Thirty-three live songs, with most of Neil Diamond’s hit singles from the ‘60s, ‘70s and ‘80s, run for over 2 hours on this 2 CD, 1 DVD (including a Blu-ray option) new package, from Capitol/UMe of an exciting 2012 concert. Celebration of the 40th anniversary of the 1972 Hot August Night double-live album is the foundation for this exciting new release.
BY WARREN KURTZ
The concert begins with an “Overture” provided by his 11 person back-up band, blending powerfully into the 1970 single “Soolaimon.” Its original flip side, “And the Grass Won’t Pay No Mind,” which was also was covered later in 1970 by Mark Lindsay and reached No. 44, is given similar placement here as the first song on the second CD. It brings a gentle and melodic start to that disc before going to the newest track, 2008’s “Pretty Amazing Grace,” featuring the full band and a Latin style instrumental break.
Flip side: And the Grass Won’t Pay No Mind
A side: Soolaimon (African Trilogy II)
Top 100 Debut: July 11, 1970
Peak Position: 30
Neil Diamond's band, which has been with him for 35 years, are introduced with solos in an extended version of his first hit single “Cherry, Cherry.” Three female back-up vocalists bring depth to “Girl, You’ll Be a Woman Soon.” Hadley Hockensmith’s electric guitar part on “Thank the Lord for the Night Time” is outstanding.
Honoring UB40’s number one gold single cover of Neil Diamond’s “Red, Red Wine,” a reggae beat is added to the song. With “I’m a Believer,” a two-part treatment is delivered. First, he offers a gentle approach to the song, stating this is how it was originally written, sounding a bit like his performance of “Play Me,” which is also included earlier in the show. Then, after discussing the worldwide number one success that The Monkees brought to that song, the full band is back, delivering a rock and roll treatment. The camera work and sound clarity on this segment and on all the numbers is near perfect.
Early in the concert, “Beautiful Noise” is packed with power. The delivery of “Forever in Blue Jeans” shows the country music potential in the composition.
In the middle of the show, Neil Diamond’s storytelling talent is on display with a pair of album cuts, “Glory Road” from 1969’s Brother Love’s Travelling Salvation Show album and “Morningside” from 1972’s Moods album.
His “Stones” single flip side, “Crunchy Granola Suite,” is given a lively treatment and precedes the crowd sing-a-long fun favorite “Sweet Caroline.” Encore songs follow, beginning with “America.”
Flip side: Crunchy Granola Suite
A side: Stones
Top 100 Debut: November 13, 1971 – A side
Top 100 Debut: January 8, 1972 – flip side
Peak Position: 14
With Neil Diamond’s announcement this year to retire from touring, this 2018 entertaining package, including a colorful 22 page booklet, is one that fans will treasure.
Warren Kurtz is a Contributing Editor at Goldmine, known for “Fabulous Flip Sides” along with giveaways, interviews, CD, DVD and book reviews. “Warren’s Fabulous Flip Sides” can be heard most Saturday mornings, in the 9 a.m. hour, Eastern time, as part of “Moments to Remember” at wvcr.com or iHeart Radio – search WVCR.