Paul Simon

In box

Phases & Stages

Paul Simon

The Studio Recordings 1972-2000 (Rhino)

Is Paul Simon Bob Dylan's equal? In terms of success and popularity with the general public, the answer is yes. But consider the differences between them: Even though both got their start in folk music, Simon is easily categorized as a master of pop tunes, while history will remember Dylan as a rocker. Either way, the comparison between the two seminal singer-songwriters is conjured by the release of this 9-CD box comprised of Simon's solo oeuvre (the discs will be released individually in July). Both collections feature pristine remastered sound and similar packaging, but Dylan's had no extras while Simon's includes 30 bonus tracks, six songs previously unreleased. If you're interested in Simon's creative process, demos of "Me and Julio Down by the Schoolyard," "Loves Me Like a Rock," and "Slip Slidin' Away" are illuminating. An unreleased take of Graceland's "Diamonds on the Soles of Her Shoes" and live recordings of tunes for his most recent release, You're the One, on the other hand, seem superfluous. Still, you'll discover that as albums go, Graceland follow-up The Rhythm of the Saints and Still Crazy After All These Years remain potently tuneful. Meanwhile, lesser-known efforts panned upon release, 1980's One-Trick Pony and '83's Hearts and Bones, have gained a measure of respectability and warmth with age. There's probably no saving Broadway tie-in Songs From the Capeman, but going eight for nine is a Hall of Fame batting average any way you tally it. (Simon & Garfunkel play the Frank Erwin Center Tuesday, July 6.)

****

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