This one takes some work, but is worth the effort
Shelley Mckibbon | Halifax, NS | 03/19/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"The second album by Blue Rodeo is the one producer Pete Anderson said was so long, he couldn't get through it. In the opinion of this reviewer, Pete Anderson is a wuss!Seriously, there is some very good stuff on this album, and the difficult bits are rewarding if you give them a chance. There are angry political songs ("God and Country" and "Fuse") from Greg Keelor and one from Jim Cuddy ("How Long," which manages to include a great sing-along chorus while shredding the politician of your choice -- I have always pictured Brian Mulroney as the target of this song but take your pick!). The title track, "Diamond Mine," is a standout. Trust Greg Keelor to give us a love song that sounds like a diatribe. Trust keyboardist Bob Wiseman to create an atmosphere that makes this dichotomy seem reasonable. Jim Cuddy contributes a couple of beauts -- "House of Dreams" and "Girl of Mine" -- that do nothing to dispell his image as the heartbroken crooner of the band. By the time he gets to the more uptempo "One Day" ("One day, out of the blue, I'll just walk away") the listener nods sympathetically but does not believe for a second that this character is ever going to leave whoever it is he's singing about. By the end of the album Greg's vision has taken over again. He does contribute one song about loving and losing that makes it clear that if nothing else he has a sense of humour -- "Florida," about being abandoned in "the land of endless malls" by a girlfriend ("the last words I heard you say were 'what a bore'") has an uptempo rock beat that makes it clear that, however heartbroken the character was at the time, he's over it now. The last song on the album, "The Ballad of the Dime Store Greaser and the Blonde Mona Lisa," is a cautionary tale about love gone wrong because the lovers weren't paying close enough attention. Keelor sings that one with a bemused sympathy that makes the story more wistful than grotesque, but doesn't ignore the ridiculousness of the situation either. (How often are we reminded that sometimes the characters in "love gone wrong" songs are just plain stupid?)Overall, not an album that will infatuate you on the first listen -- but not one you'll get sick of in a week, either."
Maddeningly Inconsistent - Weird Scenes Inside the Diamond M
Peter Walenta | Long Island, New York USA | 11/25/2007
(3 out of 5 stars)
"Greg Keelor was quoted as saying once that the original title for Blue Rodeo's sophomore album was `diamond mind' with an implied emphasis on the cerebral. Instead the title that finally appeared on the cover, "Diamond Mine", more aptly describes what lies within this record...brilliant gems ("How Long") mixed with ordinary rocks ("Girl of Mine"). Other reviewers have already identified the inconsistent song writing and thematic structure that characterizes "Diamond Mine"; an album released at the dawn of the cd era which clocks in at almost 61 minutes. By far the stand out gem is the title track, "Diamond Mine", Keelor's demented love song propelled to manic and anarchic rock epic by the alternately dark slow burning and hot frenzied jazz-rock organ work of former keyboardist, Bob Wiseman. The next song, Jim Cuddy's brilliantly sad accordion-tinged ballad "Now and Forever", lays out the blueprint for the more laid back folk rock and alt.country veins that Blue Rodeo would mine with great success on later albums. "Diamond Mine", is a post card of early Blue Rodeo at its' most daring and at its' frustratingly most pedestrian. "House of Dreams" and "Nice Try" sung by Cuddy and Keelor respectively typify what was so very ordinary on "Diamond Mine". Not that either song is unpleasant, but given the bracing experimental jazz sounds of "Diamond Mine" and the spirited sing along melodic country-rock of "How Long", for Blue Rodeo to then drift into thin atmospheric Chris Isaak and weak tuned Elvis Costello territory was disappointing, yet in retrospect understandable. Back in 1989 when "Diamond Mine" was released, Blue Rodeo was poised to conquer the United States. 1987's "Outskirts" had received rave reviews especially from Rolling Stone magazine and Blue Rodeo had become a major draw in their native Canada. That so many songs on "Diamond Mine" seem stuck in the rock styles that were in vogue at the time (and now sound dated) is partly explained by the desire to produce a radio friendly "hit" for the U.S. market. Said hit never materialized. What remains is an uneven album that has some brilliantly shining moments, but which ultimately lacks any unifying or cohesive theme. Thus, the humourous semi-autobiographical love gone wrong song, "Florida", is followed up by the just plain kooky "Fuse", a rather poorly drawn vignette of a psychopath and/or politician. (Take your pick!)
Bottom line, if you're a fan of Blue Rodeo, you will probably already have this album. Just getting into Blue Rodeo? You can get the unedited "Diamond Mine" in all of its' epochal demented jazz-rock glory on 2001's "Greatest Hits, Vol. 1". "Diamond Mine" is an album primarily for die hard Blue Rodeo fans, but may also be recommended for those who are curious to hear the uneven roots of a uniquely honest roots rock band. 3 1/2 Stars."