Quick Review (LP): So Beautiful or So What by Paul Simon

Paul Simon
So Beautiful or So What
Hear Music; 2011

My Rating: B (68/100)

Best Tracks: "The Afterlife", "Dazzling Blue", "Love Is Eternal Sacred Light"

A love and judgment humdinger.

NOTES

  • Dangit, are my headphones busted again? (“Getting’ Ready…”)
  • So between this and Graceland, I don’t really know what Paul has been up to, but “Dazzling Blue” sounds a lot like it could have been on his 1986 masterpiece, and that’s a good thing.
  • "You got to fill out a form first/And then you wait in a line…"
  • As upbeat as the music sounds, the subject matter on this record appears pretty haunting.
  • I’m thinking that maybe this record is a sequel of sorts to Graceland, both in theme and in instrumentation.
  • Simon’s lyrics are, for the most part, great (as usual).
  • I’m thinking this is a very worthwhile album. It begs for deeper interaction.
  • There are some strong moments here, but Simon’s tendancy to get sing-songy can be a little too distracting. Unfortunately, anything that comes close to greatness is marred by a sort of Sting-ish jazz styling or a song-and-dance showiness. For that reason, you won’t find any moments so brilliant as a "Graceland" or as full of exuberant joy as a "Mother and Child Reunion."
  • The Pitchfork review of this album is really good and exceptionally well written.

ATTRIBUTES
Cohesion (5/5)
Concept (5/5)
Consequence (4/5)
Consistency (3/5)
Songs (4/5)

The Police: Zenyatta Mondatta (1980)

The Police
Zenyatta Mondatta; 1980
A&M Records
My Rating: 90/100
Progatta masters of the creepy smash hit, The Police kick off their third and greatest album with an absolute classic. It’s also their darkest. The best Sting can seem to make of a hopeless world on this incredibly pessimistic-but-you-wouldn’t-know-it-for-the-music  masterpiece consists of humming a wordless little ditty to himself round about track seven. Moods included, the Police get it right from start to finish on Zenyatta. There’s no excess. There’s no meaningless excursions. In fact, there’s not even a cringe-worthy moment contained herein. Instead, there’s a completely unique blend of rock, prog and reggae filtered through the smooth jazz sensibilities of a former British school teacher. What seems to turn others off about this record keeps me coming back. The lean start and stop of “Driven to Tears”, the propulsive funk-lite of “When the World…”, the bouncy, catchy proto-ska of “Man in a Suitcase” – what’s not to love? To put a nice bow it all, you’ve got weird but engaging excursions like “Voices Inside My Head”, “Shadows in the Rain”, and “The Other Way of Stopping.” The Police made some great records, but they never managed to tie an album together so well. Bonus points for Andy Summers’ ethereal guitars, hands down my favorite thing about this record.
Cohesion (5/5)
Concept (4.5/5)
Consequence (4.5/5)
Consistency (5/5)
Tracks:
1. Don’t Stand So Close To Me (5/5)
2. Driven to Tears (5/5)
3. When the World is Running Down, You Make the Best of What’s Still Around (5/5)
4. Canary in a Coalmine (5/5)
5. Voices Inside My Head (5/5)
6. Bombs Away (4.5/5)
7. De Do Do Do, De Da Da Da (5/5)
8. Behind My Camel (4/5)
9. Man in a Suitcase (5/5)
10. Shadows in the Rain (4/5)
11. The Other Way of Stopping (4.5/5)

Police-album-zenyattamondattaThe Police
Zenyatta Mondatta; 1980
A&M Records

My Rating: 90/100

Classic rock masters of the creepy smash hit, The Police lead off their third long player with the indelible “Don’t Stand So Close to Me.” This is their greatest album; it’s also their darkest. The best Sting can seem to make of a hopeless world on this incredibly pessimistic-but-you-wouldn’t-know-it-for-the-music  masterpiece consists of humming a wordless little ditty to himself round about track seven. Moods included, the Police get it right from start to finish. There’s no excess. There’s no meaningless excursions. In fact, there’s not even a cringe-worthy moment contained herein. Instead, there’s a completely unique blend of rock, prog and reggae filtered through the smooth jazz sensibilities of a former British school teacher. What seems to turn others off about this record keeps me coming back. The lean start and stop of “Driven to Tears”, the propulsive funk-lite of “When the World…”, the bouncy, catchy proto-ska of “Man in a Suitcase” – what’s not to love? To put a nice bow it all, you’ve got weird but engaging excursions like “Voices Inside My Head”, “Shadows in the Rain”, and “The Other Way of Stopping.” The Police made some great records, but they never managed to tie an album together so well. Bonus points for Andy Summers’ ethereal guitars, hands down my favorite thing about this record.

Cohesion (5/5)
Concept (4.5/5)
Consequence (4.5/5)
Consistency (5/5)

Tracks:

1. Don’t Stand So Close To Me (5/5)
2. Driven to Tears (5/5)
3. When the World is Running Down, You Make the Best of What’s Still Around (5/5)
4. Canary in a Coalmine (5/5)
5. Voices Inside My Head (5/5)
6. Bombs Away (4.5/5)
7. De Do Do Do, De Da Da Da (5/5)
8. Behind My Camel (4/5)
9. Man in a Suitcase (5/5)
10. Shadows in the Rain (4/5)
11. The Other Way of Stopping (4.5/5)