On this day in music history: August 12, 1986 – “Graceland”, the seventh album by Paul Simon is released. Produced by Paul Simon, it is recorded at Ovation Studios in Johannesburg, Republic Of South Africa, The Hit Factory in New York City, Amigo Studios in Los Angeles, CA, Abbey Road Studios in London, UK and Master-Trak Enterprises, Crowley, LA from October 1985 – June 1986. Following the poorly received “Hearts And Bones” album, Paul Simon is given a cassette of Township Jive music by the South African group The Boyoyo Boys by a friend. His interest is piqued by an instrumental called “Gumboots” (which he later writes lyrics for and records). The music inspires Simon to travel to South Africa and record with a group of South African musicians (which is controversial at the time as it breaks the cultural embargo against the country that is still ruled by separatist system of Apartheid) which also includes the vocal group Ladysmith Black Mambazo. The album also includes contributions and guest appearances by Los Lobos, Linda Ronstadt, and The Everly Brothers. When it is released, it is enthusiastically received, garnering great critical acclaim and commercial success, spinning off three singles including “You Can Call Me Al” (#23 Pop), “The Boy In The Bubble” (#86 Pop) and the title track (#81 Pop). The album wins two Grammy Awards including Album Of The Year in 1987, and Record Of The Year for the title track in 1988. In 2007, the album is added to the National Recording Registry by the Library Of Congress. To commemorate the albums twenty fifth anniversary, it is remastered and reissued as a two CD + DVD box set featuring previously unreleased demos, alternate versions and an interview with Paul Simon on the making of the landmark album. The DVD contains the documentary “Under African Skies” and a full live concert filmed in Harare, Zimbabwe in 1987. The box also contains a notepad, poster and 76 page booklet with photos and extensive annotation. It is also reissued as a 180 gram vinyl LP the same year, with a limited edition number edition released exclusively through Boston based retailer Newbury Comics (limited to 2,000 copies) and clear vinyl LP pressing released through UK retailer HMV Music (limited to 500 copies) in 2015. “Graceland” peaks at number three on the Billboard Top 200, and is certified 5x Platinum in the US by the RIAA.
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