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What I’m Drinking To #3: Vinyl Review: Simon and Garfunkel – The Concert In Central Park

Sorry for the Christmas hiatus guys, it’s a very busy time for bartenders!

Happy New Year everyone, what I’ve been drinking to is the perfect cure for any January blues you may have gotten from the holiday hangover. It is none other than Geffen Records release of Simon and Garfunkel’s The Concert In Central Park on vinyl. Recorded live on September 19 1981 and found in mint condition complete with booklet for a mere £3 in a charity shop in Bath just after Christmas 2012 it seems like a perfect way to start 2013 with a smile on your face.

And you can’t try and hold back that smile from the moment a funkier than usual rendition of Mrs Robinson opens proceedings to rapturous applause from the crowd. Paul & Art’s vocals are brilliant as ever and in perfect unison with each other and the music despite personal tensions between the two at this point in history. The drums and bass in this live version really lift it and make you want to dance, they really opened this show with a bang, making sure if there was anyone in the half a million strong crowd lacking excitement before they came on, they were now. After Homeward Bound finishes, Paul Simon greets the audience by saying ‘Well, it’s great to do a neighbour hood concert’ and ironically thanks (among others) the then Mayor of New York Ed Koch who had planned to shut the park down due to cost reasons. (This concert is one of many that saved the park). The first side ends with such a beautifully sung version of Scarborough Fair it sends shivers down your spine.

The highlight of side two is the duo’s cover of The Everly Brothers’ Wake Up Little Susie, which rocks steady in such a way that Don and Phil themselves would be jealous of. Side three kicks off with Simon’s own composition Slip Slidin’ Away that the pair sing so well together it’s sad to think they ever stopped making music together. One thing to note about side three is that one song has been emitted from the actual live show. Between Art signing A Heart In New York and the Kodachrome/Mabelline Medley, Simon’s song The Late Great Johnny Ace was interrupted by a stage invader (you can see this on the video of the concert). It’s annoying its not there but the gap in between songs seems smooth on the vinyl with the usual crowd background noise filling it in to make it unnoticeable.

The final side of the record is absolutely brilliant. 50 Ways To Leave Your Lover really kicks off at the end with lots of funky bass, sax and organs before a truly perfect rendition of The Boxer to which I dare you not to sing along to during the ‘li la li’s’. The record ends with a simply awesome version of The Sound of Silence unlike the actual concert which ended with a reprise of Late In The Evening. Despite the two emissions, the vinyl release is simply wonderful and is just what a live record should be. If you can get a copy with the booklet, the photos inside are a really cool addition.

Now for the drink to match to this album. For this album there are three choices. The first is perfect if you’ve had a pretty ‘merry’ festive season. Just have a nice big cup of tea. Simon and Garfunkel is perfect tea drinking music and the combination of this album with a nice tea should start your New Year’s detox well! If you want to get closer to the people who were at the concert, we’re going to stick to beer, but have an affordable (but good) lager. Brooklyn Lager (5.2% abv) wouldn’t have been around at the time of the concert (the brewery opened in 1988) but is a really good raw, full flavoured American lager that matches really well. The other option for the discerning drinker is to have the Flemish classic, a ‘Picon Biere’. Take one shot (25ml) of the bitter-sweet French orange aperitif Picon Biere (18%) and add it too a small bottle of classic Belgian amber or blonde beer to bring it to life. Its a strong but really flavoursome drink that matches the more upbeat nature of the songs on this album. I went with Duvel (8.5%), but Leffe Blonde (6.6%) or Chimay Triple (8%) are great and not too pricey alternatives.

Imbibe responsibly and enjoy the tunes!

About The Author

Bartender and History & Politics graduate from West London, now residing in Bristol. Writes articles on matching drinks to albums across all media from golden oldies to the latest releases.

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