Though this commemorative edition of Simon’s most celebrated and controversial solo album hits stores a year after the anniversary of its title, it does coincide with 25 years since the accompanying tour that saw the singer confronted by protestors outside venues. His decision to record parts of the record in South Africa, thereby flouting a cultural boycott at the time of Apartheid, is still a contentious issue for many, but it doesn’t diminish the power of the music.
This is the Simon who embraced “world” music more visibly than any of his contemporaries, melding township rhythms to urbane New York sensibilities on You Can Call Me All, The Boy In The Bubble, I Know What I Know and Diamonds On The Soles Of Her Shoes. Elsewhere, he brings a Cajun shuffle to That Was Your Mother, his global curiosity striking a powerful chord throughout.
Previous reissues have featured the same bonus tracks, but the real prize here is the DVD of Under African Skies, director Joe Berlinger’s revealing documentary of Simon returning to Johannesburg last year to reunite with the album’s musicians and meet some of his critics face to face. It’s an extraordinary film, the singer admitting openly for the first time that mistakes may have been made, but nonetheless resolutely proud of the record he came away with.