In five era-defining albums for Columbia—Wednesday Morning, 3 A.M.; Sounds of Silence; Parsley, Sage, Rosemary & Thyme; Bookends; and Bridge Over Troubled Water—Paul Simon and Art Ga

In five era-defining albums for Columbia—Wednesday Morning, 3 A.M.; Sounds of Silence; Parsley, Sage, Rosemary & Thyme; Bookends; and Bridge Over Troubled Water—Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel personified the folk-rock ethos of the '60s. Boxed together (the reissues, each with bonus tracks, are also available individually), the discs show a fascinating progression: Wednesday Morning, 3 A.M., the duo's overlooked debut, preceded their pop breakthrough, "The Sound of Silence," and includes an acoustic version of the hit, along with such traditional folk songs as "Peggy-O." The lead track on the duo's sophomore set (Sounds of Silence)—an intensified "remake" of "The Sound of Silence"—brings the then-fresh term "folk rock" into full focus. The set also propels Simon's songwriting (consider the hit "I Am a Rock") into high gear. Vocally, the pair proved itself to be more than sweet harmonizers, wailing away on the street-gospel "Blessed." Parsely, Sage, Rosemary & Thyme continued in the folk-rock vein (albeit with the decidedly anti-war bent of the lead track, "Scarborough Fair/Canticle," and closer "7 O'Clock News/Silent Night"). But Bookends, which included "Mrs. Robinson" (from the film The Graduate) and anthropomorphic hit "At the Zoo," was more heavily produced and conceptually brilliant. Garfunkel's ethereal vocal on "Bridge Over Troubled Water," the title track of the pair's final album, was a fitting swan song, while the set's other hits, particularly "Cecilia" and "El Condor Pasa (If I Could)," signalled the beginning of the world-music direction that Simon would eventually take. Despite his equally spectacular success as a solo artist, there will always be those baby boomers who look back to Simon & Garfunkel as the songwriter's greatest achievement. This set could be further testimony.—JB