Recorded in 1969 but not seeing a full release until 2009, Simon and Garfunkel’s Live 1969 captures the duo just before the release of their last album, Bridge Over Troubled Water. About a third of the tracks were also included on the Live 1967 release including another spellbinding take on “For Emily, Whenever I May Find Her” that later appeared on their Greatest Hits collection that also included the live version of “Kathy’s Song” but cuts out the raucous audience before launching into the track.
Unlike the 1967 Live release that captures just one night, 1969 takes in several locations and includes a crack band of hired hands to augment the duo but never overshadow. The band is most heard during the smash hit “Mrs. Robinson” and Hal Blaine’s subtle drumming adds an extra layer to “The Boxer”. “Scarborough Fair/Canticle” is a track that lets Garfunkel shine with Simon adding the minimalist of acoustic guitar and additional vocals.
The centrepiece of the album is, “Bridge Over Troubled Water”. Garfunkel introduces the yet to be released track over a piano introduction to no crowd applause whatsoever. What follows is a stunning rendition of one of the most popular tracks of the early 1970s. The version manages to make the arm hairs stand on end over 50 years later. After the last note sounds, the crowd recognizes that they’ve just heard a song that will be in their lives forever and proceeds to give a thunderous ovation.
The album also includes earlier hits such as “I Am a Rock” and #1 hit “The Sound of Silence”. Both are fine renditions but the 1967 version gets the nod for being the fresher sounding. Even though it’s just two years later, the duo sound wearier on a tour that proves to be one of their last as Simon & Garfunkel for 20+ years. Capturing the band about to release their next classic album, Live 1969 is a must have sound document for those wanting to catch some of the last moments of this classic folk rock duo at the tail end of the 60s.