20. Paul Simon Graceland
(Warner Brothers, 1986)
Graceland was so effortless in its blend of African rhythms and Simon’s classic pop sensibilities that it is easy to forget just how radical it was upon its release in 1986.
Beginning with the uplifting and optimistic ‘Boy In The Bubble’, the album segues into the moving title track that documents Simon’s collapsed marriage with Star Wars actress Carrie Fisher and a subsequent visit to Elvis’ mansion.
The irresistible ‘Gumboots’ and ‘Diamonds On The Soles of Her Shoes’ are followed by the worldwide smash hit ‘You Can Call Me Al’ and the sublime ‘Under African Skies’.
It goes without saying that Ladysmith Black Mambazo and the other African musicians on the record are as much of the stars of the album as Simon himself, and thankfully they would go on to achieve the deserved international success the heinous apartheid regime had denied them.
Joe Strummer picked Graceland out as one of his favourite records, and one that inspired his exploration of world music. A great pop record for a road trip.
Try also: Paul Simon The Rhythm Of The Saints (Warner Brothers, 1990).