Parsley, Sage, Rosemary and Thyme

(1966), 7.5/10
For the first time Simon and Garfunkel achieved a lush and detailed sound, and sonically Parsley is a huge leap from their first two records. But lyrically, Paul Simon is still finding his feet – he often veers into pretentiousness; ‘The Dangling Conversation’ in particular features awkward lyrics like “And you read your Emily Dickinson/And I my Robert Frost/And we note our place with bookmarkers/That measure what we’ve lost,” ‘Poem on a Underground Wall’ over-dramatises a piece of subway graffiti, while ‘A Simple Desultory Phillipic’ is an awkward sub-Dylan political commentary. Apart from the sometimes misguided lyrics, Parsley, Sage, Rosemary and Thyme cements Simon and Garfunkel as pop-folk craftsmen – while they’re still a folk duo, they’re able to add touches of pop, jazz, and even psychedelic rock (‘Big Green Pleasure Machine’) to their palette. ‘Scarborough Fair/Canticle’ reworks a traditional song with Simon’s ‘Side of the Hill’ with lovely results, ’59th Street Bridge Song’ uses Dave Brubeck’s rhythm section, while ‘Homeward Bound’ is simultaneously mournful and propulsive. While Simon’s lyric writing is sometimes awkward, Parsley, Sage, Rosemary and Thyme is the first Simon and Garfunkel album that feels fully realised.

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