Rolling Stone (4/15/04, p.152) - 3 stars out of 5 - "Tracks to treasure are 'Kathy's Song' and 'Leaves That Are Green,' both even more wistful than the duo's versions."
Entertainment Weekly (4/2/04, p.66) - "Imagine early S&G tunes without G: That's the essence of this unearthed '65 solo album." - Rating: B
Uncut (5/04, p.109) - 3 stars out of 5 - "When he murmurs in that weary, calmly melancholy way of his, he sounds like nothing less than the proverbial prophet quietly writing on the subway walls."
Dirty Linen (p.58) - "[A]s an alternate window into his talent and state of mind at the time, this is a fascinating and enjoyable listen."
Mojo (Publisher) (p.116) - 3 stars out of 5 - "[F]ans of either the songwriter or the duo will find these skeletal prototypes at the very least interesting, and at the most entertainingly fascinating."
Solo performer: Paul Simon (vocals, acoustic guitar).
Producers: Reginald Warburton, Stanley West.
Recorded between June and July 1965. Includes liner notes by Paul Simon and Judith Piepe.
What a difference a year makes. After Simon & Garfunkel's 1964 debut album failed to set the world afire, Paul Simon moved to England, where he fell in with the London folk crowd and released his first solo album. In '65, while Simon was busy working as a solo acoustic artist, producer Tom Wilson was rearranging the acoustic version of S&G's "The Sound of Silence" with a full electric band, sparking the duo's breakthrough. Consequently, most of THE PAUL SIMON SONGBOOK would turn up in fleshed-out, folk-rock form as Simon & Garfunkel's '66 smash album SOUNDS OF SILENCE.
It's fascinating to hear the likes of "I Am a Rock," "Flowers Never Bend with the Rainfall," and, of course, the aforementioned ode to alienation with neither the familiar Garfunkel harmonies nor band accompaniment. The stark acoustic settings spotlight the 23-year-old Simon's early poetic songwriting and pure tenor voice, full of youthful earnestness. Simon & Garfunkel fans will also be tantalized by the presence of a couple of songs that never made SOUNDS OF SILENCE, which fall on the social-protest side, and a radically different--arguably better--version of the Dylan satire "A Simple Desultory Philippic."