The sixties wunderkind and one-half of Simon and Garfunkel had greeted the 1980s uneasily. The film One-Trick Pony, for which he served as writer, star and composer in 1980, was tepidly-received. An underperforming LP (Hearts and Bones) followed in 1983, his first solo album since 1965 not to hit the Billboard Top 10. It peaked at No. 35. Simon’s biggest success of the first half of the decade was a headline-making reunion concert with his old friend Art. As 1986 opened, Simon was barely 45 years old…how terribly strange. And he had much, much more to say. It took a trip to South Africa to recharge Paul Simon’s batteries. In the rich musical tapestry of that country, the singer/songwriter reconnected with his own roots, creating what may be his most enduring solo musical statement.
The original multi-platinum album, with sales of 14+ million copies, picked up Grammy Awards for Album of the Year (in 1987) and Song of the Year for the title track (in 1988). “You Can Call Me Al” dominated radio airplay and its music video made Simon a familiar face to the MTV generation. Simon was able to synthesize the street-corner symphonies of his youth (early influences The Everly Brothers even guest on the title song!) with an ethnic sound foreign to many American listeners’ ears, and still spin commercial gold without sacrificing authenticity. Last year, we reported on plans for a deluxe box set commemorating Graceland, as well as director Joe Berlinger’s documentary about the seminal album. Now it can be revealed that a panoply of Graceland 25th Anniversary editions will arrive from Legacy Recordings on June 5.
Paul Simon’s pilgrimage to South Africa wasn’t without controversy. Though Simon collaborated with many of the country’s finest musicians, a number of international observers chastised his decision to break the United Nations’ cultural boycott on the country, imposed because of its practice of apartheid. 25 years after Simon’s first visit, he returned to South Africa with filmmaker Joe Berlinger, and performed in front of a small audience with performers like Ladysmith Black Mambazo and Hugh Masekela. Berlinger’s resulting documentary film Under African Skies has garnered considerable acclaim at SXSW 2012, the Santa Barbara International Film Festival and the Sundance Film Festival. Even as it continues on the festival circuit, the film will play limited theatrical engagement in New York and Los Angeles beginning May 11th. The documentary chronicles Simon’s journey making the album as well as his trip back and the concert. It includes interviews with anti-apartheid activists as well as musical figures such as Quincy Jones, Harry Belafonte, Paul McCartney, David Byrne and Peter Gabriel.
Under African Skies is just one part of the ongoing Graceland celebration slated for 2012. The joyful and provocative Graceland was quietly reissued in a remastered edition in 2011 alongside the Songwriter anthology, a 2-CD set personally curated by Simon. Graceland will soon get the full deluxe treatment, however. It will arrive from Legacy on June 5 as a 2-CD/2-DVD box set, a CD/DVD set, a vinyl edition and limited edition bundle. The documentary will be available as an individual Blu-Ray disc, as well.
Graceland marked the crossroads of classic American pop and explosive world music. Hit the jump for the full details on each of its 25th anniversary editions including track listings and pre-order links!
Graceland 25th Anniversary Collector’s Edition Box Set (2-CD/2-DVD) – This 2-CD/2-DVD set includes the remastered original album on its first disc, and a second disc containing six bonus tracks including the audio narrative The Story of Graceland as narrated by Simon. (Yes, all of the bonus tracks contained on the previous Rhino and Legacy editions have been retained.) Across two DVDs, you’ll find the Under African Skies documentary film with extended interviews, the original 1987 African Concert from Zimbabwe, three vintage music videos and Simon’s Saturday Night Live performance of “Diamonds on the Soles of Her Shoes.” The box set also boasts replicas of an original Graceland poster and handwritten lyrics pad, plus an 80-page book filled with photos and interviews with the artist. An Amazon-exclusive edition will include a bonus CD of five live tracks from the 1989 Graceland/Rhythm of the Saints tour, recorded in San Sebastian, Spain.
Graceland 25th Anniversary Edition CD/DVD – This CD/DVD set includes the remastered original album with five bonus tracks and the audio documentary on the CD, and the Under African Skies film on the DVD plus bonus features, three original music videos and Saturday Night Live performance of “Diamonds on the Soles of Her Shoes.”
Under African Skies Blu-ray Disc – Here’s Joe Berlinger’s documentary in the resolution only Blu-Ray can deliver, plus 5.1 audio and bonus features.
Graceland 25th Anniversary Edition Vinyl – This audiophile edition is remastered on 180-gram 12″ vinyl and includes a Graceland poster and a download card with the full album plus three bonus tracks. It will first become available beginning Saturday, April 21 via independent retailers participating in the Record Store Day festivities.
Ultra-deluxe Graceland 25th Anniversary Edition Box Set package – This “ultimate Graceland set” includes the boxed set, the 180-gram 12″ vinyl and a signed and numbered autographed commemorative poster. It will be exclusively offered through PaulSimon.com.
All titles arrive from Legacy Recordings on June 5 with the exception of the vinyl which drops on April 21.
Paul Simon, Graceland: 25th Anniversary Edition Box Set (Legacy Recordings, 2012)
CD 1: The Original Album (available on all editions)
- The Boy in the Bubble
- I Know What I Know
- Diamonds on the Soles of Her Shoes
- You Can Call Me Al
- Under African Skies
- Crazy Love, Vol. II
- That Was Your Mother
- All Around the World, Or the Myth of Fingerprints
CD 2: Bonus Material (these tracks also available on CD/DVD set)
- Homeless (Demo)
- Diamonds on the Soles of Her Shoes (Alternate Version)
- All Around the World, or the Myth of Fingerprints (Early Version)
- You Can Call Me Al (Demo)
- Crazy Love (Demo)
- The Story of Graceland as told by Paul Simon
Tracks will include:
- Gumboots/Whispering Bells
- Crazy Love I & II
- I Know What I Know
- Under African Skies (documentary film)
CD 1 originally released as Warner Bros. LP W1-25447, 1986
CD 2, Tracks 1-3 originally released on Warner Bros./Rhino CD R2 78904, 2004
CD 2, Tracks 4-6 previously unreleased