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The Essential Paul Simon

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Paul Simon 6/26/2007

Review

Released five years after Warner's last Paul Simon comp, the single-disc The Paul Simon Collection: On My Way, Don't Know Where I'm Goin', the double-disc The Essential Paul Simon is a full 17 tracks heftier than its predecessor and contains all but one of its 19 songs (MIA is the latter-day "Love," which only hardcore fans will recognize as from You're the One, and they're not quite the market for this set anyway). It's also slimmer than the 1993 box Paul Simon 1964/1993, which spanned three discs but also encompassed his '60s recordings with Art Garfunkel, plus a single the duo recorded as Tom & Jerry, along with selections from his solo debut, The Paul Simon Songbook -- it was ambitious, where this compilation is efficient, picking up after the parting of ways with Garfunkel and running straight through until 2006's Surprise. The sequencing isn't strictly chronological -- some songs are shuffled around for effect, with "Still Crazy After All These Years" closing the first, while "Take Me to the Mardi Gras" is cleverly followed by the zydeco stomp "That Was Your Mother" -- but it roughly divides into having the first disc devoted to the '70s and early '80s, the second devoted to Graceland and beyond. Some might argue that there's too heavy of a Graceland presence here -- a whopping six tracks, over half the album -- but it is his biggest album and functions as a nice transition between his better-known '70s hits and the more esoteric but frequently compelling work that he's done since. And, unlike The Paul Simon Collection, The Essential Paul Simon is designed to introduce fellow travelers to the interesting work he's done since Graceland, as the second disc emphasizes that quite greatly, and it does a good job of it, while also providing a good summary of his best-known (and much of his best) solo work. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine
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  1. # Track Artist Length
  2. 1 Mother and Child Reunion Paul Simon 3:2
  3. 2 Loves Me Like a Rock Paul Simon 3:29
  4. 3 Me and Julio Down by the School Yard Paul Simon 2:41
  5. 4 Duncan Paul Simon 4:27
  6. 5 Kodachrome Paul Simon 3:30
  7. 6 50 Ways to Leave Your Lover Paul Simon 3:28
  8. 7 Slip Slidin' Away Paul Simon 4:44
  9. 8 Gone at Last Paul Simon 3:35
  10. 9 Something So Right Paul Simon 4:31
  11. 10 Late in the Evening Paul Simon 4:0
  12. 11 Hearts and Bones Paul Simon 5:38
  13. 12 Take Me to the Mardi Gras Paul Simon 3:25
  14. 13 That Was Your Mother Paul Simon 2:52
  15. 14 American Tune Paul Simon 3:43
  16. 15 Peace Like a River Paul Simon 3:18
  17. 16 Stranded in a Limousine Paul Simon 3:7
  18. 17 Train in the Distance Paul Simon 4:20
  19. 18 The Late Great Johnny Ace Paul Simon 4:45
  20. 19 Still Crazy After All These Years Paul Simon 3:23
  21. 1 Graceland Paul Simon 4:46
  22. 2 Diamonds on the Soles of Her Shoes Paul Simon 5:36
  23. 3 The Boy in the Bubble Paul Simon 3:57
  24. 4 You Can Call Me Al Paul Simon 4:36
  25. 5 Under African Skies Paul Simon 3:34
  26. 6 The Obvious Child Paul Simon 4:6
  27. 7 Born at the Right Time Paul Simon 3:48
  28. 8 The Cool, Cool River Paul Simon 4:30
  29. 9 Spirit Voices Paul Simon 3:53
  30. 10 Adios Hermanos Paul Simon 4:41
  31. 11 Born in Puerto Rico Paul Simon 4:54
  32. 12 Quality Paul Simon 4:10
  33. 13 Darling Lorraine Paul Simon 6:35
  34. 14 Hurricane Eye Paul Simon 4:11
  35. 15 Father and Daughter Paul Simon 4:9
  36. 16 Outrageous Paul Simon 3:22
  37. 17 Wartime Prayers Paul Simon 4:44

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