In 1986, Paul Simon released his album Graceland
to great acclaim. It was a record on which Simon melded the music of South Africa with his own brand of melodic, literate songwriting. The end result was different from much of the music we had heard before and it worked magnificently well. It was a hit not only because of the radio staple “You Can Call Me Al” but because it helped make the music of Africa accessible to those who would never think to listen to it. Musicians such as Ladysmith Black Mambazo were featured on the record, and listeners were made aware of the rich cultural contributions of artists such as these.
Now, 25 years later, the album has been reissued in two ways. Depending on your level of interest, you may opt for the less expensive one. Either way, you’ll learn much about this remarkable landmark recording.
The Graceland 25th Anniversary Edition
CD/DVD set offers the remastered Graceland
CD plus bonus tracks. Three of those tracks were included on the 2004 remaster of the disc and three others, demos of “You Can Call Me Al” and “Crazy Love”, and "The Story of 'Graceland'-As Told By Paul Simon" (a 9 minute track on which Simon discusses the title track of the album), are exclusive to the 25th anniversary releases.
The Graceland 25th Anniversary Edition Collector’s Edition Box Set
, the 2 CD/2 DVD collection, includes all the material on the CD/DVD set plus a book of new and archival photographs, new interviews with Simon, and the complete Graceland
story. Also included is a book of facsimile reproductions of Simon’s handwritten lyrics for the album, and a DVD of Graceland: The African Concert
, which is released here on DVD for the first time.
If the fancy extras don’t thrill you, you might be wondering why you should shell out cash for music you’ve heard and probably already own. Possibly the best reason to buy either of these packages is the DVD Under African Skies,
a documentary by Joe Berlinger on the making of Graceland
and how it impacted our culture. In the film, Simon travels back to South Africa a quarter century after the album’s release and revisits the making of the record, taking into account the controversy surrounding the album’s beginnings. It also reaches into the past to feature footage shot at the recording sessions as well as interviews with those involved in the album's creation.
When an artist of Paul Simon’s caliber delves into the history of his work, it is almost always fascinating. The fact that both artist and record company put the extra effort in to making these reissues special will most likely be appreciated by Graceland
fans even if many of them will be buying the core material for the third or fourth time.