Album Review: Paul Simon Graceland 25th Anniversary Edition

18 July 2012 | 8:13 am | Daniel Johnson

Despite its inclusion with Graceland, the film doesn’t shy away from some of the more controversial elements of the album’s genesis, including Simon’s breaching of the United Nations’ cultural boycott of South Africa.

Graceland has already been re-released in recent years with a few of the additional tracks included here but this 25th anniversary reissue is a must-buy for fans of Simon's landmark collaboration with South African musicians for the inclusion of the DVD companion peace, Under African Skies, alone.

The album itself more than stands the test of time, from the opening accordion notes of The Boy In The Bubble through the upbeat, optimistic jangle of the title track, You Can Call Me Al and Ladysmith Black Mambazo-accompanied Diamonds On The Soles Of Her Shoes. In addition to demos and alternate takes, there are also early incarnations of All Around The World or The Myth Of Fingerprints, You Can Call Me Al and Crazy Love as well as a 15-minute reminiscence by Simon called The Story Of Graceland. But it's the brilliant, almost two-and-a-half-hour documentary film that justifies the purchase price. Helmed by Oscar-nominated documentarian Joe Berlinger (Some Kind Of Monster), the film chronicles Simon's first trip to South Africa in almost two decades as he reunites with his collaborators from the original Graceland sessions. It's interspersed with archival studio, concert and news footage, as well as present-day interviews with Simon, Harry Belafonte, Paul McCartney, David Byrne and key anti-apartheid activists.

Despite its inclusion with Graceland, the film doesn't shy away from some of the more controversial elements of the album's genesis, including Simon's breaching of the United Nations' cultural boycott of South Africa. The DVD also includes the original music videos for the album's singles, as well as a performance of Diamonds On The Soles Of Her Shoes on Saturday Night Live from 1986. Stunning.