Tag Archives: Really Classic Album Reviews

Really Classic Album Review: Sounds of Silence

Artist(s): Simon & Garfunkel
Full Title: Sounds of Silence
Year: 1966
Label: Columbia/ CBS
Tracks:

1) Sounds of Silence- 9
2) Leaves That Are Green- 8
3) Blessed- 7/8
4) Kathy’s Song- 9
5) Somewhere They Can’t Find Me- 8
6) Anji (instrumental)- 7
7) Richard Cory- 8
8) A Most Peculiar Man-9
9) April Come She Will- 10
10) We’ve Got a Groovy Thing Goin’- 8
11) I Am a Rock-9

Comments:
Simon & Garfunkel kick off this ditty with an impassioned, classic, Folk Rock anthem in the title track. The song showcases the duo’s great talent for harmonious vocals, soft, emotional, pop ballads; a far, far cry from their Tiger Beaty teen idol counterparts. A focal point, I often feel is necessary to make- that S & G were not just another wimpy, sensative, Teeny Bopper group, a category/genre that they are sometimes cast aside to. “Leaves That Are Green,” is a nice, catchy number, not too adventerous, but sound. “Blessed,” at least for my money, doesn’t quite cut as deep; it’s an ok tune, but not on par with other tracks. Enter “Kathy’s Song,” a rather soft spoken ballad, that is extremely direct, musically and lyrically. It’s as if Simon is singing soley for Kathy. The tune utilizes the “less is more” logic: it’s simply Simon and his Gee Tar singing his poetry, without any major choruses or instrumental changes. It really gives the ballad a distinct quality and overall feel. Clearly, the band had a knack for writing poetic numbers with deep themes behind them. Later on in the album, we hear two back to back character studies of two very different (or very similar?) suicide victims. The first being “Richard Cory” (based on the Edwin Arlington Robinson poem of the same name, we read in Brennan’s class, if y’all recall :) a fast paced tale about a extremely successful businessman, who seems to have it all and then one night decides to “put a bullet through his head.” This unexpected suicide is contrasted by the next track, “A Most Peculiar Man,” a slow, softer, song about a lonely man, who “lived all alone, within a house, within a room, within himself.” This fucking guy leaves on the gas in his car and thus takes his own life, much to no one’s chagrin. The two studies brilliantly stand in stark contrast to one another. They are followed up by the gentle, folky, “April Come She Will,” the LP’s strongest track, in my humble opinion. It’s so peaceful and almost Summerlike- reminding me of kicking back, relaxing, and thinking about “life.” And ok, also the fact that the months idenitfied include the Summer season! Another reason why I adore this lesser known S & G track is the fact that it was featured in the classic film, The Graduate (1967) as was the title track, the much, much more famous song. For some reason, April stands out to me more and instantly brings back images of the film and the scene it’s featured in. April, her only crime? Brevity… 1:53 is too short! This LP closes with another Folk Rock anthem in “I Am a Rock,” a highly catchy and memorable ditty that contains just about everything that made the pair loveable to begin with. Overall, this is a solid listen, but comparably weaker than most of their efforts. It feels more like a bunch of decent songs, rather than a whole album. With that being said, if you like 60s Folk Rock, poetic lyrics, songs with stories, a shit load of harmony in your vocals, etc. then you will probably dig this, and naturally if you are a fan of Simon and Garfunkel, then by all means, check this out.

Grade: B+

Really Classic Album Review: The Village Green…

Artist: The Kinks
Full Title: The Kinks Are the Village Green Preservation Society
Year: 1968
Label: Reprise
Grade: A
Tracks:
1) The Vilage Green Preservation Society- 8
2) Do You Remember Walter?- 10, Best Track!
3) Picture Book– 9
4) Johnny Thunder- 8
5) Last of the Steam-Powered Trains- 8
6) Big Sky– 9/10
7) Sitting By the Riverside– 9
8) Animal Farm– 9
9) Village Green– 10
10) Starstruck– 9
11) Phenominal Cat- 8
12) All of My Friends Were There– 9
13) Wicked Annabella- 8
14) Monica- 8
15) People Take Pictures of Each Other- 8/9

Comments: Everyone knows at least a few Kinks songs. Believe me, for you buzzcocks out there, maybe you do not know who the Kinks are or were, but I am positive you have heard the classics, “You Really Got Me,” “All Day and All Night, ” “Lola,” and so forth. Of course these are praiseworthy, but sadly the general public merely focuses on the aforementioned Kinks tunes and eshews their LPs, which are truly masterpieces of Pop and Rock and Roll music. When Village Green hit the stores it sold poorly in both the UK and the US, but especially in the states. This is due in part to the heavy use of British themes and the fact that the Kinks were banned in America; yeah they were badasses! But, clearly there was/is more to the lack of enthusiasm amongst music listeners than the above reasons. This begs a question I often ponder: What am I hearing in certain “pop” artists that seems so beautiful and catchy, that others are not hearing? Or what are they hearing that sounds so unappealing or atrocious to them? Perhaps, I have just developed taste, rather then simply looking to the mainstream for answers. But, seriously, it’s like why don’t or won’t people enjoy such diverse pop artists as Jay Reatard, Ween, or the Jesus and Mary Chain? Well…. early JAMC is pretty noisy lol. Anyway, I’ve leapt off into a wild tangent for too long. Back to the record, which by the way, is probably far more commercially successful then other critics and I will lead you to believe, when you compare the album’s sales to the likes of the Strange Boys and most of the other obscure artists chronicled on this blog. On the other hand, it is peculiar that such a mega rock act like the Kinks can have an album that is critically well receved and yet commerically flops. Other bands of the era like The Beatles and The Rolling Stones did not suffer from this syndrome, if you call it suffering. Ok, I am really done with that stuff for now! Sonically, this is a pop masterpiece, if I haven’t made that as clear as day, by this point. The music is cheery and upbeat, often matching with the colorful lyrics/themes displayed on this record. We have phenominal cats, big skies, stars, villages, plenty of pictures, riversides, and an animal farm. A recurring motif is the loss of childhood, suburban innocence (“Do You Remember Walter?” and “Village Green”) in exchange for superficial fame and glory, which turns sour (“Big Sky” and “Starstuck.”). In terms of the music, it’s farily soft, for the early practicioners of Hard Rock, but one can still jive to the group’s grooves. I don’t even know exactly what that means… With this record, the band expanded their seminal pop dynamics and displayed far more musical prowess and creativity, without abandoning their hooks. Overall, I can see why this is the Brits’ most critically acclaimed album; I highly recommend it to anyone and it is now amongst my favorite albums of all times. Top 50, yeah it’s that exqusite!

Chris