The Jewish Elvis Rides Again
Some call him the Jewish Elvis; others, a cheesy pop star 30 years past his prime. But one thing can be agreed on by all pop music aficionadoes: he's written some of the most classic and catchy pop tunes in the history of recorded music. With this latest release, 12 Songs, Diamond teams up with legendary diverse Alt. producer Rick Rubin (Beastie Boys, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Johnny Cash) to produce a raw, stripped down sound. What results is a heartfelt psalm from an aged artist, a piece of work that exemplifies the meaning of singer-songwriter. You won't find Song Sung Blue in this set. No uppidy Porcupine Pie. No warm loves songs to Caroline. No, in this set Neil lets known the side of him so masterfully set fourth in his classic, Solitary Man. This is aged angst at it's best, a bitter reflection on a long life lived.
Neil Diamond was born in Brooklyn to a relatively normal Jewish family. He received his first guitar at 16. He sung in his high school choir with Barbra Streisand. He was destined for stardom. He first gained credibility as a pop songwriter with the Monkees' hit, I'm a Believer, and soon after he developed a live following of fans. However, it wasn't until his professional relationship with the Band's Robbie Robertson, which led him to being featured in the Last Waltz, that respect was finally solidified, at least for me, as a classic songwriter. Some still hated him, and rightly so, he can get downright annoying. But, if you should only listen to one Diamond record from start to finish, this is the one.
The hair may be gone, but the chops remain.