Wednesday, 9 October 2013

Vinyl Feature: Simon and Garfunkel - The Concert in Central Park

Back in 1982 I was in my final year of high school in my home town of Pretoria South Africa and had a drivers licence, a very laid back attitude towards life in general and towards studying for my final exams in particular. The year before Simon and Garfunkel had performed a free benefit concert in Central Park New York and I was eagerly awaiting the live album that had been promised by the media. When I finally purchased it sometime in 1982 it instantly became a firm favourite and would be played on many long hazy evenings together with friends in mostly very smoke laden environments with the smell of stale beer providing a special ambiance. It remained at the top of the playlist for several years until it was stolen along with my entire record collection one fateful night. (You can read about that by clicking here.)

Front Cover

Ever since then I have always wanted another copy, but the vinyl was never in stock anywhere in South Africa ever again. It became available on cd, but I somehow never had the compunction to purchase it in digital form. Just last week while lying in bed one morning I happened to be thinking about the old record collection and this album in particular and regretted never being able to find it in glorious black vinyl again.

Back Cover

However, I had some spare time before a meeting downtown today at around lunch time and decided to pop into a little second hand store just to have a look around and kill some time when lo and behold I unearthed a copy of Simon and Garfunkel's concert in Central Park! I was almost too nervous to check the state of the vinyl surface in case it was too scratched up to make it worth the 50 Krona price tag, but I checked... and besides being very dirty and dusty there was not a scratch in sight. Halleluja! Even the original souvenir booklet was there and in great condition.

12 Page Souvenir Booklet

The album was recorded on Saturday September 19th 1981 on the large central open space of Central Park in front of 500 000 people after only three weeks of (apparently tense) rehearsals. The recording of the concert was released five months later on February 16th 1982 and sold incredibly well worldwide with sales of close to 4 500 000 earning many Platinum and Gold sales in a variety of countries.

Inside the Gatefold Cover

After getting it home I carefully cleaned both the discs and actually got quite emotional when the first side fired up with the sounds of the crowd fading in and the mayor of New York, Ed Koch, announcing "Ladies and gentlemen, Simon and Garfunkel". It was like finding an old friend after a long absence! (The album, not Ed K.)

Track listing:

Side One
1. Mrs. Robinson
2. Homeward Bound
3. America
4. Me and Julio Down by the Schoolyard
5. Scarborough Fair

Side Two
1. April Come She Will
2. Wake Up Little Susie
3. Still Crazy After All These Years
4. American Tune
5. Late in the Evening

Side Three
1. Slip Slidin' Away
2. A Heart in New York
3. Kodachrome / Maybellene
4. Bridge Over Troubled Water

Side Four
1. Fifty Ways to Leave Your Lover
2. The Boxer
3. Old Friends
4. The 59th Street Bridge Song (Feelin' Groovy)
5. The Sound of Silence

On a final note, the album maintains the authentic sound of a live recording by not being over worked during post production but has enough good sound quality to be enjoyed for the musical content as well.

I am a very happy music listening chappy right now!

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