Forever Neil Diamond
First Appeared in The Music Box, July 2006, Volume 13, #7
Written by Tracy M. Rogers
Neil Diamond began his career as a Brill Building songwriter whose material was covered by pop acts such as The Monkees and The Four Tops. Shout! Factory’s latest compilation Forever Neil Diamond is a celebration of his work. With tracks that range from early recordings by Lulu and Bobby Womack to covers by contemporary artists Shane McGowan and the Popes, UB40, and Urge Overkill, Forever Neil Diamond is an intriguing, if somewhat uneven, tribute. Soul and R&B flavors permeate the collection, and the best of these include The Four Tops’ I’m a Believer and Arthur Alexander’s Glory Road. Naturally, straightforward pop fare also is prevalent, and Lulu’s The Boat I Row is a powerful and poignant anthem, while The Monkees’ A Little Bit Me, A Little Bit You is just good fun.
Nevertheless, the more interesting pairings on Forever Neil Diamond include Elvis Presley’s Memphis-imbued version of And the Grass Won’t Pay No Mind, Deep Purple’s hard rock-meets-soul interpretation of Kentucky Woman, and Diamond’s collaboration with The Band on the guitar-heavy Dry Your Eyes, which was plucked from the concert featured in Martin Scorsese’s film The Last Waltz. The highlight of the outing, however, is Crooked Fingers’ banjo and horn rendition of Solitary Man, which evokes both loneliness and desperation. Through other people’s interpretations of his songs, Forever Neil Diamond captures the essence of Diamond as a songwriter, and although its diverse, genre-jumping styles don’t always mesh, the product still serves as an enjoyable history lesson. ½
Forever Neil Diamond is available from Barnes & Noble.
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1 Star: Pitiful
2 Stars: Listenable
3 Stars: Respectable
4 Stars: Excellent
5 Stars: Can't Live Without It!!
Copyright © 2006 The Music Box