271 of 280 people found the following review helpful
on 18 January 2007
When this album was originally released it very quickly became a classic. The fusion of African tribal and Western soft rock music works, and works well.
Unfortunately - and these comments apply solely to this remaster - the sound quality has suffered as a result of the current arms race between record labels to make their CDs as loud as possible. Whereas on the original CD release the opening track "The Boy In The Bubble" began with a soft accordian solo followed by a series of drum hits that sounded like firecrackers (and scared the life out of anyone that wasn't expecting it), here all the dynamics of this are lost in a muddy compressed version of what was once a great album.
Many other classic albums have been destroyed like this by record labels. Do yourself a favour and track down the original 1986 CD of this album on Marketplace.
For the record the original 1986 version of this is unquestionably a 5-star album.
60 of 62 people found the following review helpful
on 4 March 2008
I totally agree with Glen Richards. I have the original vinyl and CD so I bought this version as a re-mastered paper sleeve Japanese Mini LP(vinyl replica) thinking it would be an upgrade. The hiss level is overpowering on a good hi-fi system. You might as well play it as an MP3 recording. Very disappointing. Do yourself a favour, however, and try the "MINI LP/Vinyl Replica" remastered versions of "One Trick Pony", "Rhymin Simon", "Paul Simon", or "Still Crazy After All These Years". This is how it should be done.
52 of 55 people found the following review helpful
This Grammy Award-winning album from 1986 is usually considered to be Paul Simon's crowning achievement in a stellar career with many high-points. His peerless songwriting and poignant lyrics are fused with intelligent use of folk and brass instruments: Zulu Mbaqanga rhythms, the Ladysmith Black Mambazo choir showcasing their a capella style, plus the Zydeco creole music of Louisiana; the Everly Brothers, Linda Ronstadt and Los Lobos also feature in cameo performances. It's absolutely gorgeous and hasn't aged a day in 26 years.
The album works best when listened to as a whole experience, rather than sampled track by downloaded track - like having a full meal rather than just eating the beans one day, and the sauce on another occasion. Only when the whole is savoured and digested can the extraordinary blend of complimentary musical styles be appreciated, and the grand creation be enjoyed and fully understood.
Now the 1986 CD release was in every way superb, containing a dynamic range allowing for the subtleties of the unusual instrumentation and vocal combinations to shine, with plenty of light and shade. The 2004 `re-mastered' CD was overall `louder' than the earlier mix, lacked the depth and contrast of the original and was definitely not an improvement. Unfortunately this `25th anniversary remaster' (actually the 26th anniversary, not the 25th) CD is, if possible, even worse. It's another victim of the `loudness war' destroying the subtleties of thoughtful and complex music by compressing the dynamic range, resulting in little difference between loud and quiet sections, diminishing its emotional power and - compared to the 1986 original - making it a tiring experience for the listener. The dynamic range is so reduced by compression and clipping that the result is just loud: as with dance music, it's like being shouted at all the time. Greg Calbi, the engineer, has short-changed genuine music fans and diminished Paul Simon's masterpiece to a result that's just, well - DULL in comparison to what it should be.
Best advice is to stick to the 1986 CD release, if you can get a good copy. It's the real deal.
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on 11 July 2012
The package is great - beautifully presented, great DVD with docs and music videos - all of that is great.
So why remaster the album?... Again. Its not an improvement on the previous CD release. In fact it doesn't sound as good - just louder and harsher. As a recording artist myself, I am aware of the benefits of "cleaning" up older recordings and making use of newer technology to achieve a more transparent sound. This isn't the case here, though. My CD of Graceland from a few years back sounds much better - there is more depth to the production - more detail. The new version sounds very "tense" and too lou, - I guess to satisfy audiences listening on equipment with no bass and top end where older recordings can sound a bit dull and under energized. Its a shame.
However, the package is worth the money for the DVD and the unreleased tracks. I'll just stick with my previous CD for listening to the album.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
This is a landmark album and, for me, the high spot of Paul Simon's solo career. He was increasingly interested in introducing different rhythms to his work, and the collaboration here with the musicians of South Africa makes for complex but brilliant recordings.
The outcome was a unique record that is being bought and re-bought 25 years later (I have just acquired this version). Stand out tracks? It's difficult to say that any are weak but 'The Boy In The Bubble', 'Graceland', 'Diamonds On The Soles Of Her Shoes' and 'You Can Call Me Al' are especially strong.
When I listen to this record it makes me think how far Paul Simon had travelled since the ending of his partnership with Art Garfunkel. Personality differences aside, he was moving in new directions, and more Simon and Garfunkel records would not have taken him there.
This is a unique record - a fusion of styles not put together with such success before, if at all. Recommended. Five stars.
