Various Artists

Paul Simon Plus

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Consider this album either a ripoff or a history lesson. It contains ten tracks by five different artists: Paul Simon (whose three selections earn him the LP title), Neil Sedaka, Tony Orlando, Johnny Rivers, and Frankie Valli. The tracks were recorded in the late '50s/early '60s for small New York record labels like Warwick, Legion, Guyden, and Cindy, and they represent some of the featured artists' earliest recordings, all very much in the doo wop and teen ballad genres of then-current chart toppers like Dion and the Belmonts and Paul Anka. True, listening to Paul Simon sing "Play Me a Sad Song [Please, Mr. DJ]" is a curious experience, but it helps inform the broad musical palette he would use in later years. The others have not diverged so much from their roots -- Sedaka at the start of his career sounds about the same as Sedaka in the middle of his career, Tony Orlando remained a light pop performer, Johnny Rivers does a Buddy Holly imitation on "You're the One," and Valli's two 1959 tracks are not far removed from what the Four Seasons were doing only a few years later.