Although a 2018 Parkinson’s Disease diagnosis effectively ended Neil Diamond’s touring career, the songwriting legend has no plans to stop making music. Recorded between London’s historic Abbey Road Studios and the singer’s own Los Angeles studio, Classic Diamonds is equal parts retrospective and reinterpretation as he revisits 14 of his best known songs with assistance from the London Symphony Orchestra.
Playing with an orchestra is nothing new for Diamond; brass and strings have been a defining characteristic of his music since the late 1960s, both on-stage and in the studio. To that end, it’s almost surprising that a symphonic reimagining of his hits doesn’t already exist. Still, with a catalog as deep as Diamond’s, it’s hard to fault him for playing to his strengths and at 79, he still brings a remarkable amount of emotion and an easy warmth to the experience.
Forgoing his usual band, Classic Diamonds aims for a classy vibe, relying mostly on piano and orchestra to reframe songs like “Beautiful Noise” and “Song Sung Blue,” neither of which resemble their original arrangements. A sweeping overture and deconstructed chord changes breathe new life into the former, while the latter is extended with a newly written intro containing extra lyrics. Produced by Walter Afanasieff who also co-arranged with conductor William Ross, it’s nice to hear Diamond and his collaborators taking liberties with the material, even if not all of them land.
Altering the perky pop classic “I’m a Believer” into a wistful ballad serves up a little too much corn, as does his impassioned reading of Emma Lazarus’ famous sonnet (“Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses…”) to kick off the rousing immigration anthem “America,” though the latter is certainly on-brand for Diamond’s style of earnest showmanship. On the other hand, the sudden appearance of a sitar and exultant choir adds an interesting twist and makes for a bombastic and surprisingly moving version of “Holly Holy.” On the whole, Classic Diamonds feels like somewhat of an unnecessary exercise given the already-lush nature of Diamond’s work, but his performances are uniformly strong and the set contains just enough surprises to prop up the misfires.
1 Beautiful Noise 03:25
2 Hello Again 04:02
3 I Am… I Said 05:04
4 I’m a Believer 03:48
5 Song Sung Blue 04:08
6 September Morn 03:57
7 America 04:04
8 Holly Holy 05:55
9 You Don’t Bring Me Flowers 03:32
10 Play Me 04:42
11 Love on the Rocks 04:06
12 Heartlight 04:46
13 I’ve Been This Way Before 03:44
14 Sweet Caroline 04:22
Neil Leslie Diamond (born January 24, 1941) is an American singer-songwriter and actor. He has sold more than 100 million records worldwide, making him one of the best-selling musicians of all time. He has had ten No. 1 singles on the Hot 100 and Adult Contemporary charts: “Cracklin’ Rosie”, “Song Sung Blue”, “Longfellow Serenade”, “I’ve Been This Way Before”, “If You Know What I Mean”, “Desirée”, “You Don’t Bring Me Flowers”, “America”, “Yesterday’s Songs”, and “Heartlight”. 38 songs by Diamond have featured in the Top 10 on the Billboard Adult Contemporary charts.
Diamond was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 1984 and into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2011, and he received the Sammy Cahn Lifetime Achievement Award in 2000. In 2011, he was an honoree at the Kennedy Center Honors, and he received the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 2018.
In January 2018, Diamond announced that he would immediately retire from touring due to having been diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease. Tour dates on the final leg of Diamond’s “50 Year Anniversary World Tour” in Australia and New Zealand were cancelled. An announcement on his official website said he was not retiring from music and that the cancellation of the live performances would allow him to “continue his writing, recording and development of new projects.”
On July 28, 2018, Diamond and his wife Katie McNeil made a surprise visit to the Incident Command post in Basalt, Colorado – near where Diamond lives – to thank the firefighters and families with a solo acoustic guitar concert for efforts in containing the Lake Christine Fire, which began on July 3 and had scorched 12,000 acres (4,900 ha; 49 km2) of land.
This week on Sounds of The 70’s we feature: Pablo Cruise, Bachman Turner Overdrive, Charlie Daniels Band, Wild Cherry, Neil Diamond, Hot Chocolate, Elvis Costello and The Attractions, Robert Palmer, Doobie Brothers and more . . .
