Then And Now (Tarantura TCDS&G – 1, 4)
Then (Tarantura TCDS&G-1-1,2)
Korakuen Stadium, Tokyo, Japan – May 10th, 1982
Disc 1 (58:55): Tuning / Opening / Mrs. Robinson / Homeward Bound / America / MC in Japanese / Me & Julie Down By The Schoolyard / Scarborough Fair / My Little Town / Wake Up Little Susie / Still Crazy After All These Years / Bright Eyes / Late In The Evening / Slip Slidin’ Away / El Condor Pasa / Fifty Ways To Leave Your Lover / Steve Gadd Solo / The Late Great Johnny Ace
Disc 2 (42:46): American Tune / Kodachrome / Mabellene / Bridge Over Troubled Water / The Boxer / Encore Cheers / Old Friends / Bookends / 59th Street Bridge Song / About Yamaha Custom Guitar / Sound of Silence / Band Introduction / Late In The Evening / Announcement
A new Simon & Garfunkel set has just appeared on Tarantula records featuring shows recorded in Japan Monday 10th May 1982 & Wednesday 15th July 2009. Soundboards exist from this tour (Eastbound Zion 022 ) but these are both full audience recordings of the shows in question. The first show ( recorded by Mr.Peach ) has been released before on “Korakuen First night” ( Masterport – 025 ) & then on part of a 6 CD set of S&G shows named “At Korakuen” ( Zion – 016 ) of the Japanese ‘Reunion’ tour of 1982 & the fourth date of this rendezvous.The Band that support S&G are John Eckert & John Gatchell on Trumpets, Gerry Niewood & Fred Lipsius on Sax, George Wadenius on additional guitar, Richard Tee on keyboard, Rob Mounsey & Ed Walsh on Synth, Wayne Pedzwater on bass & on drums Steve Gadd & Jesse Carr. The tape starts with chatter, whistling & what sounds a lot like the taking of pictures on flash cameras from the audience & of the band tuning up ( although a lot of this is lost underneath a lot of the hum from the audience ) & a very near conversation in Japanese then the band arrive & launch straight in to ‘Mrs. Robinson’ the hit song that was written for the film The Graduate starring Dustin Hoffman.
The tape is marred slightly by a couple of loud conversations from the audience but it’s nothing that’s too overbearing & the fact that the bass is a little bearing which can sometimes cause a little ‘seasickness’ – the CD is best listened with the bass turned down but it does get better as the concert goes along. S&G are a couple of shows in to their tour now & warming up nicely although through the first song the S&G struggle a little to syncopate their vocals a little & the reunion sheen of the 1980’s will rear it’s head a few times with Saxophone played by Gerry Niewood & Fred Lipsius & synthesizer played by Rob Mounsey & Ed Walsh which bring S&Gs folkish stylings in to something a little more contemporary. it’s sometimes strange to hear these additions to the back catalogue but the changes are subtle & don’t overpower the original feel of the songs. Other highlights to the set include “Homeward Bound” with a slightly slower paced version than the original version but it only pronounces the beauty of the melody & the feeling of longing. After “America” S&G try their hand at a little Japanese – it must be funny as the audience seem to appreciate it.
“Scarborough Fair” benefits from not having too much emphasis on the bass or drums & where the vocals can be heard a little more clearly. The harmonies by this time are almost spun from pure gold – they’re nailed by S&G who almost seem to be the two heads to one body – it’s fantastic to hear & the sound seems to get better from there .. Maybe Mr. Peach was aware he was catching too much ‘red level noise’ & has shifted his recording equipment a little . The band also have fun by playing through the Everly Brother’s “Wake Up Little Susie” in quite a spirited performance of the old rock & roller. “Still Crazy After All These Years” features a none too obtrusive sax solo. As Gsparaco has pointed out then just as this is a S&G reunion show then one shouldn’t expect that the duo wouldn’t want to take the chance to show off what they’d been doing in the interim with Art again pulling out songs from his ‘Bright Eyes’ soundtrack & Paul playing songs from his eponymous solo records.
By “Slip Slidin’ Away” the audience are cheered enough to start clapping the second the song starts & once the first words are sung then they’re met with thorough appreciation. “Fifty Ways To Leave Your Lover” is a rolocking, beat driven & catchy little ditty but seems to have a smaller impact than the other songs as the audience don’t seem to participate as much but the song is augmented by a healthy trumpet solo by either John Eckert or John Gatchell – the song does give way to a jumpy drum solo by Steve Gadd that, while only a minute long is a great ending to the song. Paul then mentions he’d like to play a new song, his tribute to John Lennon, “The Late Great Johnny Ace”. The audience have come to see a greatest hits package though & the whistles & chatter grow a little but then it is one of the quieter songs of the night & after “El Condor Pasa” & “Fifty Ways .. ” and the audience have been whipped up somewhat.
