This is not going to be an objective review. Graceland is my favorite album of all time. This CD/DVD package celebrating its 25th Anniversary is simply stellar, with not only the CD but extra bonus tracks, including the demo version of "Homeless," "You Can Call Me Al," and "Crazy Love" plus an extra early version of "All Around the World or The Myth of Fingerprints," and Paul Simon's explanation of "The Story of Graceland."
This anniversary package also includes the amazing documentary,Under African Skies, which tells the story of how Simon traveled to South Africa to record most of the songs on Graceland with extremely talented South African musicians. More information and photos are provided in the enclosed booklet.
The musicians were delighted to have an opportunity to let the world hear their music, but the trip and the recording were politically controversial. There was a cultural ban in South Africa at the time because of apartheid, and white musicians were not supposed to come to the country without permission from the rebel leaders. But Simon did not believe that musicians should have to ask permission to perform together, and he did not do so.
Many people criticized Simon and even the South African musicians for this decision, but this was not a case where a white musician came in and took advantage of the South African people. It was a true collaboration between a white American performer and native musicians.
Graceland changed the way many Americans viewed South Africa. It gave the people faces and voices. We all knew about the horrors of apartheid, but many of us pictured poor, ignorant people living in shacks. We sympathized, but we did not empathize. Hearing the incredible musicianship and watching the joy and exuberant dancing of the African performers on Saturday Night Live made them real people for us and made us care.