CD Singer-Songwriter

Paul Simon & Art Garfunkel: Reeling Back the Years

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Title: The Early Years

Label: Hoodoo

An intriguing CD collection that features the pre-fame duo under a range of guises. Broadly covering works between 1957 and 1961, the tracks include Simon and Garfunkel as Tom & Jerry in 1957 and 1958, Paul Simon as True Taylor in 1958, Simon again between 1958 and 1962 as Jerry Landis, Simon once more but, this time with Lou Simon and The Ace Trumpets backing band in 1961, Garfunkel as Artie Garr in 1961 and Simon finally as part of the Mystics with Bob Ferrante, George Galfo, Albee Cracolici and Al Contrera in 1960 plus Simon back with his Landis name under the Tico & The Triumphs moniker in 1961 along with Mickey Borack (who was the ‘Tico’ of the band name), Gail Lynn, Marty Cooper and Howie Beck. All of this work was recorded in New York by a range of labels including BIG, MGM, Warwick, Canadian American, Hunt, Amy, Laurie, Octavia and AMP.

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This host of work does reveal a number of intriguing sub-plots in the history of the pair. The most interesting was the time, Art Garfunkel was temporarily side-lined at school during the duo’s Tom & Jerry period, working with Sid Prosen at BIG. With Garfunkel gone, Simon lost no time in signing up with Prosen as a solo artist and even accepted Prosen’s idea of the True Taylor alias. Simon decided to record a song co-written with his father, Lee Simon called True or False which Simon sang in a faux-Buddy Holly delivery in 1958. Art Garfunkel found out about the whole thing, of course. He wasn’t happy about it, either. In fact, he saw the entire venture as a serious betrayal. Even their respective families were hurt by this move and the rancour that followed. And so music history moved forwards.

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The mastering for this CD is good, overall. It initially struggles with the compression on the early tracks, especially the inherent compression in the likes of the Everly Brothers rip-off, Hey Schoolgirl, that reveals a period thin sound with a narrow upper midrange and little dynamic range. Quality rises noticeably as the CD progresses, though. Simon as Landis singing Play Me a Sad Song, broadens the soundstage while infusing it with air and space to produce a nicely melodic and socially rewarding ditty.

A fascinating collection that is essential for fans of the duo.

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