43 of 46 people found the following review helpful
on 15 June 2012
Although this was the third reincarnation of this album that I've bought ( I know what you're thinking,sucker!)', this is definately the best. Sound quality is much improved over the last 'remastered' offering. Why couldn't they have gotten it right the first time? The bonus tracks are also worth the inclusion, especially the insrumental demo of 'Crazy Love'. Love the sound of the guitaring. If you love the music of Paul Simon, and especially this album, then upgrading to this copy is a must!!
16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
It's quite baffling how studios get away with it in this day and age, yet the persistent efforts to make their albums as loud as is iPod-inducingling possible is frustrating, short changing even.
I need not mention that Graceland is a classic album, because it helped catalyse a faux-world music genre during the 1980's and, in the process, sought to take advantage of the new CD format. As such the original album is mixed beautifully, featuring production techniques that truly test the listeners dynamic range. The end result is an album that never tires; it sounds just as fresh today as what it did years ago.
This is partly the reason why it has been given a '25th Anniversary Edition' release, in order to celebrate its continued appeal. What a massive pity then that Warner Bros. decided to, quite literally, compress the music to death in order to make the recordings louder than they originally were, and in doing so, have squashed those legendary dynamics.
When comparing this release to the original CD from 1984, the results are baffling. Percussion instruments that were once audible are now a feint (or hollow) noise in the background, while the sounds around it are just a mash with little separation. 'I Know What I Know' and 'Gumboots' are the two biggest culprits, with the guitars less prominent in the mix and more subdued, thus making the songs sound less complex. Melodically they are still obvious, but the rhythm is completely altered.
'The Boy in the Bubble' has already been mentioned by another reviewer - the very first 'tom' strike about 8 seconds into the song was almost startling on the original album release as it was so much louder than the accordion. Yet in this edition, it is quite literally the same volume as the accordion before it...
What the hell?
The truth of the matter is that studios subject older albums to this kind of treatment because customers today are perceived as wanting everything loud. Digital mastering allows more control over how loud the final product is, and in order to retain the same volume between releases, old analogue masters such as this need cranking up. Obviously we're all too lazy to just, you know, 'turn up' the volume.
I have no doubt that some will read this review as being pedantic, but comparing the '84 release to this abomination is like night and day, and only serves to demonstrate how compression alters the original creative design. It will allow you to get a feel for what Graceland entails, but please, if you do decide that the album is a keeper, then get the original release and hear for yourself just how lush the recordings are.
54 of 58 people found the following review helpful
As I listened to this re-mastered version of Paul Simon's classic `Graceland' CD I wondered how much better it would be than the original. It wasn't. Indeed it wasn't as good. Haunting softness and melodious depth had been usurped by what seemed crisper and louder - but the original was heard via the heart as well as the ear. The re-mastered version is still a great CD but it somehow lacks soul. Hence the drop from 5 to 4-star rating.
29 of 31 people found the following review helpful
This is an amazing and exclusive two disc set featuring the remastered original album with five bonus tracks and audio documentary.
Also contains "Under African Skies" film with bonus features.
Three original music videos and "Saturday Night Live" performance of "Diamonds on the Soles of Her Shoes."
Its a must for for music lovers considering the original Graceland Album sold 14 million copies worlwide and won a Grammy in 1987
In the film, Simon provides a fresh and revelatory perspective on the album while gathering the record's original musicians for a transcendental Graceland concert reunion.
15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
on 8 June 2012
I remember hearing "Diamonds on the soles of her shoes", and instantly been won over by Simon's lyrics-although been largely unaware of the career of Simon (and only marginally aware) of the political mess he had created for himself with 'Graceland', and at the time I was only aware of Apartheid (mainly through the News).
The music of Graceland is (still) unsurpased by Paul Simon, and the "Under African Skies" goes some-way to address the ANC and reactions to a rich, white man coming to Africa durig the lengthy period of Apartheid, although only quarter of a century ago-seems like another world:
1. The Boy In The Bubble
3. I Know What I Know
5. Diamonds On The Soles Of Her Shoes
6. You Can Call Me Al
7. Under African Skies
9. Crazy Love, Vol II
10. That Was Your Mother
11. All Around The World Or The Myth Of Fingerprints
12. Homeless (Demo)
13. Diamond on the Soles of Her Shoes (Alternate version)
14. All Around the World or The Myth of Fingerprints (Early version)
15. You Can Call Me Al (Demo)
16. Crazy Love (Demo)
17. The Story of "Graceland" - as told by Paul Simon
The Album speaks for itself. As for 'Under African Skies'--Paul Simon returning to Africa is both moving & insightful--Simon still appears genuinely irritated by politicians (whom are quick to make mileage out of him, but also use him at Political functions).
There is also a clear love and respect between Simon and the other Musicians-whom Simon credits fully (not for the first time either)with the collaboration that resulted in Graceland.
Both the Album and cd are really good value at present £10.49, I'd like the £80 set next...