Rhymin’ Simon is beautifully produced and recorded, with shimmering crisp highs and plenty of transparency in the layers of instruments. Vocals are silky and wet with analog reverb. You can hear a world of details in the drumming, especially the cymbals. Pianos have natural acoustic timbre, and you can feel the bounce of hammers against the strings. Acoustic guitars are recorded close, revealing the scrape of fingers on fretboard. The whole record sounds like a breath of spring, and it’s amazing to hear a vinyl pressing that faithfully reflects the splendid layers of sound on the master tapes.
It must have been startling to put this record on in 1973 and experience the spacious opening track layered with bouncing guitar, cracking drums, and confidently immaculate vocal. Hear the Wurlitzer keyboard, at least three acoustic guitars, and bright piano toward the end.
This track has the feel of 50s doo-wop with more jazzy, complex chords. Hear the delicate grace notes of the piano and the incomparable breathy backup of the Dixie Hummingbirds below Simon’s echo-laden vocal.
Take Me To The Mardi Gras
Hear fingers scraping on the strings and rubber-band snapping sound of the sublime opening acoustic guitar phrases. Listen for double-tracked super-close Simon/Simon harmony, vibrating electric guitar, falsetto trade-offs with Reverend Claude Jeter, and the horns of the Onward Brass Band at the end. So many layers on this track.
Something So Right
Sweet and soft acoustic guitar and ringing vibraphone start this off. Listen for the electric guitar peeking in, as well as piano, followed by the swelling and slightly eerie strings. The drums have an unexpectedly full bottom end and punch. Listen for the flute suddenly appearing near the fade out.
One Man’s Ceiling Is Another Man’s Floor
Fully rounded piano sound is center stage as this track opens. Listen for the wicked electric guitar just below the audio focal point.
Like a few of Simon’s songs, this is both personal and hugely anthemic. Listen for the subtle bass, and the “marching” drums coming in at the second verse. Then in the third verse, the track opens up with strings – like getting a sudden view of the landscape ahead from the top of a hill crest on the road.
Was A Sunny Day
You’ve got to have a lot of confidence as a songwriter to write something this childlike, and know that its genuine sweetness will carry it. And it has a reference to The Cadillacs. Starting out, the guitar sounds like a rubber band. The bass is impishly melodic. Very subtle sleigh bells far down in the mix.
Learn How To Fall
Listen to the left-right panned duelling acoustic guitars playing totally different interlocking parts. The springy bass and drums create a rich trampoline-like bouncing low end. As with every other track on this album, this mix is a work of art.
St. Judy’s Comet
This is one of the more up-close and intimate, as well as dry vocals on the album. The soft shaker adds to the lullabye-esque texture. Vibraphone and electric guitar are subtle touches.
Loves Me Like A Rock
The Dixie Hummingbirds start this track with a harmonic vocal hum, and weave their way around this simple but gloriously catchy album closer. Listen for hand claps coming in at the second verse.
Start to finish, this is a brilliant and artfully crafted set of songs that blend together in a sweet and imaginative musical trip.