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All Around the World, Or the Myth of “Graceland” Revisited: 25th Anniversary Box Set Due in June

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Paul Simon was back.  With a vengeance.

The sixties wunderkind and one-half of Simon and Garfunkel had greeted the 1980s uneasily.  The film One-Trick Pony, for which he served as writer, star and composer in 1980, was tepidly-received.  An underperforming LP (Hearts and Bones) followed in 1983, his first solo album since 1965 not to hit the Billboard Top 10.  It peaked at No. 35.  Simon’s biggest success of the first half of the decade was a headline-making reunion concert with his old friend Art.  As 1986 opened, Simon was barely 45 years old…how terribly strange.  And he had much, much more to say.  It took a trip to South Africa to recharge Paul Simon’s batteries.  In the rich musical tapestry of that country, the singer/songwriter reconnected with his own roots, creating what may be his most enduring solo musical statement.

The original multi-platinum album, with sales of 14+ million copies, picked up Grammy Awards for Album of the Year (in 1987) and Song of the Year for the title track (in 1988).  “You Can Call Me Al” dominated radio airplay and its music video made Simon a familiar face to the MTV generation.  Simon was able to synthesize the street-corner symphonies of his youth (early influences The Everly Brothers even guest on the title song!) with an ethnic sound foreign to many American listeners’ ears, and still spin commercial gold without sacrificing authenticity.  Last year, we reported on plans for a deluxe box set commemorating Graceland, as well as director Joe Berlinger’s documentary about the seminal album.  Now it can be revealed that a panoply of Graceland 25th Anniversary editions will arrive from Legacy Recordings on June 5.

Paul Simon’s pilgrimage to South Africa wasn’t without controversy.  Though Simon collaborated with many of the country’s finest musicians, a number of international observers chastised his decision to break the United Nations’ cultural boycott on the country, imposed because of its practice of apartheid.  25 years after Simon’s first visit, he returned to South Africa with filmmaker Joe Berlinger, and performed in front of a small audience with performers like Ladysmith Black Mambazo and Hugh Masekela.  Berlinger’s resulting documentary film Under African Skies has garnered considerable acclaim at SXSW 2012, the Santa Barbara International Film Festival and the Sundance Film Festival.  Even as it continues on the festival circuit, the film will play limited theatrical engagement in New York and Los Angeles beginning May 11th.  The documentary chronicles Simon’s journey making the album as well as his trip back and the concert.  It includes interviews with anti-apartheid activists as well as musical figures such as Quincy Jones, Harry Belafonte, Paul McCartney, David Byrne and Peter Gabriel.

Under African Skies is just one part of the ongoing Graceland celebration slated for 2012.  The joyful and provocative Graceland was quietly reissued in a remastered edition in 2011 alongside the Songwriter anthology, a 2-CD set personally curated by Simon.  Graceland will soon get the full deluxe treatment, however.  It will arrive from Legacy on June 5 as a 2-CD/2-DVD box set, a CD/DVD set, a vinyl edition and limited edition bundle.  The documentary will be available as an individual Blu-Ray disc, as well.

Graceland marked the crossroads of classic American pop and explosive world music.  Hit the jump for the full details on each of its 25th anniversary editions including track listings and pre-order links!

Graceland 25th Anniversary Collector’s Edition Box Set (2-CD/2-DVD) – This 2-CD/2-DVD set includes the remastered original album on its first disc, and a second disc containing six bonus tracks including the audio narrative The Story of Graceland as narrated by Simon.  (Yes, all of the bonus tracks contained on the previous Rhino and Legacy editions have been retained.)   Across two DVDs, you’ll find the Under African Skies documentary film with extended interviews, the original 1987 African Concert from Zimbabwe, three vintage music videos and Simon’s Saturday Night Live performance of “Diamonds on the Soles of Her Shoes.”  The box set also boasts replicas of an original Graceland poster and handwritten lyrics pad, plus an 80-page book filled with photos and interviews with the artist.  An Amazon-exclusive edition will include a bonus CD of five live tracks from the 1989 Graceland/Rhythm of the Saints tour, recorded in San Sebastian, Spain.

Graceland 25th Anniversary Edition CD/DVD – This CD/DVD set includes the remastered original album with five bonus tracks and the audio documentary on the CD, and the Under African Skies film on the DVD plus bonus features, three original music videos and Saturday Night Live performance of “Diamonds on the Soles of Her Shoes.”

