Saturday, March 12, 2011


Neil Diamond is this year's inductee into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame that I've had the most trouble with. He certainly belongs in the Songwriters Hall of Fame. But I just have trouble with seeing him as rock and roll.  The newly released Bang Years 1966-1968 collection has helped me out a bit though. If you're a bit cynical about Neil being "rock and roll," I'd suggest trying this single CD collection out, and thinking of Neil as part of the tradition of The Everly Brothers or The Mamas and The Papas (his cover of "Monday Monday" is on this set). The other thing that makes this particular collection a real treat is the lengthy essay written by Neil himself, talking about his long era as a starving artist.  That's not the way we think of him anymore, but he worked longer and harder than many artists before "making it." This is really the main era of Neil that I like - I think producer Rick Rubin feels the same way, because that's the feel he seemed to be going for on 2005's 12 Songs and 2008's Home Before Dark. By the way, those albums are worth picking up, or downloading a few songs from.  I really like "Save Me A Saturday Night" from 12 Songs.

Want more of a career-spanning deal? It's a bit confusing, the guy has a ton of different "greatest hits" and "best of" collections.  I always find it annoying when they keep repackaging repackages.  But anyway, 2001's 2 CD set The Essential Neil Diamond covers his whole career up to that point - if you buy that and download a few tracks from the Rubin albums, it's a good overview. If you're in box set mode, go for the 3 CD In My Lifetime.

I hope to have a testimonial from a real fan - filmmaker, media exec and a singer-songwriter that Neil himself should check out, Benjamin Wagner. Look for that in the next few days.

1 comment:

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