audio review : Songs From The Capeman ( album ) … Paul Simon

audio review : Songs From The Capeman ( album ) ... Paul Simon

This isn’t really a Paul Simon album. It’s songs from a stage musical created by him. The Capeman is based on the true story of Salvador Agron, a Puerto Rican teen who made the New York news in 1959 for killing two rival gang members. Why Simon finds the case; a front page story at the time but banal compared to the news of today; interesting enough to devote such a big production to is the question. Whatever the reason, he and his team of musicians make it something extraordinary. Their songs, inspired by doo-wop and other 1950s styles, soar with melody. Their words flow with poetry.

The album’s one major flaw goes back to it not really being a Paul Simon album. The individual songs turn a tragic tale into a tuneful triumph, but the overall concept is a bloody mess. Different singers play the same characters. It starts with Paul as Sal, but the role switches to Marc Anthony along the way. Different characters are also played by the same singers, often in the same songs, which make the dialogue and plotting confusing to anyone not reading along with the liner notes. If said nuisances can be ignored, or at least forgiven, Songs From The Capeman ranks among Paul Simon’s best.

my rating = 4 of 5

1997

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