All of Paul Simon's solo albums ranked

Every Paul Simon solo record reviewed.

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No. 6 - PAUL SIMON (1972)

The Songbook was Simon’s first solo album, but to most fans, this was the real beginning of his life apart from Art Garfunkel. The final two albums with Garfunkel – Bookends and Bridge Over Troubled Waters – were titanic achievements. He took a couple of years after them to release his self-titled follow-up. Staring out from the cover from beneath a fur-lined parka hood that mostly obscured his face, Paul Simon announced that even without Art Garfunkel, he was going to remain a major force.

The calypso of “Mother and Child Reunion” introduced much of the public to Simon as a solo artist, and the public ate it up. The song hit number 4 on the US charts. The album would mirror that success. It also made it to number 4 in the US and hit number 1 in a half dozen countries from the UK to Japan.

The album produced one other major hit “Me and Julio Down by the Schoolyard,” and a number of minor gems. “Duncan,” was one of the best story songs he ever wrote. “Run That Body Down” delves into jazz while “Peace Like a River” plays with blues. There’s some spry bluegrass on the instrumental “Hobo’s Blues.” And he’s having fun exploring different instruments more than he did with Simon and Garfunkel. There’s the bass harmonica –an instrument he would return to throughout his career – on “Papa Hobo,” and a bottleneck slide on “Paranoia Blues.”

Simon would have to wait until his next album to begin racking up solo Grammy nominations, but Paul Simon offered a pretty good indication that there would be many awards to come.