The Very Best Of Neil Diamond:
The Original Studio Recordings

Neil Diamond

A career spanning over 50 years. Over 125 million albums sold worldwide (16 Top 10 and 37 Top 40 singles). A Grammy winner, a Songwriter Hall Of Famer, a Golden Globe winner and a 2009 MusiCares Person of the Year. I guess you could say Neil Diamond is pretty much a monster talent with many accolades. If you needed any more evidence, The Very Best Of Neil Diamond: The Original Studio Recordings is a 23-song collection that pretty much puts the icing on the cake.

As the man himself says in the Recollections liner notes penned especially for this collection: "I wish I could personally thank the hundreds of musicians, arrangers, and engineers who, along with the producers, spent long days and nights in studios around the country to make these recordings vibrate and thrilling. As a songwriter I can only humbly bow down and thank them all from the depths of my heart for giving wings to my dreams." The Very Best Of Neil Diamond: The Original Studio Recordings is filled with thrills, dreams and vibrations.

There's that distinctive, arpeggiated electric piano opening of "Love On The Rocks," made famous in the remake of The Jazz Singer. The hand claps come to the fore on early hits like "Cherry, Cherry" and "I'm A Believer." And that quick vocal to the sly "Girl, You'll Be A Woman Soon" makes this song a strong example of how poetic and direct Diamond could be in his early years.

"Holly Holy" with its stark piano and low bass, "Song Sung Blue" with its light electric piano and catchy chorus - these see the full resonance of Neil Diamond's voice. Things do get a little middle-of-the-road on "You Don't Bring Me Flowers," a Barbara Streisand duet with a decent set of lyrics, and the gospel-flavored "Brother Love's Traveling Salvation Show." Plus, the string-laden "Hello Again" and "God Knows "America" are a bit schmaltzy. Under any circumstances, this is Neil Diamond - take him or leave him.

"Hell, Yeah," from 2005's 12 Songs album produced by Rick Rubin, represents Diamond's more recent work. Covering a career so rich and extensive is no easy feat, especially on a single CD. The Very Best Of Neil Diamond: The Original Studio Recordings manages it pretty damn well.

~ ~ Ralph Greco, Jr.

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