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Album Review: Bridge Over Troubled Water
Bridge Over Troubled Water is a great ending to a great thing. Some of the songs on this album are pretty, well... weird would be the right word, but all in all, it wraps up their career together pretty nicely. We get to hear Art sing solo one more time on what is possibly the best S&G song of all, and the final track, "Song For The Asking," brings everything poignantly together for us one last time.

What impresses me the most about this album is its use of varied instrumentation. Remember how Wednesday Morning, 3 a.m. was entirely acoustic guitar, except for a banjo on one song? Remember how acoustic guitar remained a huge staple of the other three albums, even putting in a fairly strong appearance on Bookends? We've come a long way. You won't find that strong focus here. Yes, acoustic guitar is on this album, but in much shorter supply than on previous albums. You've got the full piano sound on the title track, but there's also the heavy percussion of "Cecilia," the organ on "Keep The Customer Satisfied," and horns all throughout the album, most notably on "Baby Driver." There's the steel drum and trumpet in "The Boxer," and the woodwinds and strings in "So Long, Frank Lloyd Wright (Paul's farewell to Art, the former architecture major; in the background at the end you can hear Roy Halee and Paul calling "So long already, Artie!").

While it's not very typical of their music as a whole, "Bridge Over Troubled Water" is wonderful. It's not just my favorite song on this album. It's not just my favorite Simon and Garfunkel song. It's not just my favorite song of the era or the genre. It's my hands-down favorite song of all time. It's hard to come close to this piece of magic Paul conjured up and let Art put into action. If there were nothing else on this album worth listening to, I'd buy it anyway just for this song. Unfettered by the ribbons of applause it's tied in on live albums, this is the way the song was always meant to be heard.

I'd heard "Cecilia" on oldies radio so many times before becoming an S&G fan, but I never realized it was the same group who was singing "The Sound Of Silence" and "Homeward Bound." It's a fun song, fast, with clapping and an interesting rhythm. It gets old fast, but still worth listening to.

Who can forget the never-ending "lie la lie" chorus of "The Boxer"? About five years ago, I was traveling with some friends, and someone found an S&G CD in the van. It was the only thing we could all agree to listen to, and while everyone shouted out that they wanted to hear one song or another, they finally came to a general consensus: everyone wanted to hear "The Boxer." This is one of those songs that has something for everyone. For me, it's the chorus, which somehow seems empowering.

"Bye Bye Love" is the only live track on any of the five albums. Somehow S&G's cover of an Everly Brothers hit seems more sincere than the original, and I really like it. It feels like they mean it more than the Everly Brothers ever did. This song is one of the reasons this album's my favorite.

Overall, 4 out of 5 stars. There's some really nice stuff on here, but then there are some pieces that I don't understand or just plain don't like. I love the sounds and I love some of the songs, but I merely like the album.

All reviews © 2000-03 Andrea L. Robinson.
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