Under African Skies Blu-ray Disc – Here’s Joe Berlinger’s documentary in the resolution only Blu-Ray can deliver, plus 5.1 audio and bonus features.

Graceland 25th Anniversary Edition Vinyl – This audiophile edition is remastered on 180-gram 12″ vinyl and includes a Graceland poster and a download card with the full album plus three bonus tracks. It will first become available beginning Saturday, April 21 via independent retailers participating in the Record Store Day festivities.

Ultra-deluxe Graceland 25th Anniversary Edition Box Set package – This “ultimate Graceland set” includes the boxed set, the 180-gram 12″ vinyl and a signed and numbered autographed commemorative poster.  It will be exclusively offered through

All titles arrive from Legacy Recordings on June 5 with the exception of the vinyl which drops on April 21.

Paul Simon, Graceland: 25th Anniversary Edition Box Set (Legacy Recordings, 2012)

CD 1: The Original Album (available on all editions)

  1. The Boy in the Bubble
  2. Graceland
  3. I Know What I Know
  4. Gumboots
  5. Diamonds on the Soles of Her Shoes
  6. You Can Call Me Al
  7. Under African Skies
  8. Homeless
  9. Crazy Love, Vol. II
  10. That Was Your Mother
  11. All Around the World, Or the Myth of Fingerprints

CD 2: Bonus Material (these tracks also available on CD/DVD set)

  1. Homeless (Demo)
  2. Diamonds on the Soles of Her Shoes (Alternate Version)
  3. All Around the World, or the Myth of Fingerprints (Early Version)
  4. You Can Call Me Al (Demo)
  5. Crazy Love (Demo)
  6. The Story of Graceland as told by Paul Simon


Tracks will include:

  1. Gumboots/Whispering Bells
  2. Crazy Love I & II
  3. I Know What I Know
  4. Homeless
  5. Graceland


  1. Under African Skies (documentary film)

CD 1 originally released as Warner Bros. LP W1-25447, 1986
CD 2, Tracks 1-3 originally released on Warner Bros./Rhino CD R2 78904, 2004
CD 2, Tracks 4-6 previously unreleased

Written by Joe Marchese

March 28, 2012 at 12:30

19 Responses

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  1. Hearts and Bones is a great “lost” album. If the release of that and Graceland were flip-flopped, it would’ve been received as a terrific follow-up, IMO.


    January 17, 2012 at 16:37

  2. I’m interested in the 2-disc edition of this. Since Disc 2 will obviously be the DVD with the African Skies documentary, I wonder if Disc 1 will be any different than the currently available remaster? I’d love to see them squeeze some additional bonus tracks onto the CD.


    January 18, 2012 at 11:00

  3. As fun and pleasing as this album is, I never have believed that Simon should get such praise for this as a “creative work”. He largely did a simple and very direct adaptation of existing South African popular music. The South Africans loved it of course, and so do I. But it is not an original creative work at all. Paul Simon is a master “adapter”, and he has done it at every stage of his career, from Tom & Jerry days onward. He is not a creator and innovator at all.


    January 18, 2012 at 12:14

    • My reaction to the original release of this album was what a master “craftsman” he was.


      January 18, 2012 at 21:58

  4. Legacy Recordings should release a real deluxe edition with a dvd ou blu-ray of “Paul Simon’s Concert in the Park, August 15, 1991”, which has never been released on dvd.
    I’ve got a personal copy from the original laserdisc, and it’s really a great concert. It would be a great addition to this set.

    Thierry from France

    January 20, 2012 at 05:05

    • That would be awesome, they need to remaster the CDs as well.


      March 28, 2012 at 21:27

  5. I have to echo Kevin’s comments – this is an example of very clever “theft” more than it is “creativity” per se. What bothers me about Simon’s lifting of ideas, melodies (etc) is that he is very slow to credit them properly, and generally does so only when it looks like it will cost him more (either financially or in terms of negative publicity) to not do so. This album is a pretty good example of that. What’s even sadder is that those he steals from don’t really have the means or connections to fight it these battles very easily, which makes me wonder whether he pilfers from certain places intentionally *for that reason.* (Even a band that does, like Los Lobos on this very album, knows that “politically” it’s not worth the headaches, though they at least are well-known enough artists to have some media exposure about the situation.)

