Paul Simon's Concert in the Park

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Paul Simon's Concert in the Park
SimonConcert.jpg
Live album by
ReleasedNovember 5, 1991
RecordedAugust 15, 1991
GenrePop rock, folk rock, worldbeat
Length117.22
LabelWarner Bros.
ProducerJanis Wenk
Paul Simon chronology
The Rhythm of the Saints
(1990)
Paul Simon's Concert in the Park
(1991)
Songs from The Capeman
(1997)

Paul Simon's Concert in the Park is a live album and concert film recorded by Paul Simon as part of his 1991-2 "Born at the Right Time" Tour, with an extensive live backing band comprising top studio and touring musicians as well as a guest appearance at the start by the Brazilian percussion group Olodum. The concert took place in Central Park, New York City on August 15, 1991 and was broadcast live on the HBO television network as well as being recorded for audio and video release.

Recording plus initial and subsequent release details[edit]

Paul Simon's Concert in the Park was recorded during Simon's worldwide 1991-2 "Born at the Right Time" Tour[1] and provided a survey of his two most recent albums, Graceland and Rhythm of the Saints, and also drew liberally from his earlier songbook including a number of tunes from the Simon and Garfunkel era. 600,000 people were initially claimed to have attended the show, which was held in New York's Central Park on August 15, 1991.[2] Later estimates determined that the maximum number of people who could fit in the park space was 48,500.[3] The concert was similar to The Concert in Central Park, a reunion concert for Simon and Garfunkel held ten years earlier. The concert was broadcast live on TV on the HBO channel and was reportedly recorded live through 96 microphone channels and 20 discrete stage mixers.[4] It was then released, with minor track differences, on audio as double live-album (LP), double CD, and audiocassette, and on video as a VHS tape and Laserdisc. A DVD release was not made for many years due to contractual difficulties but finally appeared in 2018.

Reception[edit]

On its release, the audio version of the album reached only a "disappointing" no. 60 and stayed in the charts for just one week. However, critical reaction was good; writing in 1997, Chris Charlesworth states:

From the snap crackle and pop of the drum fanfare to the mellifluous beauty of the loveliest version of 'Sounds of Silence' you'll find anywhere, Paul Simon's Concert in the Park is the (double) album to own if you want only one Paul Simon album on your shelf ... [Simon's] meticulous attention to detail shines out in the re-arrangements of every song.[5]

On AllMusic, William Ruhlmann gives the album four stars (8/10) and writes:

Simon made such stylistically various material work together by front-loading the set with the newer stuff and rearranging some of the older solo stuff, so that "Kodachrome," for example, was refitted with a guitar line courtesy of Graceland player Ray Phiri ... Simon also toned down the Brazilian percussion that had dominated the Saints material and sang it more convincingly, so that "Born at the Right Time," for example, was far more effective than it had been in its studio version. On the whole, then, Concert in the Park managed to be an enjoyable and surprisingly cohesive career summary.[6]

For reasons not stated, the frequently outspoken rock critic Robert Christgau rated the album a dud, an opinion not shared, however, by (for example) customers on Amazon.com, 83% of whom gave the audio album the maximum 5-star rating, with 77% awarding 5 stars to the VHS video release.[7][8]

Professional ratings
Review scores
SourceRating
Allmusic4/5 stars link
Robert Christgau(dud)[9]

Track listing[edit]

Disc 1[edit]

  1. "The Obvious Child"
  2. "The Boy in the Bubble"
  3. "She Moves On"
  4. "Kodachrome"
  5. "Born at the Right Time"
  6. "Train in the Distance"
  7. "Me and Julio Down by the Schoolyard"
  8. "I Know What I Know"
  9. "The Cool, Cool River"
  10. "Bridge over Troubled Water"
  11. "Proof"

Disc 2[edit]

  1. "The Coast"
  2. "Graceland"
  3. "You Can Call Me Al"
  4. "Still Crazy After All These Years"
  5. "Loves Me Like a Rock"
  6. "Diamonds on the Soles of Her Shoes"
  7. "Hearts and Bones"
  8. "Late in the Evening"
  9. "America"
  10. "The Boxer"
  11. "Cecilia"
  12. "The Sound of Silence"

The band[edit]

Special Guests: Briz and Grupo Cultural OLODUM for "The Obvious Child" and Chevy Chase join Paul, dancing for the second of two performances of "You Can Call Me Al".

Formats[edit]

This title was released in both audio and video formats.

  • As a double live-album, it was released on CD, cassette and vinyl LP.
  • Both VHS and Laserdisc formats were released with "Cecilia" omitted from the VHS and both "Cecilia" and "The Coast" omitted from the Laserdisc.

In July 2011 a Facebook campaign [10] was started to request a release of the concert on DVD and Blu-ray. It was released on DVD in 2018 through PBS membership rewards.[11] The long delay could be due to the contract with Pioneer that restricted the re-issue of concerts by artists signed to Warner on any future format.

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Born at the Right Time Tour". www.paul-simon.info. Retrieved 15 January 2019.
  2. ^ Dwyer, Jim (July 23, 2008). "Great Lawn: A Bubble of History Bursts". New York Times.
  3. ^ Giles, Jeff. "The Story of Paul Simon's Massive Central Park Concert". Ultimate Classic Rock. Retrieved 8 August 2017.
  4. ^ BPI Communications Inc. "ALBUM, VIDEO OF PAUL SIMON CONCERT EXPECTED". www.chicagotribune.com. Retrieved 15 January 2019.
  5. ^ Chris Charlesworth: The Complete Guide to the Music of Paul Simon and Simon & Garfunkel. Omnibus Press, London/New York/Sydney, 1997. ISBN: 0711955972
  6. ^ Ruhlmann, William. "Paul Simon: Concert in the Park: AllMusic Review". www.allmusic.com. Retrieved 15 January 2019.
  7. ^ "Paul Simon's Concert in the Park: Customer Reviews". www.amazon.com. Retrieved 15 January 2019.
  8. ^ "Paul Simon: Concert In The Park: August 15th, 1991 VHS: Customer Reviews". www.amazon.com. Retrieved 15 January 2019.
  9. ^ Christgau, Robert. "Paul Simon". Robert Christgau.
  10. ^ Bodo (July 23, 2011). "Facebook campaign". www.paul-simon.info.
  11. ^ "Paul Simon's Concert In The Park DVD". pbs.org. Retrieved January 15, 2019.