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Graceland 25th Anniversary Edition + Under African Skies Documentary -- June 5, 2012 [Archive] - DVD Talk Forum
 
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View Full Version : Graceland 25th Anniversary Edition + Under African Skies Documentary -- June 5, 2012


Decker
04-13-12, 05:15 PM
I just read about this in the new Rolling Stone issue. I can't cut & paste their version, but here's the story on AP

25th Anniversary of Paul Simon's Graceland Celebrated With New Documentary Film & Commemorative Editions of Classic Album


"Paul Simon: Under African Skies," A New Documentary About Graceland From Two-Time Emmy and Peabody Award Winning Filmmaker Joe Berlinger, Premiering at Sundance Film Festival 2012

New Editions of Paul Simon Landmark Album - Including A Special Anniversary Box Set Featuring Original Album, Bonus Tracks & Director's Cut of Graceland Documentary - Coming Spring 2012

NEW YORK, January 17, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- On January 22, 2012, "Under African Skies," the new Joe Berlinger-directed documentary chronicling the creation and lasting influence of Paul Simon's groundbreaking Graceland, will debut at the 2012 Sundance Film Festival, kicking off a year's long celebration commemorating the 25th anniversary of Simon's musical and cultural achievement.

Following its Sundance premiere, "Under African Skies," one of the year's most eagerly anticipated documentaries, is slated for international film festival screenings and a limited theatrical run as well as airings on A&E.

The story of the making of Graceland, and the controversy created when Simon went to South Africa to record with local artists, is told in "Under African Skies," the new full-length documentary from two-time Emmy and Peabody Award winning filmmaker Joe Berlinger ("Brother's Keeper," "Metallica: Some Kind of Monster," the West Memphis Three/"Paradise Lost" trilogy) and producers@radical.media and A&E IndieFilms.

Coming this spring, Legacy Recordings will release a Graceland 25th anniversary commemorative edition deluxe collector's box set as well as a special two-disc set, each featuring the original album with bonus tracks and the director's cut of "Under African Skies."

"Under African Skies" travels with Paul Simon back to South Africa 25 years after his first visit. Simon revisits the making of the record, surveying from the vantage of history the turbulence and controversy surrounding the album's genesis. His artistic decision to collaborate with African musicians created a new world musical fusion, combining American and African musical idioms while igniting an intense political crossfire, with Paul Simon accused of breaking the UN cultural boycott of South Africa designed to end the Apartheid regime.

The universal appeal of the music of Graceland proved more powerful and enduring than the political hotbed attending its creation. In 1986, the album sold 14 million copies worldwide, and received universal praise from critics around the globe. Simon and the members of Ladysmith Black Mambazo performed on Saturday Night Live and appeared on the cover of Rolling Stone.

By January of 1987, "You Can Call Me Al" was everywhere and Graceland won Album of the Year at the Grammy Awards in 1987. Then, in an unprecedented carryover, the album garnered the Grammy for Song of the Year with its title track in 1988. The album generated three hit singles and kept Paul Simon and the Graceland tour on the road for five years.

In the film, Simon provides a fresh and revelatory perspective on the album while gathering the record's original musicians for a transcendental Graceland concert reunion. "Under African Skies" features interviews with key anti-apartheid activists of the time and such musical legends as Quincy Jones, Harry Belafonte, Paul McCartney, David Byrne and Peter Gabriel.

Graceland continues to provide rewards to its listeners and remains a pivotal listening experience for writers, artists and fans. "Paul Simon's Graceland played a greatly significant role in removing the standoffish dread Western culture harbored toward South Africa during its internal struggle against apartheid, humanizing both a country's soul-searching hunger for liberation and its simultaneous outpouring of cathartic creative expression." – Timothy White, Billboard

"Prior to Graceland, the music of South Africa was largely unknown outside the country, except to a small minority of world music fans..." – Peter Gabriel

"I don't like the idea that people who aren't adolescents make records. Adolescents make the best records. Except for Paul Simon. Except for Graceland. He's hit a new plateau there, but he's writing to his own age group. Graceland is something new." - Joe Strummer interviewed by Richard Cromelin for the Los Angeles Times on January 31, 1988

"In many ways, Graceland was the most extraordinary experience in my entire career.... The insight into rhythm was the great gift that I received from making the trip to South Africa, and collaborating with African musicians." -- Paul Simon
_________________________

I'm really looking forward to this re-release. It was actually the first album I ever bought on CD, to go along with my new portable CD Player I got for Christmas, 1986.

Amazon has the album + DVD documentary for $17.18 (http://www.amazon.com/Graceland-Anniversary-Edition-Featuring-African/dp/B007P06DJK/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1334351096&sr=8-2), which seems like a good price. Unfortunately, there doesn't seem to be a CD + Blu Ray version and the Blu alone is like $25.


edit : I should have labled this thread "Paul Simon's Graceland 25th Anniversary", but you can't edit thread titles, unfortunately. Mods, feel free to do that to avoid any confusion.

