Picks and Pans Review: One-Trick Pony
This is the sound track for Simon's debut screenplay of the same title. He is also the star, playing an aging ex-folkie trying to keep his five-man band in business, though their dated music creates long odds for success in the Top 40 sweepstakes. The resulting album is magnificently rich, and as fine as anything Simon has ever written solo. Paul has not put out an LP since 1975's Still Crazy After All These Years, but obviously wasn't idle. The styles range from the hard-cooking percussion and drive of Late in the Evening to gospel in Ace in the Hole, backbeat funk in One-Trick Pony and dreamy lushness in Long, Long Day. Crisp, understated backup is provided by the movie band, Eric Gale on guitar, Steve Gadd on drums, Richard fee on piano and Tony Levin on bass. (Ralph MacDonald is the drummer on record but not onscreen.) Lyrically, Simon hasn't lost his touch for the melancholic, either. On Nobody, he sings, "Who knows my secret broken bone/ Who feels my flesh when I am gone?" God Bless the Absentee is full of on-the-road blues: "Lord, I am a surgeon/ And music is my knife/ It cuts away my sorrow/ And purifies my life." And there is some typical Simon counter-romantic wit. In Oh, Marion he sings, "The only time that love is an easy game is when two other people are playing it." In Jonah, Simon revises the biblical tale, singing, "I know Jonah was swallowed by a song." That's pretty much the sensation of listening to these 10 gems from a certifiable master of the intelligent, feeling pop song.