Morning, 3 a.m. isn't my favorite S&G album, but it does have
a lot of nice tracks. One of the things I love about this album is the
fact that their voices are split, with Paul on the right speaker and Art
on the left, and you can adjust the balance to get just one or the other.
The boys sound incredibly young, which of course they were. The album as
a whole is characterized by a lot of religious songs, and independently,
they're nice, but when you take S&Gís career as a whole, it feels like
they were being almost sarcastic on this early album.
Almost everything on this album is
usually overlooked, but some of the overlooked tracks are worth taking
a second look at. "Sparrow"
is pretty blatant, but makes for a good listen; "Go
Tell It On The Mountain" is simply a cover of a traditional piece,
but it's been arranged with some great interplay between the
voices. "Benedictus" is
translated in full as "Blessed are those who have come in the name of the
Lord," and it features beautiful language (Latin) and beautiful sound.
Sun Is Burning" starts off gently and beautifully, but by the fourth
verse, we realize what's up. This isnít a song about the movement of the
sun through the sky; itís a song about nuclear holocaust. Once you realize
that, the beginning is never quite the same... the children playing, the
couples holding hands: none of it seems innocent anymore; instead it's
very sad and poignant. Maybe itís just me, but the music doesnít seem quite
resolved at the end, like thereís more to tell, like somethingís been left
unfinished, as though there should be more to it. To me,
it helps to make the story more than just the words... the musicís
become a part of the telling.
I don't know if it's the sound, the
voices, the lyrics, or what, but something about "Bleeker
Street" just leaves me speechless. I love the atmosphere the boys create
with the music; somehow it fits the fog, the dreariness, the "sad café,"
just perfectly. One of the few songs that's ever made me want to cry, "Wednesday
Morning, 3 a.m." is another one of the stars of this album. S&G
always seemed very good at making you feel what they were singing, through
their voices, their words, and their music, and this is a great example.
Finally, the one track on this album
that I can almost guarantee that you've heard, though not necessarily this
version of it... "The Sound
Of Silence." Long live original album tracks. This uses just acoustic
guitar instead of the drums and electric guitar used in the hit version.
I love how at the beginning of the second verse, thereís a series of rising
chords... just lovely. The softness of the music makes the whole setup
much more surreal than the hit version.
Notes on the
expanded edition bonus tracks:
The only bonus
track I feel moved to comment on is the alternate take of "He
Was My Brother." This, apparently, is the harmonica part Art comments
in the original liner notes about fighting for. I like it; it gives the
song a little more flavor, and makes the song more interesting to listen
Overall, 3 stars out of 5. It's not
a bad album at all; it's just not terribly original. And yes, I understand
that they were young and that they were trying to do folk. There's some
great stuff on here, but as they proved in future albums, they were capable
of a whole lot more.