Paul Simon's The Complete Album Collection is the New Music Pick of the Week

  |   Comments

Up until now my picks have been fairly easy to make.  There is almost always a stand-out that I want more than all the rest.  This week, however, has taken me a long time to decide.  That's kind of dumb, I know.  It isn't like when I make my pick someone sends it to me for free, or that I get my picture along with my pick gets hung up in Times Square or some such thing.  I mean it does get plastered onto this site and I am open to ridicule but we're not yet big enough for that to mean I need to change address after a particularly egregious choice.  

Still, I take this job seriously and I want to make the right choice, I want my pick to not embarrass me down the road. This week sees some pretty major releases from some pretty big artists, plus an expanded and remastered classic and this Paul Simon set which ultimately won out and became my pick.  

It was a tough choice, but the biggest, baddest most splashy set won my heart.  At least for this week anyhow.

Paul Simon needs no introduction, not really.  From his beautiful harmonies with Art Garfunkel in the 1960s to the African sounds of Graceland and beyond Simon has proved himself over and over and over again to be one of the greatest living songwriters the world over.  The new boxed set - Complete Album Collection gathers together all fourteen albums he's released as a solo artist, including the 1965 record The Paul Simon Songbook.  Each disk includes a few bonus tracks amounting to 37 new tracks in total.  Also there is a 56-page book full of photos and liner notes penned by Ashley Kahn.  

For reasons that are all but my own I only own a couple of Paul Simon records though I love him so.  I've heard them all many times and have MP3 copies of them but I'm excited to be able to get them all in one collection with bonus tracks to boot.  Which is why Paul Simon: The Complete Album Collection is my pick of the week.

Also out this week that looks interesting:

Unplugged: Expanded & Remastered - Eric Clapton:  The idea of taking big electrified rock songs and converting them to acoustic instruments is nothing new.  Artists have been doing that since the day after the electric guitar was invented, but MTV with their Unplugged show revolutionized the concept and brought bands and fans on board that would have never thought to go acoustic without them.  As a teenager I looked forward to each new show to see how my favorite artists (and some that weren't) would sound broken down and acoustic.  

Nirvana tends to get the bulk of good press for their, admittedly outstanding, performance on the show, but for me it is Eric Clapton's take that really stands out.  Surprisingly he only played a few of his songs relying mostly on old blues standards by guys like Big Bill Broonzy and Robert Johnson, but he turned them out and made them his own.  Making new fans of those old songs along the way.  The most stunning performance has got to be his take on Derek and the Dominos "Layla." Clapton played on the original of course, but here he's turned that searing, contrasting rock epic into a beautiful, lazy shuffle.

This new set features the original album, a second CD of outtakes, rehearsals and songs that didn't make the cut and there is a third disk, a DVD that contains the entirety of the original broadcast on MTV plus more than an hour of footage from the rehearsals.

New - Paul McCartney:  Macca's first new record in six years was produced by Marc Ronson, Paul Epworth, Giles Martin and Ethan Johns.  

Lightning Bolt - Pearl Jam:  Time and time over Pearl Jam have proved they are more than just second fiddle to Nirvana or old school grungers.   For more than two decades they have been making great rock records that are uniquely there own.  I'm not their biggest fan, but they rarely disappoint.

To All the Girls... - Willie Nelson:  The elder statesman of country music's new album features duets with a bevy of lovely ladies ranging from Dolly Parton, Loretta Lynn and Mavis Staples to Miranda Lambert, Alison Krauss, Norah Jones and more.

Magpie and the Dandelion - The Avett Brothers:  Recorded during the same sessions as last year's the Carpetner, and therefore also produced by Rick Rubin, Magpie holds 11 new songs by the alt-folk rockers.

GarciaLive Volume Three: December 14-15, 1974 Northwest Tour - Legion of Mary:  For a couple of years Jerry Garcia and Merle Saunders and others toured around the country while the Grateful Dead were "retired."  They called themselves the Legion of Mary and made some really great rock and roll mixed with R&B, jazz, blues and gospel.  This three disk set contains but 13 songs which should tell you that much like the Dead, these boys liked to jam.

New Constellation - Toad the Wet Sprocket:  The alt-rockers release their first album since 1997.