Daily Archives: Sunday, 14th Jun 2009

Simon & Garfunkel – The Collection

I first became aware of Simon and Garfunkel when I was quite young – as I recall, my brother had the Bridge Over Troubled Water album, and I must have heard it many times as a child. Since then, I’ve heard a lot of their songs, got a compilation or two, and enjoyed seeing the 1981 reunion concert on TV once or twice.

I hadn’t actually listened to them in years, which tends to happen a lot with me – I’ll get into something for a while, play it a lot, then move on to something else, but sooner or later things pop up again. And the latest pop up was this box set, which I spotted in my local HMV at £8[1]. I looked, and couldn’t quite believe what was in the box for that price. All five of their original studio albums and the DVD of the 1981 concert in Central Park.

The CDs are packed in cardboard sleeves that are reproductions of the original album sleeves. That’s quite nice, but the process used to reduce the images has made most of the text on the back of sleeves more or less illegible. But that’s a minor quibble at this price. There’s also a small booklet with track listings and a few photographs. Each CD comes with at least a couple of extra tracks – mostly different versions or demos of tracks on the album, but there are some extra songs. Nothing that probably hasn’t been on other compilations, but this package doens’t really seem to be aimed at the serious collector or completist – this is for anyone who might know a few Simon and Garfunkel songs, and would like to hear a load more, and in that, it does a great job. A normal “best of” CD can be found for around £5, so getting all this for just £3 more is a pretty serious bargain.

I won’t go into complete track-by track detail, but I will point out a few of the highlights:

Wednesday Morning, 3AM

Their first album, released in 1964, and pretty much pure acoustic folk. Notable for the original version of The Sound of Silence, which became a hit after the record company added a more dramatic backing track. The title track is a lovely piece, too…

Sounds of Silence

Includes that “improved” version of The Sound of Silence, and a song that reused parts of Wednesday Morning 3AM to follow up on that song’s story of the young man who has to run away from all he loves. And it closes with what I seem to recall Paul Simon describing as his “most neurotic song”, the quite wonderful I am a Rock

Parsley, Sage, Rosemary & Thyme

Opens with one of those Simon & Garfunkel songs everyone knows – Scarborough Fair / Canticle, as fine a demonstration of any of the duo’s vocal talents. Another highlight is Homeward Bound.

Bookends

As they moved on, more and more instruments were introduced, and more backing vocals and more of everything was added. This album is quite a dramatic contrast from the folky first one, but it’s none the worse for that. On this one there’s the repeated Bookends Theme, the really quite classic America, and of course their cover of the Lemonheads’ classic Mrs Robinson[2].

Bridge Over Troubled Water

The final album, which includes more classic songs. There’s the title track, of course. Then there’s The Boxer, which is quite superb and noted for a great drum sound punctuating the chorus. Great stuff.

The Concert in Central Park

This offers a good selection of their songs, and some from their respective solo careers. Some of the versions are a bit limp, to be honest (The Boxer suffers from lacking that bang after each “Lie-la-lie”), but it’s a good enough show and worth watching from time to time.

However you look at this set – some cheap CDs with a free DVD, a DVD with a load of free CDs, or just a real bargain, it’s worth getting if you’re at all interested in the music of Simon and Garfunkel. I’d have said that at it’s previous price of £15. At £8, it’s a steal.

[1] I see it’s slightly cheaper than that on Amazon, but never mind
[2] Just seeing if anyone reads this stuff :rofl: [3]
[3] And in case of any lingering doubt, that’s a joke[4]
[4] If you’re thinking that there’s really no need for me to explain that, you haven’t spent enough time on the internet. Good move.

Robin Hood – The Enemy of my Enemy

After last week’s deep soul searching, this episode saw a return to the usual levels of silliness we’ve come to expext from this series.

Robin and Guy, having been persuaded to work together are riding through the forest. It’s not long before they start bickering and indeed fighting again, and it’s during the fight that Allan sees them and summons the rest of the gang, who turn up and break things up. Kate, who’s still a bit upset about her bother having been killed, is just about to provide a similar service to Guy, when Robin tells her to stop as Guy is now “one of us”, which is putting it a bit strong really…

Robin explains that he and Guy have to go to York to free Archer. The rest of the gang clearly think that Robin has lost the plot[1].  Guy mutters about how he and the gang might not like each other, but they do have a common cause in opposing his slightly bonkers sister. And yes, he comes up with the old classic:

The enemy of my enemy is my friend

Now I’ve always thought that was a really dubious idea. For all you know, your enemy’s enemy might be a complete psycho who doesn’t get on with anyone, and that you might be better off having a nice chat with your enemy than uniting with the unknown. But enough of such attempts at taking this seriously, and on with the story.

In that well-known tourist attraction, the York Dungeon, Archer is dragged away by the guards. Is he going to be executed before Robin can get there? Well, that would mess up the rest if the series[2], so I think we can assume he won’t be.

