All of Paul Simon's solo albums ranked

Every Paul Simon solo record reviewed.

9 of 16


Stranger to Stranger opens with another new collaboration. Italian producer Clap! Clap! worked on three of the first four tracks, and they are some of the best songs in Simon’s entire career. “The Werewolf” is an awesome opener, featuring too many instruments and sounds to count. “Wristband,” a slinky blues tune that became the album’s best-known song, followed. And “Street Angel,” a little piece of funk with wry, mostly-spoken vocals concludes Clap! Clap!’s contributions. All three songs are excellent, wedding Simon’s love of new sounds and instruments with strong song structures.

The remainder of the album features some very good songs as well, although they do show the tendency to allow soundscapes to overwhelm songs. The title track and the concluding “Insomniac’s Lullaby” could have used a little tougher editor. But “In a Parade,” “The Riverbank,” and “Cool Papa Bell” are all strong rockers that blend funk and blues about as well as Simon ever would.

Instrumentals are never very prominent in Simon’s albums. He sprinkled one in here and there, but I believe this is the only album on which he offered two pure instrumentals. Both are short – the metronomic “The Clock,” and the flamenco-tinged “In the Garden of Edie,” and provide nice interludes without slowing the album’s pace.