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Album Review: Parsley, Sage, Rosemary, and Thyme
Parsley, Sage, Rosemary, and Thyme is an album with a lot of their hits and some of their most well-known pieces. Many of the other classics are on here, songs that deserved to be hits but didn't make it. Sounds of Silence had the most songs I could tolerate, with only one track which I truly couldn't stand, but this album has the most songs I really appreciate and enjoy hearing. This album isn't may favorite, simply because it's not Bridge Over Troubled Water, but it comes very close. If I had to choose only one S&G album to listen to for the rest of my life, it would be Bridge, but if I could pick two, this would be the other.

"Scarborough Fair/Canticle" is one of the definitively S&G songs. You can't think of S&G without a few certain songs coming to mind, "The Sound Of Silence," "Bridge Over Troubled Water," or "Mrs. Robinson" being the first, and this one coming to mind shortly thereafter. Very beautiful soft opening. I love how during the middle three verses, things are moving back and forth between Paul and Art. It's really lovely. So is "Homeward Bound," which I feel is Parsley's jewel. It's just beautiful, with some awesome imagery going on, and the boys just make the listener feel like they're the poet and one-man band whose love lies waiting silently at home. Just a really awesome piece. I like the original album cut better than the Greatest Hits cut simply because the tempo is more fun on this one, steady and slow at the beginning, and the picking up speed and anxiety as each verse moves forward, like the train the narrator waits for. I adore this song.

Want more beautiful songs? This album's chock-full of them. "The Dangling Conversation" is elegantly done, both musically and lyrically. Paul's got some awesome imagery and metaphor going on in this one, and the music is just great. The whole thing is very dream-like. More than any other point in the song, it's in the last half of the final verse where you can really, really feel it just through the tone of voice: "And how the room is softly faded / And I only kiss your shadow / I cannot feel your hand / You're a stranger now unto me." "For Emily, Whenever I May Find Her" is gorgeous as well, and I highly recommend it.

Then there are the songs that are cooler or more intriguing than they are beautiful. And it's funny, because the openings of all three of them are what really gets me. For instance, the first few notes of "Cloudy" are so lullaby-ish. I love the rhythm on some of the stuff in here, like in "I left my shadow waitin' down the road for me a while." Their voices are very sweet-sounding through most of the piece. It's one of those songs that makes for great cheerful background if you don't read into it too far.

Again with the beginning of songs, the opening bars of "The Big Bright Green Pleasure Machine" remind me of the opening to Credence Clearwater Revival's "Bad Moon Rising," though that could just be me. It's weird, sassy, satirical, and fun; and to me, it's very typical of the tone of this album.

And the first few notes of "A Poem On The Underground Wall" try to convince you that it's going to be a nice slow song. WRONG. The voices and all the other music rapidly carry the setting of the train station all the way through. This is the second shortest piece on the album. It's a good song.

Overall, 4½ out of 5 stars. I could so easily have made at least one positive comment about every song on this album. It's quintessential S&G, the duo at their prime together, and all it could use is a little more coherency.

All reviews © 2000-03 Andrea L. Robinson.
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