Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Paul Simon 4: Live Rhymin’

As affirmation that he was to be accepted as an artist on his own, and not just the shorter guy in a duo, Paul Simon’s tour supporting There Goes Rhymin’ Simon was commemorated with a live album. Its barely inspired title of Live Rhymin’, by which it’s generally known, can be excused considering all the words crammed onto the label for the credits.
The first three songs are solo acoustic performances of already-classics, then he brings out the Urubamba combo to support him for “El Condor Pasa” and “Duncan”, ably presenting the unique sounds of those recordings onstage. Their embellishments on “The Boxer” are a matter of personal taste, but we hear his extra verse for the song the first time here. The Jessy Dixon Singers were the other guests on the tour, and they come out to support “Mother And Child Reunion” and “Loves Me Like A Rock”, which they do well, and better than on “The Sound Of Silence”. Simon must have known he couldn’t do vocal justice for “Bridge Over Troubled Water”, so they help there too, though that didn’t stop him from emoting over the lengthy repeated coda. (He leaves them alone for “Jesus Is The Answer”, providing a bathroom break right in the middle of side two. Presumably they also supply the drums and organ on this part of the album; no issue has ever identified the players on each track.)
These days, Live Rhymin’ is seen as a stopgap commercial ploy, to fill the racks between the hit album and the next presumed masterpiece. Indeed, considering the success he’s had with big concert tours, it’s a harbinger, but still an intriguing snapshot of a time when his presentation was simpler. (It would be many years before the album was expanded, and well after his other solo albums got similar treatment, but rather than presenting a complete concert or equivalent sequence, the updated CD only added two tracks.)

Paul Simon with Urubamba and the Jessy Dixon Singers Paul Simon In Concert: Live Rhymin' (1974)—3
2011 CD reissue: same as 1974, plus 2 extra tracks

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