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,
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
Robinson." I really like the awesome guitar licks at the beginning
(and all the way through, really). A true staple 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 that classic 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.
Notes on the
expanded edition bonus tracks:
Don't Know Where Your Interest Lies" was the B-side of the "Fakin'
It" single. I don't really like it, but there's something very vintage
about the sound of it. Worth including, if only to make the album more
complete. And just a note on the demo of "Old
Friends": for some reason, the "how terribly strange to be seventy
verse" is omitted. To me, that verse adds something to the
song, but hey, it's a demo.
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.