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Hearts and Bones – Paul Simon

Hearts and Bones

(1983), 8/10
Hearts and Bones was intended as Simon and Garfunkel’s reunion album, following their onstage reunion at Central Park and subsequent world tour, but it became a solo effort after Garfunkel failed to complete his vocals on time. It’s difficult to imagine Hearts and Bones as an appropriate vehicle for the duo, as few of the songs seem like suitable material. Some are obviously highly personal to Simon; the “one and one half wandering Jews” in the title track is a reference to his brief marriage to actress Carrie Fisher (Princess Leia in Star Wars), while ‘Train In A Distance’ also deals with Simon’s first marriage. Famously, Hearts and Bones failed to crack the US Top 40, not reflective of its quality since it was Simon’s best solo record since Rhymin’ Simon. The title track, ‘Train In The Distance’ and ‘Rene and Georgette Magritte With Their Dog After The War’ are some of Simon’s best ever songs, while there’s also excellent album material like ‘Song About The Moon’ (a song about songwriting) and ‘Think Too Much (a).’ The problem is that these rub shoulders with toss-offs like the gimmicky ‘Cars are Cars’  and the lacklustre reprise of ‘Think Too Much (b)’. Hearts and Bones doesn’t start or end particularly well either; opener ‘Allergies’ is interesting but doesn’t quite fit, while ‘The Late Great Johnny Ace’ is interesting lyrically but dull musically. Seemingly random guests include disco guitarist Nile Rodgers, avante-garde composer Phillip Glass and saxophonist Mark Rivera, who contributes a memorable solo to the end of ‘Train in the Distance’. Despite its faults Hearts and Bones is an interesting and diverse album, and songs like ‘Train in the Distance’ and the title track make it all but essential for a Paul Simon fan.

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