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World Music CD Reviews North American

PAUL SIMON

By Jeff Tamarkin

Graceland
Warner Bros.

Singer-songwriter Paul Simon was a '60s icon whose career was pretty far down the toilet by the mid-'80s when he stumbled upon the music of South Africa. Fascinated by mbaqanga, which inspired Simon the way New York doo-wop had decades earlier, the artist threw caution to the wind and assembled his most experimental, yet accessible, record to date. The gamble paid off, as Graceland became his most commercially and artistically successful release. Equally important, the album introduced to American audiences the dazzling South African acappella vocal troupe Ladysmith Black Mambazo, who joined a team of supporting artists that also included Youssou N'Dour, the Everly Brothers, Los Lobos and more.