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Album Review: Bookends
I don't know what I was thinking when I originally reviewed Bookends and completely pooh-poohed it. This is extraordinary stuff. It's amazing, and I don't know why I dind't realize that before. I called things on here "pointless"? I said it "doesn't impress me much"? I said it didn't have anything I'd consider "a gem of a song"? Here and now I offer my sincere apologies to anyone who read that review and took offense. Profuse apologies to Simon and Garfunkel, if either of them ever had the misfortune to read it as well.

Here we go. What would have been side one of the LP is tracks 1-7 on the CD, and they're most of what makes the album so classic. The first incidence of the "Bookends Theme" is soft and sweet, almost like a lullaby. Then comes the harsh intro of "Save The Life Of My Child," a remarkable exercise in using all different kinds of sound: dialogue, voices, street noises. The best one is right after the second verse, an eerie, echoing sample of the first two lines of "The Sound Of Silence." The song ends with the repeating line "Oh my grace, I got no hiding place," which fades into the opening of "America." "America" is probably my favorite song from this album; it tells a little story, and it has nice sound. (I love the humming on the intro.) Afterwards, it blends into the beginning of "Overs." This is pretty and sad all at once, and now that I think about it I wonder if the title is supposed to be a verbal play on the word "lovers." It's followed by "Voices Of Old People," which I was once silly enough to call a "major error in judgment." For two minutes, the old people talk about their youth, their loves, and their current lives, with nuggets like "I still do it; I still lay on the half of the bed" and "I couldn't get any younger... I have to be an old man." Then we get "Old Friends," another beautiful track from this album. I loved it from the first time I heard it; it's a song that somehow wanders into both nostalgia and looking to years to come at the same time. The final notes carry over into "Bookends," closing this thematic journey with a reminder to "preserve your memories; they're all that's left you."

Other songs worth noting: musically, "Fakin' It" is spectacular. Listen for Art singing underneath the first two lines of the song; listen for the horns, which I think really make this piece as good as it is. And no self-respecting fan can go without mentioning "Mrs. Robinson." I really like the awesome guitar licks at the beginning (and all the way through, really). A true classic of S&G, one of those ones like "Bridge Over Troubled Water," where anyone can hear just the opening measures and know it's them. "A Hazy Shade Of Winter," while rather depressing, has the classic sound some of us call the S&G sound. It's all there, the guitars, both voices carrying the song at the same time instead of different parts, very classic. It's nice to be back to something familiar.

Overall, 5 out of 5 stars. This album is so tight, so quality, so together. Even the songs I don't like very much have great sound and great instrumentation (let's face it, on this album, sound is a lot more than just the instrumentation). I think we owe a lot to the sound engineer, Roy Halee, for making this so good.

All reviews © 2000-03 Andrea L. Robinson.
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