    Now and then he does have a way with making a (stolen) tune swing, and once or twice an album comes up with a vaguely interesting bricolage of a song. But his lyrics are frequently a self-indulgent mess with cringe-worthy phrasing and a guaranteed high level of pretension. (Just yesterday, I heard “Loves Me Like A Rock” on the radio, and I was thinking about both how the tune was more-or-less stolen and the horrid “consecrated / consummated” play on words . . . if you even want to call that a play on words. And thinking about his, uh, wholesale “absorption” of a certain strand South African music and matching it with the lyrics of “You Can Call Me Al” just makes me want to puke. And let’s not even mention the Chevy Chase video!)

    Sadly, the mess that is “Graceland” – one of the first great one-album-a-year Yuppie albums (like Hootie & the Blowfish’s debut) sold about 5000 times more copies than much better albums available in the west like the “Zulu Jive” compilation on Hannibal, or the “Soweto” compilation of Rough Trade, or anything by Mahlathini & the Mahotella Queens . . . and so most people can’t accurately gauge the inferiority of this album, nor do outlets like that of our hosts ever both to do more than to scratch the surface of interesting reissues.


    March 28, 2012 at 14:28

    • While you have some valid points, I think you protest way-y too much. Graceland is a still a great, great album, and to mention Hootie & The Blowfish in the same in the breath as Graceland is insane.

      Also, if you ask Ladysmith Black Mambazo or Hugh Masakela, or any of the musicians who played in Simon’s band on the album or subsequent tours, I don’t think you’ll hear any resentment. I’ve seen Ladysmith perform without Simon, and they were very thankful for the exposure he gave them.

      As for his “cringe-worthy” lyrics, when you write some #1 hits or make your own Grammy winning albums (plural) then show us how it’s done, please.


      March 28, 2012 at 19:01

      • First of all, I can’t speak of Hugh Masakela personally, though plenty of people involved in the record and subsequent tour will tell you that Masakela (and Miriam Makeba) were brought in at least partially to stem criticism of Simon’s widely-debated (alleged) exploitation of South African culture. They were undoubtedly well-compensated . . . but they never wrote any songs Simon used, did they? In a sense, one could argue that Simon “appropriated” their many years of activism and artistic success to bolster his dilettante dabblings.

        And Ladysmith Black Mambazo was surely happy for the bonus exposure they received . . . but this doesn’t necessarily mean a single thing in relation to what I wrote. Mind you, they were already a pretty famous and relatively successful band throughout the world prior to “Graceland.” Surely many *have* benefited from an association with Paul Simon – I’ve never said otherwise.

        But Simon has been caught multiple times lifting songs from others without appropriate credit or royalties paid. Some of these he’s settled and admitted guilt, others apparently not. Since he seems to lift things from less-than-famous people without a lot of cash, making good (when caught) frequently makes people happy and a bit less likely to talk. That said, I can tell you that any time he releases a record, there is a lot of hand-wringing at his label about the clarity (and potential lack thereof) of writing credits, and with good reason – he’s been busted more often than has been publicized. And there have been many instances where people *have* talked, too. Like anything in the entertainment industry, for every story you hear with any credibility, there are usually a dozen others just as true. It’s worth noting that, for someone with his level of success, Simon is not very well-liked within the music business. And mostly, it’s due to his enormous ego and his willingness to take credit for things he had nothing or little to do with.

        One of my favorite stories about his is the Simon & Garfunkel song, “The Sound(s) Of Silence.” As many people know, it was originally a folky number with minimal instrumentation. Later, the producer had bass, drums and electric overdubbed on top of the original number – without Simon’s knowledge. This isn’t the easiest thing to make sound “right” in the studio when the original arrangement wasn’t planned this way, but all involved did a spectacular job, and, to make a long story short, the new version of the song was released and became a giant hit . . . essentially the first major stone in the pathway to Simon’s incredible long-lived success. But even this early on, Simon’s ego-madness was in evidence. When asked to perform the song (I believe for a television appearance), Simon gave instructions on how to play the tricky guitar part to the accomplished guitarist performing with him, Al Gorgoni. He told Al, “This is a difficult part, let me show you how I did it in the studio, so you won’t fuck it up.” Unbeknownst to Simon . . . Gorgoni was actually the very guy who played that very guitar part in the studio, while Simon was far away in England!

