(Warner Bros.; 1986)
By the 1980s Paul Simon had carved out a fairly successful solo career following the breakup of Simon and Garfunkel. As the decade wore on, Simon entered into a creative lull, stalling after Hearts and Bones (1983). He would go on to find inspiration in an instrumental entitled “Gumboots” from the South African group Boyoyo Boys. The majority of Graceland was recorded in South Africa, at a time when the country was still under apartheid. Simon involved a number of local artists who contributed to developing and executing the album’s diverse sound.
The re-working of “Gumboots” and the jarring harmonies of “Homeless” prove that the West-meets-African rhythm is a perfect pairing. The title track has become one of Simon’s most recognizable singles, and for good reason: it’s a brilliant travel song of salvation following a broken relationship.
The album stands as one of the peaks of Simon’s career and, no doubt, is his most recognized work outside of Simon and Garfunkel.
Trial Track: “Gumboots”