one particular favorite of mine: "I watch you sleeping in the hospital bed / The baby curled up in a ball / Winter sunlight hits the family tree / And everything else becomes nothing at all." [Thelma]
Four lines is apparently all Mr. Simon needs to describe the indescribable sense of awe and perspective one feels after the birth of their first child! I'm not the sentimental type, but this one struck a chord with me.

And of course:
"Down by the riverbank / A blues band arrives / The music suffers / The music business thrives" [Can't Run But]
The album is littered with lyrical gems throughout (Cool Cool River also springs to mind just off the top of my head), but as with all great music, these are undoubtedly much better heard in their intended context than simply read.

In terms of the rhythm and instrumentation, it's overflowing with delicate complexities, many of the tracks strike that extremely rare balance of being potentially either drifted off to or scrutinously analysed by music scholars for years to come.

This is not for the generic 'throwaway' listener; it's a record that rewards commitment. 3 or more play-throughs whilst doing something significant (for me it was my summer paper route when I was 15! A vacation drive'll do just fine though ;) to really take in all that is going on here, and ultimately find a fitting backdrop for what is definitely music for the open air.

Rhythm Of The Saints may have missed out on the 'popular' vote, but it's an invaluable triumph for the exploration of music and artistic integrity. Arguably the best £11 I ever spent and it's enriched my life [repeatedly] ever since. Think of the perfect summer album, then go beyond that. This is it.
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Paul Simon followed up the classic Graceland, his fusion of African and Western pop music with this stunning album of great songs with a South American and more particularly Brazilian flavour. This reissue includes three previously unreleased racks.
The Obvious Child is my favorite, a powerful melodic song with great drums and guitars and a wistful, nostalgic feel. Another favorite is The Coast, a story about a family of musicians taking shelter in a church; this song really impresses with its flowing melody, polyrhythmic drum patterns and moving lyrics.
Proof is another charming pop song, particularly noted for its evocative backing vocals and gentle, lilting rhythm whilst Further To Fly and She Moves On are more subdued, melancholy numbers with bubbling and insistent rhythmic patterns.
The mood lifts with the uptempo and buoyant Born At The Right Time, once again a lyrical and musical masterpiece and filled with catchy hooks. The guitar and atmospheric backing voices of Spirit Voices are beyond compare whilst the title track is a meandering piece with innovative instrumental flourishes.
What makes these songs particularly moving is that Simon tells the stories of ordinary people and that his perceptive, poetic lyrics are carried so well on the exotic instrumentation. Of course, the beautiful tunes have a lot to do with that. Rhythm Of The Saints may not be as immediately appealing as Graceland and may not offer quite as many classics, but it remains a major achievement, a brilliant marriage of Brazilian and Western popular musical styles.
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on 4 January 2007
1990's "Rhythm Of The Saints" is a beauty. It shimmers and shines, swoops and glides with grace.

Subtler in many ways than much of "Graceland", much of the music and sound here is beguiling and the lyrics are crafted with great intelligence and style.

The opening of "The Obvious Child" is intoxicating, and the wistful, thoughtful lyrics are enticing.

The somewhat monotone "Can't Run But" catches you eventually and "The Coast" is melodic and sweet. "Further To Fly" is a subtle but charming spiralling document.

These are all excellent but the peaks truly arrive on "Spirit Voices" and "The Cool, Cool River." The former is a beautiful, lilting tune with poetic lyrics and the latter is a stunning peice of introspection and ultimately defiance which soars to an impressive conclusion.

"Born At The Right Time" is the most recognisable form here and it works very well.

A stunning album documenting excellent songwriting and stunning musicianship.

This is what music should do: excite, inspire, provoke thought and wonder.
11 comment|18 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on 25 August 2010
Though well received upon release by fans and critiics, Paul Simon's 'Rhythm of the Saints' was however, not subject to the same adoration with which the media had greeted his previous effort 'Graceland', which mixed Simon's impressionistic, wordy lyricism with the beats and rhythms of South African music. 'Rhythm of the Saints' picks up where it's predecessor left off, and is, in my personal opinion, equally fantastic. Though more low-key and downbeat than the Jubilant rhythms of Graceland, 'Rhythm of the Saints' beautiful blend of Simon's earnest songcraft, the percussionised-samba melodies of the Brazil where the album was recorded, and a continuation of the traditional African sounds he had used for 'Graceland', the album is one of quiet beauty, and a real 'grower' on the listener, with quite a few tracks unveiling their subtle superbness over a few listens.