        To somehow distinguish between Hootie & the Blowfish’s debut and “Graceland” while implying the great importance of “some #1 hits” isn’t simply disingenuous, it’s outright dishonest. “#1 hits” are nothing more than the product of popularity and promotion. Given that Simon had a very long and successful career and was (and is) guaranteed fantastic amounts of coverage whenever he released a record (unlike Hootie at the time, who had never had a single major label release), the fact that Hootie’s debut *outsold* “Graceland” (by nearly three times in the USA) despite a lack of name recognition and (at best) only very limited regional exposure prior to the album’s release makes Hootie’s debut a more phenomenal success. They won a Grammy, too! The Grammys, by the way, are notoriously stodgy and slow to react to quality, but very quick to honor people for purely commercial success. Simon’s won many, but take a look at people who were winning Grammys while he’s been active – the best new artists from 1975-1979? (to give an example) – Marvin Hamlisch, Natalie Cole, Starland Vocal Band, Debbie Boone and A Taste Of Honey! The Grammys are a better predictor of how crap something is, even though it sold a lot of records!

        Of course, Hootie & the Blowfish were pretty worthless, and I’d argue that “Graceland,” while better, isn’t a very good album. I’ve never met anyone with a reasonable knowledge of African music who had much time for it. To me, it’s a bit like the early Pat Boone rock and roll hits. They outsold the patently superior originals, for the most part – they were pablum enough for people to handle and were better-promoted. Decades later, this fact is forgotten. Simon’s written a few songs that became hits for others (The Cyrkle, Harpers Bizarre), but compared to his peers, his catalog isn’t all that highly valued, his songs aren’t frequently covered, and his post-S&G career hasn’t been as fantastic as you’d think. (For example, in the past 40 years, he’s only released *three* platinum albums of original work, and none for more than two decades.)


        March 29, 2012 at 00:52

  6. So…the bonus tracks on Disc 2 of the Amazon-exclusive 2 CD/2 DVD set are squeezed onto one disc on the general release 1 CD/1 DVD set? That seems like a waste…


    March 28, 2012 at 16:01

    • Truth to tell, RS, that struck me as the most peculiar aspect of the set, too…

      Joe Marchese

      March 28, 2012 at 16:58

  7. Seems a shame the 12″ mix of “The Boy In The Bubble” is not included.


    March 28, 2012 at 16:39

  8. I’ve always felt the LP that came after Graceland, Rhythm of the Saints (the “Brazilian” one) surpassed Graceland. But of course this is all subjective….


    March 28, 2012 at 20:04

    • I agree with you, Steve. As enjoyable as “Graceland” was, Rhythm Of The Saints” seemed to hold its appeal for much longer and also took longer to reveal the intricacies inherent in the rhythms and instrumentation of this kind of music. It’s probably my favourite Paul Simon album to this day…..


      March 30, 2012 at 12:48

  9. I was kind of hoping for a 5.1 version of the album on Blu-Ray and/or DVD.


    March 28, 2012 at 21:26

  10. I would say that all artists are thiefs. Its just that some of them “steal” from the “rare and unusual works of insight” in an effort to create something truly unique, while others steal from the latest trends (as good as those trends might be) in effort to be popular.

    Paul Simon is one of the best at imitating trends, from his early copying of the Everly Brothers and Fleetwoods, to his imitations of Dylan and even the Beatles, to his adaptations world music rhythm. When this thievery fails to make him more popular, he whines (note all of the recent interviews when he said he is upset at being considered the No. 2 singer songwriter…next to Dylan. —who said he is number 2?)

    Meanwhile the true creative thiefs, like Dylan, don’t care about rankings.

    Still, Paul Simon’s music is very good! Just not the stuff of myth and legend.


    March 29, 2012 at 07:52

  11. I’ve heard Los Lobos complain about the theft of their music.
    As long as Paul Simon is paying and giving proper credits to those involved, then I don’t care. And even if he wasn’t, it still does not detract from my enjoyment of the songs.
    Look at Led Zeppelin, the Rolling Stones and Eric Clapton. Amazing thieves.


    March 29, 2012 at 22:12


    Quote…it was the bass that really turned me on. Take the bass line on ‘Boy In The Bubble’ — oh, man, it’s off-the-wall great. And you should hear some of the out-takes. Even today, there could be two instrumental albums consisting of those fabulous grooves.UnQuote

    So another chance vanished to add these forementioned instrumental takes into a quality box-set featuring the original stuff and Simon`s “out-takes” side by side……

    Honestly I believe Graceland being an OK Album, but for the ones really in search of South African Music habe to start with the “Indistructable Sound of Soweto” comps released by UK “Earthworks” in the early eigties as LP`s and later on CD level…….


    March 30, 2012 at 08:29

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