In 1957, Simon and Garfunkel had the minor hit "Hey Schoolgirl," under the name "Tom and Jerry." Simon was just 16 years old at the time. It was a good song, but very derivative of the Everly Brothers. Simon then spent the next seven years or so writing more derivative songs of the big artists of the day. Most of them were awful.
In the early 1960s, folk music became a very popular trend. Around 1963, Simon drastically changed his style from rock and roll to folk. Somehow in that process, his songwriting ability improved by several orders of magnitude. Only about a year later, he would write "The Sound of Silence," clearly one of the greatest songs of all time. I would really like to know how Simon went from a hack to a genius after already being a songwriter for many years.
Anyway, it turns out that as Simon switched to folk music, he (and sometimes Garfunkel with him) wrote and/or sang some actually good songs that have basically been utterly forgotten. Understandably, Simon would prefer that everything he did prior to 1965 be completely forgotten, with the possible exception of his "Hey Schoolgirl" hit. So his early recordings have remained extremely rare, coming out on albums of dubious legality or outright bootlegs.
It was a painful job for me slogging through this early material, but I found some gems in all the crap. Simon was so bad for so many years that I only found one good song after his 1957 hit until 1963, and that was a 1961 song, "Private World," that was actually written and sung by Art Garfunkel! (I don't know why Garfunkel stopped writing songs, because at that point he arguably was better at it than Simon.)
Aside from the fluke of that 1957 hit and that 1961 Garfunkel song, this collection really begins in 1963. Seemingly out of nowhere, Simon began writing really good folk songs like "Carlos Dominguez." However, it should be pointed out that some of the songs here are actually covers, like "River," "Linstead Market," and "Zombie Jamboree." There was steady improvement in 1964. But even that year, Simon still was attempting song awful songs, usually of the derivative rock and roll that he'd been doing for years. For instance, that year Simon and Garfunkel recorded a version of the kids' song "Bingo," the one with the lyric "There was a farmer who had a dog, and Bingo was his name-o." Trust me, you don't want to hear it.
Despite songs like that, I believe the songs I've chosen here are all good, and about the same level as the songs on the first Simon and Garfunkel album, the lesser known "Wednesday Morning, 3 AM." If you like that, you'll like this. Though be warned that Garfunkel is only featured on about half the songs.
By the way, the ONLY song on this album that Simon hasn't disowned himself from is the last one, "A Church Is Burning." Simon and Garfunkel played that song in concert at least through 1967, so it's made it onto some official albums, including a live album. But the version here is a still unreleased version from a BBC radio show.
In gathering up all of Simon and Garfunkel's stray tracks, I found there were two albums' worth from their classic 1960s era. I'll follow this album with a stronger collection covering 1966 to 1970.
01. Hey Schoolgirl (Simon & Garfunkel)
02. Private World (Simon & Garfunkel)
03. Carlos Dominguez (Paul Simon)
04. River (Paul Simon)
05. Linstead Market (Paul Simon)
06. Zombie Jamboree (Paul Simon)
07. Forever and After (Paul Simon)
08. Yesterday's Little Girl (Simon & Garfunkel)
09. House Carpenter (Paul Simon)
10. Gospel Ship (Paul Simon)
11. Pretty Boy Floyd (Paul Simon)
12. I Can't Help but Wonder Where I'm Bound (Simon & Garfunkel)
13. The Side of a Hill (Simon & Garfunkel)
14. Bad News Feeling (Simon & Garfunkel)
15. A Church Is Burning (Simon & Garfunkel)
The cover photo was taken in January 1958, back when Simon and Garfunkel were known as Tom and Jerry. By the way, for most of the songs here other aliases were used, but for simplicity's sake I only used their real names.