Paul Simon

Did Lewis need Clark, or Gracie need George, or Abbott Costello? Because Simon still needed Garfunkel, and if his first solo album aimed to dispel that impression, it fails. The style evolves but Paul lacks Art's vocal range, and Roy Halee's flat production still assumes his presence to fill the aural gap. Plus, what Simon's music really lacks here is a hook. He can find it when he wants to ("Mother and Child Reunion," "Duncan," "Me and Julio Down By The Schoolyard") but others drown in a morass of their own meanderings ("Armistice Day," "Papa Hobo," "Congratulations") and some otherwise promising songs ("Run That Body Down," "Peace Like A River") simply fall short for one stylistic deficiency or another; it's not that I mind the musings, mind you, but they really ought to go somewhere rather than die off into the runout groove. Everyone is permitted their transition and it fortunately didn't take him long, but that doesn't mean I'm going to give this overall muddled effort a pass. The 2004 reissue adds demos of "Me And Julio," "Duncan" and an unreleased version of "Paranoid Blues;" the former is as uninteresting as such demos usually are, but the "Duncan" demo is a rather different song and the evolution of "Paranoid Blues" adds at least some variety. (Content: adult themes on "Duncan.")