This week we feature music from: Wanda Jackson, Chiffons, Neil Diamond, Elton John, Beatles, Gladys Knight and The Pips, Rolling Stones, Troggs, Bob Dylan, Grass Roots, James Brown, McCoys, Beach Boys, Janis Ian and many more . . .
Today on a new installment of the Vinyl Resting Place – the first full year of MTV and the last year for rock and roll. We count down the top 45 (well – almost) 45’s of 1982. Today’s twist – we count up – from #1 to – well – as close as we can get to 45… here’s a sampling of what they were listening to in 1982….Joan Jett & The Blackhearts, Paul McCartney, Survivor, J. Geils Band, Daryl Hall & John Oates, Toni Basil, Journey, Rick Springfield, Laura Branigan, Quarterflash, Stevie Wonder, Cars, Neil Diamond, Air Supply and so many more . . . Join Willie B today at 12pm and check the schedule for encore times.
This week on the Vinyl Resting Place join Willie B for a great mixed bag of music. many hits, a few misses and some originals…listen in… Featured this week Meat Loaf, Nena, Robey, Tom Jones, Merilee Rush, Lou Christie, Neil Diamond, Anne Murray, Badfinger, Corsairs, Bertie Higgins, Bobby Solo and many more. Listen live at 12pm on RadioMaxMusic.
Join Willie B for another edition of the Vinyl Resting Place.
Well with the Vinyl Resting Place back on the air (or wires) – I thought we’d give a random sampling of some of the music and silliness my loyal listeners (both of them) have come to expect. this week’s line-up..
Jefferson Airplane, Billy Sawn, Carpenters, Gunhill Road, Lois Fletcher, Bruce Springsteen, Albert Hammond, Lori Lieberman, Roger Whittaker, Neil Diamond, John Denver, Normam Greenbaum, Electric Light Orchestra & Olivia Newton John, Elvis Presley, Horst Jankowski, Lady Gaga, Karmin, Smiley Lewis, Lloyd Price, Billy Joel and LOTS more. .. 12pm ET on RadioMaxMusic
Neil Leslie Diamond (born January 24, 1941) is an American singer-songwriter with a career that began in the 1960s. Diamond has sold over 125 million records worldwide. He is the third most successful adult contemporary artist on the Billboard charts behind Barbra Streisand and Elton John. His songs have been covered internationally by many performers from various musical genres.
Neil Diamond was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 1984 and into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2011. Additionally, he received the Sammy Cahn Lifetime Achievement Award in 2000 and in 2011 was an honoree at Kennedy Center. On the Hot 100 and Adult Contemporary charts, he has had ten #1 singles: “Cracklin’ Rosie”, “Song Sung Blue”, “Longfellow Serenade”, “I’ve Been This Way Before”, “If You Know What I Mean”, “Desiree”, “You Don’t Bring Me Flowers”, “America”, “Yesterday’s Songs”, “Heartlight” and “I’m a believer”. He continues to record and release new material and maintains an extensive touring schedule as well. – Wikipedia
||I Am…I Said
||Song Sung Blue
||Love on the Rocks
||If You Know What I Mean
||You Don’t Bring Me Flowers (w/ Barbra Streisand)
||Forever in Blue Jeans
||Walk on Water
||I’m a Believer
||I’ve Been This Way Before
||Girl, You’ll Be a Woman Soon
||Thank the Lord for the Night Time
||Brother Love’s Travelling Salvation Show
||The Boat That I Row
||You Got To Me
||He Ain’t Heavy, He’s My Brother
||The Last Thing on My Mind
||Red, Red Wine
||The Long Way Home
||Until It’s Time for You to Go
||Done Too Soon
||Midnight Train to Georgia
||Some Day Baby
||You’ve Lost that Lovin’ Feelin’ (w/ Dolly Parton)
This week in the Vinyl Resting Place it’s “Woman” Featuring hits from Helen Reddy, Bryan Adams, Aretha Franklin, Shania Twain, Elvis Presley, Neil Diamond, Chicago, Roy Orbison, The Doors and more. Check the schedule for encore times if you miss any of this program. Hosted by your Vinyl Master Willie B!