Tuneage Tutelage - Music Review - Neil Diamond

Sparks Of Insanity By Vinny "Bond" Marini Monday, May 12, 2008

NEIL DIAMOND. My experience is, there are three camps when it comes to Neil Diamond. There is, of course, the fans who L-O-V-E Neil Diamond. Then there is the camp that just do not get the attraction to Neil Diamond. And then the third camp who have always been ambivalent about Mr. Diamond.

Right here and now, I will state that I fit into the third camp for the most part. There are songs that I enjoy but I have never owned a Neil Diamond album, cassette or CD.

I was interested in hearing his new outing when I heard that Rick Ruben was the producer for this project. If you do not know Rick Ruben, THIS is from the NY Times. It is a 10 page article, so if you want Rick Ruben Lite, you can read of him HERE.

Rick Ruben produced Johnny Cash's last album and I love how he gets to the rawness of any artist he produces. So, putting Rick with Neil sounded like a choice idea.

The first thing that struck me about HOME BEFORE DARK is, even though there is a full band playing on many of the songs and even an entire string section on others, the sound of the album is basic. The main instrument you hear is Neil's voice. Behind that you can hear the guitar and piano and the rest of the instruments, but they are merely the canvas Neil Diamond is painting on.

Unlike Cash's album where Rubin selected a collection of currect songs for Johnny to craft, this album is all Neil Diamond. An album that he spent 10-months working on before even entering the studio.

On "Pretty Amazing Grace" there are layers of guitars over the strings and piano with Neil's voice weaving in and out. Tempo changes allow the song to flow out of your speakers. You can see a streaming video of the song HERE.

The CD comes with a small brochure and Mr. Diamond outlines the process by which this album took birth. He talks about isolating himself from the world and "most of all, other peoples' music", and the uneasiness this isolation causes.

The album's music comes from his faith and the feelings a new love relationship has brought to him. He speaks of how a friend told him that he should feel lucky to have "another bite of the apple"...another chance to be successful in love and that comment translates to the song "One More Bite Of The Apple", a song that will sound comfortable for Diamond fans.

On "Slow It Down", Neil looks at the world we are all caught up in, and makes the simple suggestion to "See the view, it's for you, just pay some attention" and "Forget about the competition, you're due for an intermission". The music behind the lyrics remind me of floating down the river , slowly enjoying the water carrying you along.

The album was crafted in the studio without charts for the musicians, just Neil Diamonds lyrics and chords and each song was crafted as a group effort. The backing band improvising and adding their skills.

What has been put on vinyl - YES, you can by this on vinyl also - and CD is a uplifting experience. For you Diamond fans, you will be extremely happy. For those of you in camp three, this is the album by Neil Diamond you want to add to your collection. For those of you in group two, those who are not fans, give it a try...you might just surprise yourself.

THE COUCH RATES THIS ALBUM: Home Before Dark by Neil Diamond:

+ 1/2 Turntables (2.5 Out Of 4)

Neil Diamond is touring behind this effort.
19 St. Paul, MN - Xcel Energy Center
22 Sioux City, IA - Tyson Events Center
24 Omaha, NE - Qwest Center Omaha
26 Chicago, IL - United Center
29 Indianapolis, IN - Conseco Fieldhouse
31 Detroit, MI - The Palace of Auburn Hills

3 Cleveland, OH - Quicken Loans Arena
5 Washington, DC - Verizon Center
7 Hartford, CT - XL Center
9 Philadelphia, PA - Wachovia Center
12 New York, NY - Madison Square Garden
18 Pittsburgh, PA - Mellon Arena
20 Albany, NY - Times Union Center
23 Boston, MA - Fenway Park
25 Columbus, OH - Value City Arena at The Schottenstein Center
27 Green Bay, WI - Resch Center
29 St. Louis, MO - Scottrade Center

14 Winnipeg, MB - MTS Center
16 Edmonton, AB - Rexall Place
18 Calgary, AB - Pengrowth Saddledome
20 Vancouver, BC - General Motors Place
22 Portland, OR - Rose Garden
24 Seattle, WA - KeyArena at Seattle Center
26 Sacramento, CA - ARCO Arena
28 San Jose, CA - HP Pavilion

1 Los Angeles, CA - Hollywood Bowl
7 San Diego, CA - San Diego Sports Arena
10 Phoenix, AZ - Jobing.com Arena
12 San Antonio, TX - AT&T Center
14 Houston, TX - Toyota Center
17 Dallas, TX - American Airlines Center
19 Oklahoma City, OK - Ford Center
21 Tulsa, OK - BOK Center
24 Tampa, FL - St. Pete Times Forum
26 Ft. Lauderdale, FL - BankAtlantic Center
28 Orlando, FL - Amway Arena Orlando
30 Jacksonville, FL - Jacksonville Veterans Memorial Arena

19 Of Your Sparks

  1. Liz Hill Says:
  2. Hmmm--I sorta like some Neil Diamond songs.

    I found "Pretty Amazing Grace" to be BORING so I hope there is another example on there.

