Cunningly timed to catch Simon's current reunion with Art Garfunkel, these reissues of his nine solo albums span the three decades between 1972's Paul Simon to 2000's You're the One. Simon has always laboured agonisingly over his work, with the result that his best music has an air of timelessness about it, though sometimes he is let down by his inability to sustain his inspiration over an entire album.
His most satisfying efforts were his debut (featuring Mother and Child Reunion and Me and Julio Down By the Schoolyard), There Goes Rhymin' Simon (Take Me to the Mardi Gras, American Tune), Still Crazy After All These Years (50 Ways to Leave Your Lover) and Graceland (title track, You Can Call Me Al, etc), though Hearts and Bones is better than its disastrous sales figures suggested, and several songs from his Broadwayflop, The Capeman, rank among his finest.
Simon was taken aback by the political storm surrounding his trips to South Africa for Graceland, perhaps because he has always been an instinctive borrower of musical styles, from reggae and Puerto Rican music to doo-wop and South American folk. All of these discs continue to repay repeated listenings, and some revealing demos and early versions of songs have been added to shed some light on his working processes.