Disk 2 starts with “American Tune” – a hymn to the homeland – once the song finishes a rabid voice shouts something in Japanese to much applause &, almost as a test to the equipment we hear someone knock over a tin can – again it sheds some light on to where the recorder is being held & how good the recording should be. “Bridge Over Troubled Water” is possibly the best recorded song of the night as once the first few bars of the song are recognised for a few seconds the audience go wild then settle in to a reverential hush only clapping at the quiet ends of the chorus ( because of the quiet then it’s in the song that the tape picks up some slightly mumbled singing from another audience member – yet another pointer to the fact that the recording is getting better as the taper settles in.
“Bookends” the delicate title track from the album of the same name is played starkly with just guitar & piano but is marred slightly by a siren kind of noise that’s faintly audible in the back ground. “59th Street Bridge Song” again gets the audience excited from the jangle of it’s first chords & it’s obvious ‘feelin’ groovy’ refrain. Paul then thanks the makers of Yamaha guitars for making his guitar which he puts to good use on “Sounds of Silence”. it’s a brilliant retelling of the song as intimate & close sounding as the original. The band finish on “Late In the Evening” from the Simon album “One Trick Pony” ( songs from which were demo’d between S&G but tentions proving too much Paul packed up half way through & took his compositions with him .. ) a strange ending to a Simon & Garfunkel show i would have thought but it does get one of the biggest receptions of the night. The tape concludes with a standard announcement from the Korakuen stadium in Japanese which quickly fades out. All in all then it’s a rather good period tape from a well played show. the ambiance is akin to being in the audience rather than at the front or on stage. i’d recommend this to positive followers of Simon & Garfunkel but not so much to anyone who would normally pass the chance by.
And Now (Tarantura TCDS&G-4-1, 2)
Nippon Budokan, Tokyo, Japan – July 15th, 2009
Disc 1 (74:19): Anouncement / Goods Information “At The Front Row” / Concert Information / Announcement / Montage – History – ‘America’ Instrumental / Old Friends / Bookends Theme / Hazy Shade Of Winter / I Am A Rock / America / Kathy’s Song / Tales Of Tom & Jerry / Hey, School Girl / Be Bob A Lula / Scarborough Fair / Homeward Bound / The 59th Street Bridge Song – The Graduate / Mrs. Robinson / Not Fade Away / Mrs. Robinson / Slip Slidin’ Away / El Condor Pasa
Disc 2 (79:46): Art Garfunkel Solo *** Bright Eyes / Art MC / A Heart In New York / Perfect Moment / Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep *** Paul Simon Solo *** Introduction / Boy In The Bubble / Graceland / Still Crazy After All These Years / Only Living Boy In New York / My Little Town / Bridge Over Troubled Water / Sound Of Silence / The Boxer / Leaves That Are Green / Cecilia / Band Introduction / Cecilia (reprise) / SE – What Is Life – Announcement / Exit Regulations
“And Now” the second part to the set brings the band immediately up to date – no new album, no new songs, no real agenda but a tour round Japan. the tape is another clear sounding audience tape featuring pretty much the whole concert – announcements, concert information, exit regulations & all. to be honest 20 minutes of all this is 20 minutes too long for me & unless you were there or can speak Japanese then you might want to skip the first 5 tracks before the band arrive. Once they do there’s the customary applause which has the rather strange overtone of a fizzy or carbonated drink being poured in to a glass.
The concert itself is programmed pretty much as the 1982 album with changes to the band ( the band line up includes : Charley Drayton on drums, on piano Warren Bernhardt, On Percussion Jamey Haddad, Bakithin Kumalo on Bass, Larry Saltzman, Mark Stewart & Vincent Nguni on guitar, Rob Schwimmer on keyboards, On Accordion & keyboards Tiny Cedras & on Sax Andy Snitzer ) a change in some of the songs ( bringing back some covered classics ) & splitting some of the latter set in to a solo concert of sorts. It starts with a wistful & subdued “Old Friends”. S&G obviously know what they’re doing & the nerves that were evident on the first concert in 1982 are gone & the harmonies are like syrup or glue in that they mingle like this act was as finely polished as an act thats been on the road together ever since the 60’s with no break.