  3. Julie Says:
  4. Thanks for having Neil here! You know he's on of my old time favs! I'm not crazy about this new effort. Maybe it just has to grow on you.

    I'll take the old stuff when Neal was in his prime and full of life. How DID he get old? *sigh*

  5. DrillerAA Says:
  6. I've always been in camp 3. I like and will listen to the music that gets air play, but I too have never owned a Neil Diamond album. I may at least have to sample this one.

  7. Schmoop Says:
  8. Neil Diamond certainly is a talent as is so is Rubin, but man, I just can't listen to any of Neil's stuff after his Hot August Night live album. Cheers Vinny!!

  9. TURNBABY: Another third camp person. There is something about the simplicity of this album that grabbed me.

    JULIE: See maybe I misinterpreted what his real fans would like.

    DRILLERAA: Sample and see...

    MATT-MAN: Seems you are in the same boat as Julie. Maybe his real fans need that BIGNESS that this album does not fulfill.

  10. I am definitely in the third camp - but I'm not inclined to make an investment after just a 1/2-star rating.

  11. RWA: I guess that was not clear...the rating is 2.5 turntables

  12. leelee Says:
  13. I saw/heard ND Play on American Idol recently. I thought he looked really good for being 67!!!! Really damn good. As far as his music goes. I grew up on Neil and even as I was older..I did like his sappy stuff like September Morn..because he always puts so much emotion into his music. He is a legend. That being said. I never owned one of his albums. I think I had the Sweet Caroline single when I was a kid. But that's about it for me. I think he is great..I mean..come on...he's 67 and still out there recording and touring!

    Rock On Neil!!

    HUGS Vinny!

  14. Travis Cody Says:
  15. I've always been in camp 1. Anytime Neil came on the radio, my mom and my sister and I would yell out "turn it up!"

    I think Neil is one of the all time great singer/song writers and I think his music stands the test of time. I love Pretty Amazing Grace.

    Thanks for the review.

  16. Tug Says:
  17. I like Neil, but like everyone else, the 'big'...but I'll have to check this out - awesome review Bond!

  18. Vinny, I used to like Neil Diamond but I've lost interest as I've lost interest in a lot of old singers...still crazy about Michael McDonald though! :)

  19. Kimmie Says:
  20. When I first heard Pretty Amazing Grace on American Idol, I fell instantly in love with the song. Neil Diamond is pretty amazing himself, still giving everything he's got at 67, what an accomplishment...he has been a favorite of mine for many years. Thanks bond. :-)

  21. BTW, do you know how long it took me to correct all your speeling errors?? Bwahahahahaha!

  22. LEELEE: One of those performers that will continue for a long time I believe

    TRAVIS: I also liked Pretty Amazing Grace and the rest of the album. I think, again for me, it is about the rawness that Rubin got out of him.

    TUG: This is certainly not "BIG"...but it is emotional

    THE TEACH: Well at least you have one old guy you still like...LOL

    KIMMIE: Glad you enjoyed...

    THE TEACH: Hopefully longer than it took to write me to tell me about it ...heheheh knew you would enjoy that comment

  23. katherine. Says:
  24. I think he is way talented as a song writer. Some of his performances I really like...some leave me cold.

    the post was great...good mix of comments from all your readers....

  25. Lu' Says:
  26. Nice tutelage Bond. I enjoyed it. Not a big Diamond, but I like him when he is not being commercialized.

  27. RW Says:
  28. Neil is king baby!

  29. Dana Says:
  30. I absolutely LOVE Neil Diamond, but don't tell anyone because they'll make fun of me *giggle* I've been a fan since the early 80's and will likely always be. Really enjoyed Pretty Amazing Grace and wish like hell I could make the Chicago concert.

    Thanks for the review!!

  31. Just never got it. I am a non Neil fan I am afraid.


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