The Very Best of Neil Diamond
by David Chiu
There has to be something special about an artist whose popularity still remains high into his sixth decade of music. That certainly applies to Neil Diamond, whose body of work traces back to the era of ’60s Brill Building pop music. This new release is unique because it collects all of Diamond’s studio hits from the Bang, Uni and Columbia years in one single disc—no live versions of the Uni hits as was the case in past compilations, but the actual studio recordings. Diamond’s music has been the soundtrack of generations with the common thread being heartfelt lyrics, a catchy hook, and his soulful vocal style. His music has gone through an evolution, from the very country-rootsy rock of “Cherry Cherry” and “Girl You’ll Be a Woman” Soon; to the relaxed sing along tracks of “Song Sung Blue,” “Sweet Caroline” and “Cracklin’ Rosie”; to the lush pop balladry of his classic duet with Barbra Streisand on “You Don’t Bring Me Flowers,” the angstful and devastating “Love on the Rocks” and the tender “Hello Again.” More recently, Diamond has made some strong recordings particularly from the Rick Rubin-produced albums such as “Pretty Amazing Grace” and the uplifting “Hell Yeah,” showcasing the musician’s talent at its bare essence without the Vegas-like trappings. It’s amazing how many great and memorable songs fit into one disc–If you never buy another Neil Diamond studio album, this set delivers pretty much delivers the goods.