Decker
06-05-12, 12:07 PM
Nobody responded before so perhaps there's no interest in this re-release, but it came out today. It's dropped to $14.88 at Amazon for the CD/DVD set I linked above (the Blu never dropped in price). My copy arrives today. I'll try to post some impressions of the CD and the documentary in a few days.

Abe.
06-07-12, 05:22 AM
I picked this up on vinyl on RSD. Love it.

Mabuse
07-27-12, 12:55 PM
I got this for my birthday and watched the doc. Very good.

On the one hand it was really immersive and included so much great old audio and video of the making of the album and it did a great job of establishing and explaining the difficult political situation that surrounded the making of the album.

On the other hand it was a little too Africa centric and didn't focus objectively enough on the WHOLE album.

As much as I love Graceland I've never been completely happy with the last two tracks, a Cajun zideco influenced song and a LA/Mex/Blues song recorded with Los Lobos. There's so little information available about these tracks and the COMPLETE overall concept of the album. The inclusion of these tracks has always made me feel that the album started out conceptually as "Paul Simon travels the world and records songs with different sounds" and each track would have a very different world music sound but that the Africa recordings took on a life of their own. The finished product is 9 African tracks that could have very well stood on their own as the whole album, and two songs that are drastically different in tone.

Further clouding the issue is the criticism from Los Lobos that has persisted over the years that Simon "stole" the song and didn't give them any writing credits. Watching this doc it seems even more clear that what Simon did with Los Lobos is exactly what he did with the African musicians; he went into the studio with barely any ideas, listened to them jam, and wove a complex arrangements of their sounds which he later recorded words on top of. I don't know if that's stealing or not, but the Africans don't feel anything was stolen while Los Lobos does. I don't know. It's troubling, but I still can't grasp the big picture.

Also, I would like to have Crazy Love Part II explained. What happened to Crazy Love Part I?

Hiro11
07-27-12, 01:06 PM
This album really holds up. It still sounds great to me. The title track and "Diamonds on the Soles of Our Shoes" are, IMO, the two best things Simon ever did. And that's saying something.

The fantastic last song on Graceland ("Myth of Fingerprints") features Los Lobos. Here's a really interesting interview in which Los Lobos leader Steve Berlin basically says that Simon stole the entire album from his collaborators:
http://www.rockcellarmagazine.com/2012/07/17/viva-los-lobos-interview-with-steve-berlin/

Simon has an (apparently) well-earned reputation for being a complete asshole. I guess I wouldn't be surprised. No matter, it's still easily one of the best albums of the 80s.

Supermallet
07-27-12, 09:11 PM
I'd say Graceland is one of the best albums of all time.

Norm de Plume
07-28-12, 12:32 AM
Wonderful album. I love "Gumboots" and most of the others.

Mabuse
07-31-12, 08:11 PM
This album really holds up. It still sounds great to me. The title track and "Diamonds on the Soles of Our Shoes" are, IMO, the two best things Simon ever did. And that's saying something.

The fantastic last song on Graceland ("Myth of Fingerprints") features Los Lobos. Here's a really interesting interview in which Los Lobos leader Steve Berlin basically says that Simon stole the entire album from his collaborators:
http://www.rockcellarmagazine.com/2012/07/17/viva-los-lobos-interview-with-steve-berlin/

Simon has an (apparently) well-earned reputation for being a complete asshole. I guess I wouldn't be surprised. No matter, it's still easily one of the best albums of the 80s.

I'm in no position to claim anyone is right or wrong, Los Lobos or Paul Simon, but there are inconsistencies in this guy's version of events.

Let me start by saying that one of the things that I think gets lost with the passage of time, is that when we went into the studio with Paul, we were actually doing him a favor. That’s something I think a lot of people don’t realize. He was coming off a relative string of failures. He had done a Broadway play that nobody went to and nobody bought his last record. The fact is, in that moment, we had just won a Grammy and sold a number of records.

The bolding is mine because it's ironic that there seems to be some forgeting going on "with the passage of time" here. Simon wasn't coming off a string of failures, but only one failure, the Hearts and Bones album. He would not have his infamous Broadway failure for another decade. He was coming off a somewhat failed film called One Trick Pony. Maybe that's what he's thinking of. Also, as near as I can tell Los Lobos had not won any Grammy's yet by 1986 when Graceland was recorded.

Later he says: "And I would say the indicator – and this is another thing many people forget over time — is that Paul claimed that he wrote a lot of the African stuff on that album. Then he had to retroactively give a lot of the African records credit, because those recordings actually did exist. If you can believe it, those were actually popular records in South Africa that he just appropriated and alleged to have written the music to. It really gives you an indication what kind of person this prick is. It’s pretty obvious.

Paul Simon gives full credit in the liner notes of the original album and spells out everyone involved. He names the bands and the artists that he recorded with, he describes how a bootleg tape of music that he didn't even know was South African originally inspired him and he tracked down the band and recorded with them. How he discovered Ladysmith BM from a BBC documentary and sought them out. Simon was very transparent on the situation and he does give co-writing credit on at least half of the songs.