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So Beautiful or So What Deluxe Edition

4.2 out of 5 stars 77 customer reviews

Price: £4.41
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Product details

  • Audio CD (11 April 2011)
  • Number of Discs: 2
  • Format: Deluxe Edition
  • Label: Decca (UMO)
  • Other Editions: Audio CD  |  Vinyl  |  MP3 Download
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (77 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 48,768 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Track Listings

Disc: 1

  1. The Making Of So Beautiful Or So What - Paul Simon
  2. Getting Ready For Christmas Day - Paul Simon
  3. So Beautiful Or So What (Live Rehearsal) - Paul Simon

Product Description

Product Description

titolo-so beautiful or so what- (deluxe edition)artista-paul simon etichetta-concord-n. dischi2data-12 aprile 2011supporto-cd audio+dvd videogenere-pop e rock

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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--This text refers to an alternate Audio CD edition.

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By KaleHawkwood 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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Format: Audio CD
Paul Simon is a musical institution. I personally rate him as important to American music as Bob Dylan. One of his strengths is his gift of lyricism. Another is that he was always well ahead of the game in weaving the rhythms, instruments and voices of world music into Western popular music. His judgement in using the best of African sounds was to the fore in 'Graceland' and 'The Rhythm Of The Saints'. He develops this further with this excellent album. 'Rewrite' particularly echoes the work of the late Ali Farka Touré. But this album is a smorgasbord of wonderful music and is surely the best album Paul Simon has delivered for years. He is a seasoned musician and is still able to give us something so fresh and vibrant. 'Love and Hard Times' is one of those wonderful Paul Simon songs that draws you into a story and takes you along for the ride. 'Love Is Eternal Sacred Light' pounds away and is infectious, wonderful music. 'Amulet' is a melancholic acoustic guitar instrumental. 'Questions For The Angels' is a discursive ballad that queries life in general and Simon muses gently as it drifts along. The title track track is a swampy groove-fest with shimmering guitar and an arrangement to die for. There is so much to enjoy here. Paul Simon's voice is still crystalline and unique. His songwriting remains a revelation. He has always been a fascinating listen and this album delivers big time. Buy it - you'll love it!
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Format: Audio CD
Paul Simon's Graceland has a place in the history of popular music whose genius is almost unquestioned. Its originality at the time and subsequent influence are beyond doubt, but it is a frequently irritating listen; an insipid distillation of African rhythms, form over substance, style over content. The Rhythm of the Saints was by far a happier experiment in what became known as crossover World Music, and to a large extent So Beautiful Or So What represents a third bite of a similar cherry. This time round though, Paul Simon's ethnic heart is less visible on his sleeve, and So Beautiful delves into rhythmical grooves for the sheer joyfulness of doing so, with less global signposting and po-faced worthiness.

For a man hitting 70, this is a surprisingly modern sounding record, influenced by loops and grooves more akin to practitioners less than half Simon's age. But this is no mere exercise in form; the sheer quality of the songwriting makes Simon sound more refreshed and relevant than he has done for years. 'Getting Ready for Christmas Day' starts things off in fine form, as exuberant and original sounding as it is unexpected. 'The Afterlife' has a lovely shuffling rhythm that leads neatly into the fabulous 'Dazzling Blue', a song that would have slotted neatly into the Graceland running order, except that it sounds so much more vibrant and modern. 'Love And Hard Times' slows the pace down a little, coming on like an outtake from Bookends, a lovely reflective song. Thereafter things begin to meander a little, hence this review's lack of the full 5 stars. But the title track which comes at the end is truly magnificent, arguably the best thing on an album of many delights.
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Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
I can appreciate all of the positive, 5 star reviews for this album - I am a big fan of Mr. Simon as well. He's seventy now but looks forty and his voice sounds great. Unfortunately, there are two big problems here. First, the songs aren't great by anybody's standards. Second, it's his first album for five years and it's only 38 minutes long! That's less than eight minutes of new music per annum. I appreciate it's not about quantity (how many 75 minute long Prince albums have we all sat through?) but 38 minutes is very stingey particularly when several songs fade out just as they get going.

The only song on this album that is worth downloading is 'The Afterlife' which is clever - typical Paul Simon - queue and fill out a form to get into Heaven - wouldn't surprise me if I ever get there! But the rest of the album is lukewarm stuff - and as one reviewer says here - sound like some of the off cuts from the African-influenced Simon albums - 'Rythmn of the Saints' and 'Gracelands'. So, overall can't get excited about this somewhat tuneless, production-thin, anonymous collection of 10 new songs from someone who is undoubtedly a musical giant. I'll revisit his back catalogue and file this under 'weak'.
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