All The Favorite Melodies (Zion-021)
Osaka Festival Hall, Osaka, Japan – April 3rd, 1974
Disc 1: Me And Julio Down By The Schoolyard, Was A Sunny Day, Cecilia, Homeward Bound, American Tune, El Condor Pasa, Duncan, Death In Santa Cruz, Kacharpari, Scarborough Fair, The Boxer
Disc 2: Mrs. Robinson, Kodachrome, The 59th Street Bridge Song (Feelin’ Groovy), I Am A Rock, Mother And Child Reunion, The Sounds Of Silence, What Do You Call Him, Jesus Is The Answer, Bridge Over Troubled Water, Loves Me Like A Rock, Bye Bye Love, America
Paul Simon’s All The Favorite Melodies on the Zion label is a surprise on several levels. It is the first silver Paul Simon release in a long time. Several cdr labels have released some titles, but the silver labels have been quiet since Zion’s release last year about this time of the Simon And Garfunkel six disc set from Japan, 1982. Further, this release contains a previously uncirculated tape of a show that has so far escaped definitive documentation. There were silver releases of two of the Japanese shows several years ago.
Live Rhymin’ In Osaka (Mainstream MAST053/054) contains the April 1st show in Osaka, the first night in the city and the first show of the short tour. The Mainstream is a very good audience recording. Live Composin’ (Private Masters PM 055/56) was released in 1999 with a very good audience recording from the Budokan in Tokyo on the final night in Tokyo. The artwork claims to be from February 20 but is really April 10th. This new release on the Zion label is a good and clear but distant mono complete audience recording.
Although it isn’t as amazing as advertised, it still is a listenable and enjoyable document of a great, laid back performance. The tapers speak to one another on occasion by the microphone but they, and the rest of the audience, are respectful to the musicians and don’t present a problem. There are no major cuts on the tape and all of the music is present including Simon’s stage announcements.
The April 3rd show in Osaka is on the second half of the Live Rhymin’ tour and is the first of two shows in Osaka. This was when Simon began to incorporate elements of world music into his songs and to tour with musicians who would otherwise not be known. The set list is comprised of recent solo material and the Simon And Garfunkel classics, some of which have been rearranged in performance.
The show begins with Simon solo with a great version of “Me And Julio Down By The Schoolyard.” “Was A Sunny Day,” which gives the title of this release, is segued directly with “Cecilia.” Afterwards Paul explains, “I want to introduce someone to you. He’s my brother. Although he doesn’t usually play with me in concert, about a month ago I hurt my hand and I can’t play as much guitar as I usually play so I asked if he’d help me during these shows. His name is Eddie.” After that song a strange thing happens on stage. He’s given a present by someone and asks the audience if he should open it.
Without the visuals it’s hard to understand exactly what he receives, but the audience laugh along. He continues by introducing his band as a “South American band who live now in Paris…the name of their group is Urubamba.” The band brilliantly accompanies Simon on the next three songs. Before “El Condor Pasa” Simon switches instruments and says, “this instrument is called a charango. It has steel strings and nylon and it produces a very beautiful sound I think. And it’s made from an armadillo. It’s dead of course.”
Simon leaves the stage and Urubama play two of their recent songs, “Death In Santa Cruz” and the beautiful “Kacharpari” (a song of goodbye in his words). This is follow by “Scarborough Fair” with an arrangement played by the Peruvian band. The added wind instruments add a dreamlike sheen to the already haunting, ancient melody.
After “The Boxer” Simon is left alone onstage again for “Mrs. Robinson,” “Kodachrome” (where Simon emphasizes “I got a Nikon” camera to the amusement of the audience), “The 59th Street Bridge Song (Feelin’ Groovy),” and “I Am A Rock.” Before “Mother And Son Reunion” Simon introduces the second set of accompanying musicians by saying, “this next group of people come from Chicago and they sing gospel music…. The Jesse Dixon Singers.” They join in for the rest of the show and even have their own two songs, “What Do You Call Him” and “Jesus Is The Answer.”
During “Bridge Over Troubled Waters” Simon sings the verses with Dixon and his back up singers adding to their voices to produce one of the most moving versions of the piece. The set ends rather appropriately with the self penned gospel song from Here Comes Rhymin’ Simon “Loves Me Like A Rock.” Paul comes back alone for a two songs encore, “Bye Bye Love” and “America.”
All The Favorite Melodies is packaged in a double slimline jewel case and Zion print the artwork on glossy paper. Only three hundred copies were produced of one of the very few, but very best, Paul Simon silver releases to come out in a while and is worth having.If you liked this review, buy me a cup of joe. (Suggested: $3 a shot or $7.5 for a double)