Box Sets Worth Owning Part II: Simon & Garfunkel The Complete Columbia Albums Collection

 

The Complete Columbia Albums Collection

I have liked Simon and Garfunkel since I first heard them. They have great songs and great lyrics. Throughout the sixties, they were a mainstay of American music. I was disappointed but not surprised when they parted ways for solo careers in 1970. Paul Simon went on to make many great albums, but the only Art Garfunkel Album that I liked was Angel Clare

I really think they were groundbreaking work was in the studio. Think of the song “The Boxer,” where they laid down track after track as the song continued to build in intensity.  If you really love Simon and Garfunkel, you can still find copies of this wonderful box set. The problem with buying used Simon and Garfunkel LPs is that most copies I have found have been played to death.

This Complete Columbia Albums Collection boxed set has six LPs that includes five studio albums and their best-selling  Greatest Hits LP released in 1972 that has ten studio tracks and four unreleased live recordings. The records were mastered by Ryan K. Smith at Sterling Sound and pressed at RTI on 180g vinyl. The box also includes a full-sized booklet containing photos and interesting annotations.  There is also a nice fold-out poster of the famous photo of S&G taken at the 53rd Street Subway Stop that was the cover of their first album.

Wednesday Morning, 3AM 

This was their debut album for Columbia, and it was released in 1964. It has a  somewhat softer and more mellifluous touch than what many of the folk singer and groups that influenced them. While side one has some nice songs, when people who bought this album when it was first released got to “Sounds of Silence” at the end of side one, they must have  thought that these folk singers were pretty good. It is said that Paul Simon was inspired by the Kennedy assassination to write this song. Even with this great song, the album wasn’t a big seller.

While this first album gets the box set off to a very good start, it is not quite as  transparent and alive sounding as some of the other albums, but the sound is very enjoyable,

Sounds of Silence

With the success of the “Sounds of Silence” as a single, they decided it should be the name of their second album. The album opens with an electric version of this song.This album was hugely popular with college students when it came out in 1966. I have a very early copy of this LP, and the sound of this reissue is very close to the sound of the early LP but much quieter.

Parsley, Sage, Rosemary, and Thyme

I discovered lots of new music when I move away from hone to attend a college-prep boarding school. My friends and I We listened mostly to the British rock bands and the psychedelic bands. I discovered the third Simon and Garfunkel album was produced Bob Johnston and engineer Roy Halee. They mostly used songs Simon wrote while in England that had appeared on his solo album. Most of the album marks a return to mostly acoustic arrangements like their debut album.

With Parsley, Sage, Rosemary, and Thyme, Simon and Garfunkel brought out an album that spoke to those of us who were young in the seventies. It amazed me at the time that an album that was so different from the psychedelic rock we were listening to spoke so strongly to all of us. Overall, the sound is good enough not to distract from the great music.

Bookends 

As much an I liked Parsley, Sage, Rosemary, and Thyme, I was blown away by Bookends. This was a concept album that explored life as a journey from childhood to old age and then death. The music is very emotionally moving and performed masterfully. It has been one of my favorite albums for years.

Bridge Over Troubled Water

This was my least favorite Simon & Garfunkel album, but it has on it one of my favorite recordings from the duo. “The Boxer” was an epic recording required a live mix down from 16 tracks to 2 tracks. To do this, they used two synched 8-track recorders. The song is haunting powerful and moves me with deep feelings every time I hear it. It builds and builds upon itself somewhat like Ravel’s “Bolero”.

In the 90s, Classic Records reissued “Bridge Over Troubled Water” at both 33 1/3 rpm and multi-disc single-sided 45 rpm. Many were skeptical because they were concerned that the original master was not in good condition. To me, the Classic reissue sounds superb, and especially the at 45 rpm one. By comparison, the reissue in the box set sounds a little more two-dimensional and forward. Still, it sounds a lot better than any of the ones I’ve picked up used over the years

Simon and Garfunkel’s Greatest Hits

I normally don’t like “Best Of” albums because most of them sound poor. This is not the case with this album. It sounds superb and strings together so many great songs on one album. It also contains really well-recorded live versions of four of their songs. This is one of my favorite Simon & Garfunkel albums.

Conclusion

You can get this very nice box set for around $120. The set includes the five studio albums plus the greatest hits LP and the digital downloads. The box set is also well annotated and comes with a very nice booklet and a poster. This is an easy recommendation, especially given the going price.

If you have really clean, mint originals, they are a little better in transparency, imaging, three-dimensionality and spaciousness. As I have said, though, these reissues come awfully close in most ways. If you’re like me and really like box sets, you can do what I did with this set, the Cash American Recordings box set and others. I compare the LPs I already have with the reissues. Then, I pick and choose to make up the best box set. Anyway, this is a box set worth owning.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


By submitting this form, you are granting: The Audio Beatnik, 5364 Myrtle Drive, Concord, CA, 94521, permission to email you. You may unsubscribe via the link found at the bottom of every email. (See our Email Privacy Policy (http://constantcontact.com/legal/privacy-statement) for details.) Emails are serviced by Constant Contact.