There has to be at least one Paul Simon album in my Top 10. Or maybe a Simon & Garfunkel album. In the end it came down to a choice between Graceland and There Goes Rhymin’ Simon and Graceland won by a narrow margin.

I’ve bought the LP, cassette and CD of Graceland over time such is my love of the album and it’s mix of South African and Cajun music and American pop. Released in 1986 Graceland went on to achieve the rarity of both critical acclaim and huge sales despite the furore around Simon’s decision to record in South Africa during the time of the cultural boycott against apartheid.

The album made stars of artists like Ladysmith Black Mambazo and rekindled interest in Cajun music. Graceland is chock full of everything that marks Paul Simon out as a great composer, not least his lyrics which soar throughout the album, one minute obvious and direct, the next oblique almost to the point of confusion.

Graceland is simply an epic tour-de-force crafted at a time when Simon’s personal life was in meltdown. It was a radical departure from other music of the time but had echoes of Simon’s previous work where he had borrowed musical styles frequently. It’s typical Paul Simon. Meticulous craftsmanship, fabulous musicianship, great songs that all appear to be almost effortless.

Graceland is so good it lulls you into thinking writing and performing music is easy, that anyone can do it. The reality is that very few people have the talent that Paul Simon has demonstrated in a lifetime of music and Graceland is, in my opinion, his masterpiece album.



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