Before the Fame

Simon & Garfunkel

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Before the Fame Review

by Steve Leggett

Between 1957 and their album debut as folksters in 1964, Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel recorded regularly, both together and separately, under a variety of monikers, including Artie Garr, Jerry Landis, Tom and Jerry, Tico, Tico and the Triumphs, and True Taylor. While the content level of this early material was on the light side, falling squarely in the teen bubblegum camp, it is obvious that these two guys knew their way around a professional recording studio. The nascent doo wop and Everly Brothers influences that the duo would later shape into their signature sound is clearly present in these songs, and it isn't difficult to imagine a few of these tunes slipping into a Simon and Garfunkel concert set. The opening track here, "Dream Alone," is pure Art Garfunkel at his angelic best, while the Everly Brothers-styled "Shy" shines with a kind of Brian Wilson innocence. There is an unsaid and poignant sensitivity to "It Means a Lot to Them" that would later become a hallmark of Simon's writing, although one is grateful he didn't follow the path of "The Lone Teen Angel," which has all the charm of a bad cartoon. There are longer and more comprehensive compilations of Simon and Garfunkel's early work available, and serious collectors should probably seek those out, but for the casual listener simply curious about the teen roots of this innovative duo, this release is just about perfect.

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