Highlights include a spirited version of “Hazy Shade Of Winter” from the 1966 album “Bookends” unfortunately the tape is marred throughout it’s more upbeat songs by a persistent clapper standing a little too close to the taper ( Crypton ). The concert takes a dip in to the slower part of the catalogue while S&G roll through some of the sanguine hits from their previous incarnation before dropping in a couple of R&R oldies – such as playing a few seconds of their early Tom & Jerry “Hey, School Girl” before launching in to a rather sprited version of “Be Bop A Lula” & then it’s back to the back catalogue. “The 59th Street Bridge Song” is seagueded in to “Mrs. Robininson” by a gratuious clip of speech from the film the band then strike in to the Buddy Holly classic “Not Fade Away” before returning to a coda of “Mrs. Robinson” . the band then turn their sights to Paul’s solo recordings by playing “Slip Slidin’ Away” from his ‘Greatest Hits, Etc’ album. a stunning & rather peaceful version of the song that works well with Art & Paul’s harmonies seagueing together again. As the band are bigger this time then “El Condor Pasa” is given a lot more space to breathe & sounds like a traditional folk song embelished with even more traditional native american instruments.
On disk 2 then the first set is given over to Art’s solo songs. “Bright Eyes” is given an explosion of of applause – given that it’s possibly his best known song from the solo hit’s that he’ll play – and a song that lighters were invented for – then it comes as no surprise but it’s a testiment to Art that his voice has stayed pretty much the same in 27 years fairly hitting those high notes that the song commands. Once Art has had his four song turn then it’s Paul’s time to roll through his solo outing. as he’s had his “Slip Slidin’ Away” performed earlier in the show he gives himself only 3 tracks to work with – the Dylanesque “Boy In The Bubble” is first & is augumented by a sharp guitar solo & is a rather rockier song than any of Art’s have been but as Art was essentially a ballad singer then his voice works better on the softer songs.
After “Boy .. ” then theres a quick swerve in to Paul’s “Graceland” – a song inspired by a visit to Elvis Presleys estate & by the South African musicians worked with on the ‘Gracelands’ album & then “Still Crazy After All These Years” which slows everything down considabrley. The band reconveine for the more S&G songs with “Only Living Boy In New York”, “My Little Town” & then the ever expected “Bridge Over Troubled Water” – surely one of the highlights of the evening although one gets the feeling that Paul is racing through the song at this point – maybe it’s the pianist thats getting a little ahead of himself ..
The band return for a brief encore of “The Sound Of Silence” & “The Boxer” – the boxer is accomponied by loud clapping for the first minute before most of the audience stop & only the hardcore or more rhythmicly possesed are able to keep up. trouble is most that do seem to be close to the taper & these is one solitary handclap that akes an appearence fleetingley throughout the song ruining it to my ears. Thankfully the handclap doesn’t return for the second encore that begins with a soft as butter “Leaves That Are Green” if you only had this song to remember the ending of the concert then it would be more than enough but feeling that they want to end of a high the band wordlessly sprint in to a sprited version of “Cecilia” which features the handclaps again but this time they seem to keep up with the song itself & the feeling of celebration. After a lengthy band introduction the band pick back up “Cecilia” & give the audience a worthy send off with a jolly reprise.
the CD ends with a playback thrugh the stadiums speakers of George Harrison’s “What Is Life” overlaid with an announcement in Japanese Which is then followed by 5 minutes of conversation that sounds like the taper leaving his seat & walking out of the stadium. it really is a fans ear listen that’s been laid out on this tape & suggests that Crypton is someone that when they set their mind on recording a concert then they have to have EVERYTHING. Again particulally useful if you speak Japanese ..
The set come wraped in a glossy clam shell box with wonderful period photos on the front & back, the Korakuen Stadium logo on the front & the 2009 tour logo on the back, reproductions of the tapers tickets on the side, the tapers logos, a Tarantula logo & the boxes are stamped with their numbers on the side ( this edition being limited of 100. ) inside the disks are sperated with glossy slip sleeves – between “Then” & “And Now” & each feature period stage pictures & photos of the stadiums.
For more tape sources of an excellent show, this is another beautiful sounding and looking title from Tarantura, who are one of the few labels who find previously un-circulated tapes.If you liked this review, buy me a cup of joe. (Suggested: $3 a shot or $7.5 for a double)