Isabella, who’s proving to be just as crazy, if not as much fun, as the scenery-chewing original, really, really, really wants Robin caught, and to that end bribes a toll collector to make sure she’s informed if he happens to see him. She must have bribed the right one, because he does indeed tell her that he saw Robin and Guy together after they robbed him on their way to York. She’s not at all happy about Robin and Guy working together, so she sends a man to York to brief the Sheriff of York about the two criminals who will be visiting his city, and how she’ll pay lots of money if he hands them over alive.

While that’s going on, Archer, who turns out to be a quite charming, if slightly dodgy character is with the Sheriff’s wife in her bedroom. He asks Mrs Sheriff[3] to persuade her husband not to hang him, before he goes back to the dungeon with some food which he shares with the other prisoners, thus establishing that while he may be a bit of a rogue, he’s not all that bad, which I’m sure will be important later.

Back at the outlaw’s camp, the gang have a little chat about Robin’s new best pal Guy. While most of the gang reluctantly agree that they’ll trust Robin, Little John is having none of it. Saying that Robin has betrayed them all, and that he’s had enough, he throws down his staff and storms off. Allan decides to follow him…

And in York, Archer has been brought before the Sheriff, and in order to avoid being executed, he offers to demonstrate his knowledge of alchemy, and sure enough with the aid of some “magic powder” and a big bang, he apparently turns base metal into gold. Shortly after this, he manages to get away from his guards, but is distracted by Mrs Sheriff, who wants to go with him. The Sheriff catches them together, and orders them both to be executed. Archer again does the “he’s a bit naughty, but a decent man really” routine, and tells the Sheriff that his far from innocent wife is innocent, and how he forced his way into her room, etc, etc. She goes along with this, and the Sheriff orders that Archer should be boiled in oil and have various other nasty things done to him.

In the forest, Allan catches up with Little John and tries to persuade him to come back, and how he’s needed, but he still refuses to play. Allan leaves him just in time for him to be captured by Isabella and her soldiers. Allan follows them and manages to get John free. As John now knows that Isabella is going to York, he rejoins the gang – after all, Robin is family…

Robin and Guy have now reached York, and come up with a Cunning Plan to free Archer. One of them will get arrested, the other will get some money to bail out the prisoner, and while they’re at it, they’ll sort of get Archer out of the dungeon. Somehow. After a slight disagreement, it’s Guy who gets locked up, Robin who does some robbing and presents himself to the Sheriff of York, pays a suitable amount and is led to the dungeon to collect Guy. Of course, it’s while he’s on the way down that Isabella’s man arrives and tells the Sheriff about the dangerous criminals…

Down in the dungeon, Guy meets Archer, after a kind of Spartacus routine (I’m Archer! No, I’m Archer!) with the other prisoners. And so they escape, accompanied, at Archer’s insistence[4] by all the other prisoners. But they’re still in the castle, so there’s lots of it’s this way, no it’s that way fun and games before they’re trapped. The Sheriff decides he isnt’ all that interested in Isabella’s money and wants to have Robin, Guy and Archer all killed. Must go with the job description, or something…

The rest of Robin’s gang, having sorted out Isabella’s guards and put her off going to York just now, make their own way there and arrive just in time to join in the fun. Mrs Sheriff arranges an explosion (more alchemy!) which generates enough smoke for Robin and Archer to get off the horses that have been provided as convenient platforms for hanging them. And they both shoot arrows that cut the rope that’s already been put around Guy’s neck.

All good fun. Mrs Sheriff wants to leave with Archer, but he declines. He also declines to go to Nottingham with Robin and Guy. He’s decided that they’re quite mad – having given up wealth and power to fight for what they believe in. He tells them that the weapons he has are for sale if they’re interested, and that he’s got his own plans, thank you. And off he rides. On Guy’s horse. It’s occurred to me that Archer is, in fact, Han Solo. Thinks the idealists are nuts, looking after his own interests, but fundamentally decent under the brash surface. So we can expect him to arrive just in time to save Luke Robin at some point, I’m sure.

Once they’re back at camp, Robin manages to persuade Kate to accept Guy’s presence, even if she won’t actually trust him.

And Archer rides towards Nottingham…

All quite outrageously silly, really. But I can’t stop watching it!

[1] Assuming he had it in the first place, which is debatable
[2] And if my suspicions are correct, the next one too
[3] Or whatever her name was. It’s getting harder to keep track of the characters in this
[4] They’re really building him up, aren’t they? Time was, it would have been Robin insisting on freeing everyone

Twittering: 2009-06-14

  • Removed Friendfeed, which should cut some FB duplication and needless confusion. I can confuse people quite well enough on my own #fb #
  • Of course, remembering to remove the Twitter app from FB might have helped. *This time* there should be no repetition. #fb #
  • OK, that wasn't going to work. Well not without major surgery, anyway. This way we should still avoid the duplicates…. #
  • @samjudson It got "interesting" when the same thing appeared three times (Flickr, Twitter, WordPress..). in reply to samjudson #
  • Ooops. @Tweetie slightly borked by #twitpocalypse, but only in functions I don't use. Still my preferred way to deal with #twitter. #
  • Another half-price gem – http://mobypicture.com/?954fkr #
  • Oh dear. I'm seriously contemplating getting an iPhone 3GS. It's not the perfect phone, but it might just be close enough. #

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