Subject: I have found a CD that I think you would enjoy
Genres: Pop, Rock
One of the year's most heavily-anticipated new releases, 12 Songs pairs the pop music icon with legendary producer Rick Rubin. Producing a Neil Diamond album has been a long-time dream for Rubin, whose extraordinary resum... more »
One of the year's most heavily-anticipated new releases, 12 Songs pairs the pop music icon with legendary producer Rick Rubin. Producing a Neil Diamond album has been a long-time dream for Rubin, whose extraordinary resume spans the history of hip-hop from LL Cool J to Jay Z, the world of hardcore rock from Slayer to System Of A Down, and the pantheon of mythic stars from Tom Petty and Donovan to Mick Jagger and Johnny Cash's immortal Grammy-winning American Recordings series. "Most of the songs were recorded with Neil playing and singing at the same time," said Rick Rubin in a Rolling Stone article (9/22/05) profiling the producer, "and it's a different animal. It's taking him back to being more of a singer-songwriter. He really blows me away." When it came time to record 12 Songs, Rick Rubin assembled a sympathetic ensemble of musicians to capture the essence of Neil Diamond's extraordinary new songs, each of them a finely-wrought gem, soul-searching, honest, yearning, and powerful. A core group of musicians made up of Mike Campbell (guitar) and Benmont Tench (piano/organ) from Tom Petty's Heartbreakers and guitarist Smokey Hormel (Beck, Tom Waits) and other musicians including the renowned Larry Knechtel (piano) and Billy Preston (organ) played on the album. The track listing for 12 Songs is: "Oh Mary," "Hell Yeah," "Captain of a Shipwreck," "Evermore," "Save Me A Saturday Night," "Delirious Love," "I'm On To You," "What's It Gonna Be," "Man of God," "Create Me," "Face Me," and "We." A special digipak edition of 12 Songs features two bonus tracks: "Men Are So Easy" and an alternate version of "Delirious Love" with guest artist Brian Wilson. "?.judging by eight finished tracks," wrote Lorraine Ali, previewing 12 Songs for Newsweek (August 1, 2005), "this is the best work Diamond has done in 30 years."
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Glorious return to form
G. Vernon | Seattle, WA USA | 11/09/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"To put my review in perspective, I'll just mention that I am a thirtysomething male who grew up listening to Neil Diamond thanks to my parents' and grandparents' robust Neil Diamond collections. Before I had purchased my own first vinyl I knew all the words to "Song Sung Blue."
I'm not just a Neil fan, but he's been part of the soundtrack of my life from the word go.
As such I've bought many of his releases since the glory days of the late 70's, and each one was successful or not to varying degrees. Most of all I missed the troubador Neil, the solitary man with guitar. The aching longing and loneliness in his vocals, the genius behind "Stones" (my all-time favorite Neil album).
All I can say is: Neil, at long last, after two decades-plus wandering in the wilderness, has at last come home.
This is the richest--and yet simplest-- collection of Neil Diamond tunes since the 70s. He's not trying to hip it up, he's not trying to appeal to a certain audience segment, he's just being NEIL. And sweet Lordy what a beautiful noise.
With only simple piano flourishes and the solitary guitar we loved from the very beginning, Neil delivers a full album of Neil Diamond compositions. No Alan & Marilyn Bergman love songs for Neil and Barbara (although a lovely duet with Brian Wilson of the Beach Boys fits very well).
I want to shout about this album from the mountaintops. "Hell Yeah" indeed. Neil has come home to make a Neil Diamond album that is destined to sit among "Stones" and "Moods" as one of the strongest collections of songs that he's ever delivered. Really, if you know anyone who left Neil's camp over the past couple decades, tell them to come back. Neil did and he sounds better than ever."
Pre-Fab Diamond Hardly in the Rough and in Peak Form Thanks
Ed Uyeshima | San Francisco, CA USA | 11/10/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"What a genuine surprise to hear a Neil Diamond album that doesn't make me instantly wish I was listening to one of his golden hits of the early 1970's. An expert performer who still draws devoted throngs of baby boomers, Diamond has let his relevance as a singer-songwriter diminish over the past thirty years in favor of easy listening radio and lucrative concert tours. In fact, it's easy to forget that he hasn't done anything that has challenged him artistically since 1976's "Beautiful Noise". Enter Rick Rubin, a renegade producer who has done landmark albums for the likes of the Beastie Boys, Jay-Z, the Red Hot Chili Peppers and most relevantly, the late Johnny Cash on his acoustic 1994 return to form, "American Recordings". The equally unlikely collaboration between Diamond and Rubin has yielded, hands down, one of the best Neil Diamond recordings ever.
Rubin obviously forced Diamond's hand in abandoning the performer's predilection for overproduction and variety showmanship in favor of a leaner sound that allows him to move toward a more introspective and resonant direction. Such emotional consistency over the course of a full album never reflected Diamond's personality. For instance, in the past, he could not sing a romantic ballad like "Hello Again" without including crowd-pleasing bombast such as "America". However, even with the tonal constraints put on him, Diamond still shows an unfettered knack for composing songs with compelling melodies and sharp hooks. The opening track, "Oh Mary", is a sweet ballad where Diamond repeats the title as a forlorn mantra. The familiar-sounding "Hell Yeah", "Captain of a Shipwreck" and especially "Evermore" (which instantly recalls "I Am I Said") showcase his theatrical sense within an atmosphere of intimacy. He expresses a palpable yearning on the pop ballad, "Save Me a Saturday Night", that aches with a slow dance tempo.
With its powerfully rhythmic guitar chords, my favorite song is the percolating "Delirious Love", which soars with Diamond's testosterone-driven romantic energy. "I'm on to You" brings a nice jazzy vibe to its finger-snapping tale of romantic deceit. The loping, country-twanged beat on ''What's It Gonna Be" reflects a world-weariness in the singer that makes the chorus turn into a resigned ultimatum to a straying lover. Moving toward higher ground, Diamond takes on spiritual renewal with the gospel-tinged "Man of God", and as an appropriate follow-up, Billy Preston's Hammond organ opens the touching "Create Me" as if it's the beginning of a church procession. A Mexican standoff between two lovers marks the romantic melodrama of "Face Me", which sounds eerily like the tumbleweed theme of a Sergio Leone spaghetti western. The Dixieland melody of "We" is the closest Diamond comes to kitsch here, but he keeps it in check with the catchy lyrics.
The Digi-Pak version is worth the premium on the price tag for the two bonus tracks. The first is the achingly beautiful "Men Are So Easy", which contains perceptive observations about growing up. The second is perhaps the most infectious track on the whole recording - a redo of "Delirious Love" as a duet with Brian Wilson that converts the song into Pet Sounds-era Beach Boys with their trademark swooping harmonies. The core ensemble - Diamond, Mike Campbell of the Heartbreakers and Smokey Hormel on guitars and another Heartbreaker, Benmont Tech, on keyboards - perform expertly throughout. This is a pop masterwork by a talent too long in the artistic trenches."
Neil Diamond - 12 Songs
Iris Gerhardt | Independence, MO | 11/11/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This is an amazing CD, possibly the best work Neil Diamond has ever done. He sings from the heart. He pours out his soul. The simplicity makes every song sparkle like the true Diamond that sings them."