London Times , June 8 1973
Power and Mysticism
Paul Simon - Albert Hall
Not content with having helped to illuminate the pop world of the 1960s as the partner or Arthur Garfunkel, Paul Simon on his own seems equally intent on making more music history in this decade.
At last night´s first of two Albert Hall concerts, Mr Simon captivated his audience - alone with his guitar. But his triumph was augmented by a Latin-
American quartet Urubamba and the Jessy Dixon Singers a hard-gospel quintet that nearly had ,the 5,000 parishioners chanting ´right on´.
Simon has always had an incredible fluency, vocally, on guitar, and as melodist and lyricist. In the middle 1960s Simon and Garfunkel rode waves of the topical protest tide, as they had earlier ridden the waves of high school pop. Then with a string of hits like ´Sound of Silence.´ and ´I am a Rock´ they began to make waves of their own.
For a time then, Simon´s writing was almost too facile, too slick to be believable. But on the evidence of his latest recording. and .this concert
there goes ´Rhymin´ Simon´ in new directions.
He is infatuated with West Indian reggae rhythmic thrust. He is aware of the power and majesty of black gospel and of the mountain-top mysticism of
Peruvian pipes. He is in touch with. the Curtis´ Mayfield whispering soul style that rivets attention with its restrained intensity.
To all these genres, Simon affixes his personal stamp as singer and writer secure enough to say: ´This is where it came from and that´s where I´m going with it.´ That kind of growth and development is all too rare.
In the reggae vein, he did ´Me and Julio´, ´Was a Sunny Day´ and ´Cecilia´. In a wistful commentary on one nation´s malaise he offered ´American Tune´.
On love ´Something So Right´, and on loneliness ´Homeward Bound´. New and old numbers rained in succession.
The South American and the gospel groups either backed Mr Simon or took off on their own tracks. They were such excellent novelties, of such virtuosity and depth, that one cannot praise the host enough for his good taste in inviting such guests. Paul Simon used to say that he did not like to teach with his music, yet he undeniably expanded the horizons of many listeners in the finest possible way - through the fresh appeal of art.
By Robert Shelton