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Wednesday Morning, 3 AM [Bonus Tracks] ()

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Wednesday Morning, 3 AM doesn't resemble any other Simon & Garfunkel album, because the Simon & Garfunkel sound here was different from that of the chart-topping duo that emerged a year later. Their first record together since their days as the teen duo of Tom & Jerry, the album was cut in March 1964 and, in keeping with their own sincere interests at the time, it was a folk-revival album. Paul Simon was just spreading his wings as a serious songwriter and shares space with other composers as well as a pair of traditional songs, including a beautifully harmonized rendition of "Peggy-O." The album opens with a spirited (if somewhat arch) rendition of Gibson and Camp's gospel/folk piece "You Can Tell the World." Also present is Ian Campbell's "The Sun Is Burning," which Simon heard on his first visit to England as an itinerant folksinger, which would later yield such works as "Anji" and "Scarborough Fair." But the dominant outside personality on the album is that of Bob Dylan -- his "Times They Are A-Changing" is covered, but his influence is manifest on the oldest of the Simon originals here, "He Was My Brother." Simon's first serious, topical song, it was what first interested Columbia Records producer Tom Wilson in Simon & Garfunkel. He'd written it before the event, but Simon later identified the song closely with the fate of his Queens College classmate Andrew Goodman, one of three civil rights workers murdered in Mississippi in 1964. By the time the album was recorded, however, Simon had evolved beyond Dylan as an inspiration and developed a unique songwriting voice of his own in the title track, a beautifully sung, half-lovely song (that also shows his limitations, employing the phrase "hard liquor store" because he needed the extra syllable); "Sparrow" and "Bleecker Street," spritely, mystical, and mysterious, and innocently poignant observations on life; and "The Sounds of Silence" in its original all-acoustic version, a heartfelt and defiant statement about the human condition and the shape of the world. Art Garfunkel's makes his own contribution on the creative side with a beautiful arrangement of "Benedictus." It's surprisingly ambitious but also somewhat disjointed, mostly because the non-original material, apart from "Peggy-O" and "The Sun Is Burning," comes off so arch. The seeds of their future success were here, however, and took root when the version of "The Sounds of Silence" on this album started getting played on the radio, in Boston and Florida, respectively. ~ Bruce Eder, Rovi Hide synopsis

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