Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Forever Diamond

Today in Music History:

In 1984, Ozzy Osbourne was arrested in Memphis, Tennessee for ‘staggering drunk’ down Beale Street.
Diamond coversBack in Feb. of this year I did a post about one of my all time favorite artists. Neil Diamond. Trying to condense everything that is great about Neil into a short readable post is nearly impossible.There is just too much info about Neil Diamond and my mind goes into mental meltdown just trying to figure out how to begin writing. One of the greatest singer/songwriters of our time. Neil's so damned good that he makes my brain hurt (in a good way)thinking about it. Not only is he an outstanding solo artist but the list of performers who have recorded his songs ranges from pop, rock, R&B, folk, country, jazz, reggae, punk, heavy metal, alternative, easy listening, and new age. The sheer volume of artists who have recorded his stuff is staggering. Judging by that list, these artists recognize a well-crafted song when they see one, no matter what musical genre they represent. Inarguably, Neil Diamond knows how to write a great song. In a career that spans 45 years, Neil is still kicking ass. Over 120 million records sold and yet another artist with no Hall of Fame recognition. The Neil Diamond sound can be described like this: 1) a soft reflective intro 2) slow burn build up 3) and then a clouds-parting chorus that makes the hairs on the back of your neck stand up. If by the third part your arms are not wanting to reach up high in triumphant gloryof the moment, then it's possible you have no soul.

Diamond was born and raised in Brooklyn, attending high school with Barbra Streisand (and singing with her in the school choir). He learned to play guitar after receiving one as a gift on his 16th birthday. In the early sixties he worked as a songwriter at the Brill Building in New York City which was like a song factory, before branching out and singing his own stuff. Neil Diamond became a star in 1966 with his first two hits as a solo performer “Solitary Man” and “Cherry, Cherry” followed by the release of his wildly popular album Touching You, Touching Me, but his first #1 single was achieved as a songwriter. TV pop stars The Monkees topped the charts with “I’m A Believer,” followed by “A Little Bit You, A Little Bit Me” in 1967. Diamond became a permanent fixture on the Billboard charts both as a performer and a songwriter. In some occurrences, Diamond would watch a single song rise up the charts more than once – first as his own recording, then again as another performer’s recording. Both Diamond and rock band Deep Purple had hits with “Kentucky Woman,” Bobby Womack followed Diamond up the charts with his own version of “Sweet Caroline,” and Jr. Walker & The Allstars had a hit with Diamond’s “Holly Holy.” Releasing cover versions of other performers’ songs is certainly not unusual, but these singles were all released and rose up the charts within 1-3 years of each other, which attests to the strength of the songs themselves.

On May 23rd, Shout! Factory will celebrate the songwriting talents of superstar musician and performer Neil Diamond with a new collection of songs on CD. Recorded by a tremendously varied group of artists over an equally expansive period of time, Forever Neil Diamond showcases the wide appeal of 14 Diamond-penned classics. After listening to the album it's clear that many genres have been represented. acouple tracks on this collection are sure to be familiar to most listeners, such as the Monkees, Deep Purple, UB40 and Urge Overkill covers. Towards the end of his career Elvis Presley recorded a number of Neil Diamond songs. It was nice to see the not as well known, and the Grass won't Mind by the King being included here. Rarely has Elvis sounded so good. If you like some steamy sax playing thenJr. Walker and the All-Stars version of Holly Holy recorded in 1970 will get you hot. for this collection Shout! Factory dug up some less heard gems like Glory Road, The Boat that I Row and Ain't No Way. The 14 tracks here cover a span of years from the sixties to the current time frame with indie artists Crooked Fingers covering Solitary Man. Keep an eye out for the album, especially if you're a serious Diamond fan.

The Monkees – “A Little Bit Me, A Little Bit You”
Bobby Womack – “Sweet Caroline (Good Times Never Seemed So Good)”
The Box Tops – “Ain’t No Way”
Urge Overkill – “Girl, You’ll Be A Woman Soon”
Deep Purple – “Kentucky Woman”
Elvis Presley – “And The Grass Won’t Pay No Mind”
Crooked Fingers – “Solitary Man”
Shane McGowan & The Popes – “Cracklin’ Rosie”
UB40 – “Red Red Wine”
Arthur Alexander – “Glory Road”
Four Tops – “I’m A Believer”
Lulu – “The Boat That I Row”
Jr. Walker & The All-Stars – “Holly Holy”
The Band with Neil Diamond – “Dry Your Eyes”

Solitary Man
by Crooked Fingers

Glory Road by Arthur Alexander
Buy It

Funny Toon