Quite an interesting discussion today on the merits of the upcoming nine-disc box set at amps. Granted, much of the material to be included in the box has been around for a while (it is, after all, a box set), though Paul’s pre-nineties output could use a sound polish. However, the bonus tracks look riveting – here are my initial thoughts on ‘em.
According to Billboard, there seem to be three kinds of unreleased cuts: demos/works-in-progress, unreleased versions (presumably somewhat more complete than the demos, perhaps with substantial backing on the tracks) and live performances. Of these, a handful sound really exciting, because, to my knowledge, nobody – bootleggers included – has heard them yet: “Let Me Live In Your City,” from There Goes Rhymin’ Simon, an early version of “Something So Right” that Paul played on the Dick Cavett show on July 2, 1972; “All Because of You” and “Spiral Highway,” both of which come from One-Trick Pony (“Spiral” has been known as a didn’t-make-it from the film for years – whatever happened to “I Wanna Get High” and “Slow Man“?); “Shelter of Your Arms,” from Hearts and Bones; and “Shoplifting Clothes,” which was featured in The Capeman, and is featured on the unreleased soundtrack.
Of other interest are what should be some great demos, including what should be a smoking duet on “Born In Puerto Rico” from The Capeman with José Feliciano; Paul’s solo demo of “Homeless,” before Ladysmith Black Mambazo added their blessed harmonies; and an acoustic (solo?) demo of “Born at the Right Time.”
I have to admit that I’m scratching my head a little bit about the demo version of “Can I Forgive Him,” since the recorded version always sounded like a demo to me (a spot-on, knock-your-shoes-off demo, that is) – you can even hear Paul adjust his sitting position about 45 seconds in. I’m also pretty stoked about the work-in-progress versions of “The Coast” and “Spirit Voices,” two songs which have continued to grow since they were recorded, most recently in magical new live arrangements. It will be interesting to hear the opposite of that, the embryonic versions of a pair of Paul’s most spiritual tunes. The in-progress version of “All Around The World” sounds interesting too – I wonder if Los Lobos will appear on it.
All in all, who would have thought that Paul Simon would dig around his archives and come up with 30 basically unreleased tracks. Can’t wait to hear ‘em!