From the catchy, samba-heavy opening track (and lead single) 'The Obvious Child', it's clear that Simon is in his element. The album continues its impressive fusion of styles with the claustrophobic, but hypnotic 'Can't Run But', and the mournful and beautiful, but somewhat ironic 'The Coast'. Though one would be hard pressed to find a bad track on the rest of the album, there are a few real standouts - the politicised, idealistic 'The Cool, Cool River' and the gorgeous melody and bittersweet messages of 'Born at the Right Time', Simon has created two of his most impressive and idiosynchratic tracks. Occasionally, the album lacks quite the bounce of 'Graceland', or the surge of energy which much of Simon's music has, but for the most part, 'Rhythm of the Saints' is a truly superb and inspiring record. Sadly forgotten somewhat, in the shadow of its commercially successful precedent, this is a delightful, thought provoking and multi-stylistic album which showcases some of Simon's most expansive lyricy and music. Genuinely superb.
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on 5 October 2000
As a singer / songwriter, Paul Simon ranks as one of the greatest ever - with classic albums all through his career. The Rhythm of the Saints is just one more addition to a brilliant collection of work, with songs which are both deeply beautiful and thought provoking. The music itself continues from the African roots of Graceland to West Africa and from there to South America. The guitar parts are intricate and identifiably African, the rhythms of Olodum and others are unmistakeably South American - working together to produce something quite original for a mainstream album. Simon, an artist known for producing lyrics of exceptional originality and intelligence has exceeded all his previous work and managed to produce some unforgettable lines. An outstanding album in every way - and one which gets better with every listen - this should really be a part of anyone's collection.
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Paul Simon followed up the classic Graceland, his fusion of African and Western pop music with this stunning album of great songs with a South American and more particularly Brazilian flavour.
The Obvious Child is my favourite, a powerful melodic song with great drums and guitars and a wistful, nostalgic feel. Another favourite is The Coast, a story about a family of musicians taking shelter in a church; this song really impresses with its flowing melody, polyrhythmic drum patterns and moving lyrics.
Proof is another charming pop song, particularly noted for its evocative backing vocals and gentle, lilting rhythm whilst Further To Fly and She Moves On are more subdued, melancholy numbers with bubbling and insistent rhythmic patterns.
The mood lifts with the uptempo and buoyant Born At The Right Time, once again a lyrical and musical masterpiece and filled with catchy hooks. The guitar and atmospheric backing voices of Spirit Voices are beyond compare and the title track is a meandering piece with innovative instrumental flourishes.
What makes these songs particularly moving is that Simon tells the stories of ordinary people and that his perceptive, poetic lyrics are carried so well on the exotic instrumentation. Of course, the beautiful tunes have a lot to do with that. Rhythm Of The Saints may not be as immediately appealing as Graceland and may not offer quite as many classics, but it remains a major achievement, a brilliant marriage of Brazilian and Western popular musical styles.
0Comment|3 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on 30 March 2009
Believe it or not, this album received mixed reviews, creating a bizarre Pro-Graceland(+ Anti-Rhythm...) vs. Pro-Rhythm Of The Saints 'Which is better?' war that continues to this day. So naturally I am always incensed when I discover yet another listener who fails to 'get' the sheer genius that frankly saturates this album. The South American rhythms are infectious. Having heard (and of course loved) Graceland before buying this one, after about 3 listens it'd clicked - I now consider 'Rhythm' to be the winner by a nose.

The chorus of She Moves On, for example, although essentially very different in style, is melodically a clear match for the beautiful 'Under African Skies' on Graceland. The layering of xylophones (or some similar percussion instrument!) in Can't Run But, I distinctly remember finding breathtaking on my first listen, and it still never fails to impress. (A song that leaves you sort of mesmerized when it's finished, like you've just woken up from a strange dream.) Spirit Voices - frankly left me speechless, and that's not even mentioning the empowering optimism of tracks like Thelma, The Obvious Child, Born At The Right Time, and Cool, Cool River (see Paul Simon's Concert In The Park for the best versions of these latter 2).

Lyrically, Simon is stronger than ever. There's simply not enough space to quote all the gems here, but one particular favorite of mine: "I watch you sleeping in the hospital bed / The baby curled up in a ball / Winter sunlight hits the family tree / And everything else becomes nothing at all." [Thelma]
Four lines is apparently all Mr. Simon needs to describe the indescribable sense of awe and perspective one feels after the birth of their first child! I'm not the sentimental type, but this one struck a chord with me.

And of course:
"Down by the riverbank / A blues band arrives / The music suffers / The music business thrives" [Can't Run But]
The album is littered with lyrical gems throughout (Cool Cool River also springs to mind just off the top of my head), but as with all great music, these are undoubtedly much better heard in their intended context than simply read.

In terms of the rhythm and instrumentation, it's overflowing with delicate complexities, many of the tracks strike that extremely rare balance of being potentially either drifted off to or scrutinously analysed by music scholars for years to come.

This is not for the generic 'throwaway' listener; it's a record that rewards commitment. 3 or more play-throughs whilst doing something significant (for me it was my summer paper route when I was 15! A vacation drive'll do just fine though ;) to really take in all that is going on here, and ultimately find a fitting backdrop for what is definitely music for the open air.

Rhythm Of The Saints may have missed out on the 'popular' vote, but it's an invaluable triumph for the exploration of music and artistic integrity. Arguably the best £11 I ever spent and it's enriched my life [repeatedly] ever since. Think of the perfect summer album, then go beyond that. This is it.
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on 7 October 2008
Just to echo the previous three reviews - this is a beautiful, beautiful album - the best by Paul Simon ? - probably. Sheer poetry set to subtle, complex but ultimately addictive melodies played with stunning musian-ship - utter bliss. At the moment, my favourite PS work next to Hearts and Bones.
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on 23 February 2011
A phenomenal achievement: superb musicianship and songcraft, empathetic and graceful - the sound of an artist letting the countries he's visiting get under his skin. Not as immediately accessible as Graceland, and somewhat coldly-received at the time if memory serves (not enough choruses I guess), but at least its equal if not better. Very possibly his best work (I think), and from the writer of 'Bridge Over Troubled Waters' (him, not me unfortunately!), that's really saying something.
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