With “Bridge Over Troubled Water” and Jimmy Webb’s “All I Know” opening Art Garfunkel’s two-disc retrospective, The Singer, we are quickly reminded of how amazing the man’s voice is. The tenor of Simon and Garfunkel, Grammy winner Garfunkel has produced several solo albums and struck up a collaboration with songwriter Jimmy Webb. Along the way, he’s had some great duets with his contemporaries, amassed a few minor hits of his own, and made an impressive mark as an actor in films like Catch-22 and Carnal Knowledge.
The Singer covers a lot of ground. There’s Garfunkel soaring high over Paul Simon’s guitar on “For Emily, Whenever I May Find Her” from 1972’s Simon & Garfunkel’s Greatest Hits. Simon and James Taylor join Garfunkel for a rendition of Sam Cooke’s “What A Wonderful World.” We get Nicky Hopkins playing a Rhodes piano on a competent cover of “I Only Have Eyes For You,” a No. 1 hit in England for Garfunkel in 1975. With its orchestration, “The Promise” is probably the most intricate tune on this collection.
“Long Way Home,” previously unreleased, features Maia Sharp and is something a little different than what we would typically get from Garfunkel. “Scissors Cut” is another that includes the Rhodes, while “Breakaway” with Graham Nash and David Crosby sounds like something from Supertramp. “So Long Frank Lloyd Wright” is another Simon and Garfunkel tune, and a cover of the Beach Boys “Disney Girls” has the song’s composer Bruce Johnston on piano and Toni Tenille on backing vocals.
A very pretty “O Come All Ye Faithful,” from Garfunkel’s Acoustic Christmas album, the soaring “A Heart In New York” (with a perfect tenor sax solo by the equally perfect Michael Brecker), and a cover of “I’ve Grown Accustomed To Her Face” from 2007’s Some Enchanted Evening end the set. With a booklet that includes Garfunkel’s track-by-track annotations, I’m not sure if you are going to get anything better than these 34 tunes, all hand-picked by Garfunkel. The bottom line is that this set comprehensively showcases Art Garfunkel’s amazing career as The Singer.
~ Ralph Greco, Jr.