Sound — 8
Wednesday Morning, 3 A.M. is the first official album of Simon and Garfunkel (they had released songs before under the group name Tom & Jerry), and it reflects the strong folk influences the duo was under at the time. The album is a mixture of covers and some of Paul Simon's early original songs, including the original version of The Sounds of Silence, which was re-released with full electric backing, to great chart success. Here, though, The Sounds of Silence sits comfortably in an all-acoustic LP replete with folk numbers such as Peggy-O and Benedictus. Fans of folk will find much to love, and fans of heart-melting harmonies should have already heard Wednesday Morning, as Art Garfunkel's soaring tenor is one of the most gorgeous voices ever captured on record, and Paul Simon's gentle, low-key croon meshes with it beautifully. The downside is that the Simon and Garfunkel sound was not yet highly developed and is still mostly derivative. Musically, there's little on the album earth-shatteringly different from anything that came before it, and for those uninterested in folk music, there's not much here.
Lyrics — 8
Paul Simon's lyrics, even in this early stage, are highly literate and poetic, only occasionally coming off heavy-handed. The allegorical tragedy "Sparrow," is surprisingly well-executed, as is Simon's tribute to Bleecker Street, and the absolutely gorgeous sonnet Wednesday Morning, 3 A.M. And who could deny that the opening lines of The Sounds of Silence ("Hello Darkness my old friend/I've come to talk with you again/Because a vision softly speaking...") are some of the most memorable lyrics ever committed to record? Though he was relatively green, Simon was still capable of churning out quality lyrics. Unfortunately, he occasionally entraps himself in English-majorish literary pretensions and comes off sounding like he's trying too hard, but on the whole Paul Simon manages to keep his ambition in close tandem with his ability.
Overall Impression — 8
Wednesday Morning, 3 A.M. was, and still is, met with a lukewarm response from critics and the record-buying public for it's relative unoriginality, generally seen as yet another attempt by the industry to cash in on the wild, unanticipated success of Bob Dylan. Indeed, such criticisms are validated by the fact that the album's weakest track is a totally superfluous version of The Times They Are A-Changin'. Simon and Garfunkel's trademark harmony sounds surprisingly weak on this Dylan cover, and Garfunkel's rich voice seems strained. Even so, the cover is not bad, just entirely unnecessary. Personally, in my mind it's a perfect 10, despite it's piffling shortcomings. I could listen to Wednesday Morning over and over again without getting tired of it (and since it's barely over 30 minutes long, I usually do), but I'm a whore for pretty voices, acoustic guitars, folk music, and poignant lyrics. The average listener might not be so keen on these attributes, and if he is not he should leave this album be. However, if you are, I urge you to give Wednesday Morning a chance.