Surpriseby Paul Simon
There's never been any disputing Paul Simon's status as one of the rock era's great songwriters. But when it comes time to recording those songs, he's always been at his best when teamed with a foil, whether it be erstwhile partner Art Garfunkel or collaborators like Ladysmith Black Mambazo (who partnered with him on Graceland). Here, Simon calls upon a new teammate, one that, not to pun on the disc's title, comes as something of a surprise. Here, Simon has recruited producer Brian Eno, a master of ambient sound who's brought out new facets in just about everyone he's worked with, from U2 to David Bowie -- a streak he continues here. The graceful, introspective songs that Simon pulled together for Surprise are ideally suited for Eno's tinkering, ranging from the angular "Outrageous," which alternates whisper and scream sections with aplomb, to the ethereal "That's Me," a wisp of a tune that brings out the most poignant notes in Simon's voice. The singer has, for now at least, shelved his penchant for serving up aural comfort food. Instead, he brings some of his most challenging notions to the table, such as the lean, emotionally devastating lyrics of the gospel-tinged "Wartime Prayers" and the acerbic self-assessments of "Sure Don't Feel Like Love," which Eno wraps in a groove that somehow reconciles the diametrically opposed funk approaches of Bo Diddley and David Byrne. While there will certainly be some folks still pining for Simon to go another round with his old pal Art, those willing to take a chance will find that Simon's just as compelling when teamed with art of the small "a" variety.
- Release Date:
- Warner Bros / Wea
Performance CreditsPaul Simon Primary Artist,Acoustic Guitar,Electric Guitar,Vocals
Gil Goldstein Harmonium,Keyboards
Herbie Hancock Piano
Alex Al Bass
Brian Eno electronics
Bill Frisell Electric Guitar
Steve Gadd Drums
Jamey Haddad Percussion
Jessy Dixon Singers Vocals,Choir, Chorus
Abraham Laboriel Bass,Bass Guitar
Vincent Nguini Acoustic Guitar
Pino Palladino Bass,Bass Guitar
Robin Dimaggio Drums
Leo Abrahams Fretless Bass Guitar
Adriana Simon Vocals
Adrian Simon Vocals
Technical CreditsPaul Simon Composer,Producer,Audio Production
Brian Eno Composer,Sonic Environment
Charles Paakkari Engineer
Mike Peters Engineer
Tommy Willis Instrument Technician
Mike Burns Instrument Technician
Andy Smith Programming,Engineer
Jimmy Briggs Engineer
Jeffrey Kent Ayeroff Art Direction
Derek Moffat Engineer
Bryan Russell Engineer
Claudius Mittendorfer Engineer
Dan Gross Engineer
Dan Bucchi Engineer
Laurence Brazil Engineer
Chip Kidd Art Direction
Chris Testa Engineer,Instrument Technician
Bryan Smith Engineer
Marlon Weyeneth Instrument Technician
Zach McNees Engineer
Scrap Marshall Engineer
Ryan Simms Engineer
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
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I cannot wait for this CD. I cried just listening to the streamed "Wartime Prayers." What a genius ... the song and the songwriter.
ABSOLUTELY love the four songs
I have been a big fan of Paul Simon for many years. I anxiously awaited the new release. Some of the songs are a departure such as "How Can You Live in the Northeast". However, "Beautiful" has more of his world music style. Overall, I really enjoyed listing. I am glad he put in "Father and Daughter". Since I am the mother and I have son, when I sing it to him I will replace Father and Daughter with Mother and Son.
This album is truly a work of art. Paul Simon once again delivers songs that prove he is master of lyric, melody and sound and an artist not afraid explore and change. What a refreshing piece of work!
Harks back to "Hearts and Bones," which I love. More complex and hard-edged lyrically. Musically, it's got a softer edge, but it weaves a spell that can get past any cynic's guard. I really want to give it 4.5 stars.
Paul Simon's new album features the songwriter in a new light that freshens his music and his message. Brian Eno treats each song with the right amount of electronic soundscape poetry to envelope the listener's soul in a comfortable blanket while Simon's thoughtful wordscape poetry targets the emotional center of the intellect creating a delectable, nutritional blend that feeds both. Simon realizes that his poetry requires an updating to that which carries it to the listener. The drone and flatness that many reviewers notice IS that new carriage. Mixing the current technology of thumping sub-woofer and electronica with the gentle notes of acoustic guitar would be hard for the most creative of artists. However, Simon and Eno pull it off here as each artist obviously respects the other's area of talented expertise. On my high-end home and lesser-end car systems, the album sounds perfectly mixed. The Simon's vocals and guitar center while Eno's treatments cascade around the room. Moreover, the album reminds one at times of both artist's best works. One can hear strains of Eno's production on and contribution to the Talking Head's REMAIN IN LIGHT while at the same time bringing to mind Simon's best work on GRACELAND. This synthesis is exciting and original and should be listened to and accepted as the synthesis that it is the album sounds new/old, and I find that exciting. It seems as though I've always known these songs, and to me, that is a good thing. The album sounds friendly and wears like a comfortable shirt. At the same time, the synthesis makes me sad and nostalgic for the feelings of discovery these wonderful, talented men brought me when we were all younger and more open to new things. I miss those days of discovery however, SURPRISE offers a hint of the idealism lost in and on youth, and consequently, reopens the intellect with a tear or two, an anguished grunt over time lost, and hope for the future in one's children. Buy it and listen. SURPRISE is good for you.
I was in Barnes & Nobles browsing and I kept hearing this great CD every time I shopped in B&N, and that was really calming, and it had a very different sound/beat, when I asked the salesperson I was told that it's Paul S. new CD. So I picked up the CD today and I am really enjoying it. I highly recommend this CD, its great!!!! and you will definitely not be disappointed, I wasn't
Being a 50-something year old, Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel were a staple in my teen/young adult years. The Concert in Central Park became an instant favorite of mine when it came out, and I still play it. Recently, I've enjoyed Old Friends on Stage. This is the first album I've bought with just Paul Simon, preferring the nostalgic hits I knew so well. Hearing just one track online made me go right out and buy this cd! I love it! The songs are just edgy and thought provoking enough, the sounds new and spacey enough, and Paul still does what he always did--sings a great song.
Simon is quite possibly the most OVERRATED American singer/songwriter in history!! Always overly wordy, and always trying to appear much more intelligent than he probably is, Simon has created his success by using others' talents and never giving them the notoriety or the money he owed them! No where near as talented or important as he thinks he is.........an American fable, is Paul Simon being a talent.