After the commercial failure of the first Simon & Garfunkel album, Wednesday Morning, 3AM, Paul Simon retreated to England to play theatres and folk clubs. It was there with just a microphone and acoustic guitar that Simon recorded the tracks that would form The Paul Simon Songbook. The album combines tracks from the S&G debut and others that would appear on future releases.
Classic tracks that appear is the first recording of the effective young man angst “I Am a Rock”, a version of “The Sound of Silence” where Simon practically spits out the first lines and a beautiful rendition of “Kathy’s Song”. Other highlights include the Billy Bragg inspiration in “Leaves That Are Green” and vocal charm of “April She Will Come”. The unfortunate Dylan parody of “A Simple Desultory Philippic…” is dreadful but is redeemed by the lyrical wordplay of “Flowers Never Bend With The Rainfall”
The sound of the album can be brittle and stark at times, a lone performer sitting on a stool with just a white spotlight upon them. There is little warmth or texture but Simon is in fine vocal form singing songs from the heart. This is an essential recording as Paul Simon finds his voice and performs tracks that would become beloved the world over in just a few short years.