Neil Diamond: Dreams (Sony)

 |   |  1 min read

Neil Diamond: Midnight Train to Georgia
Neil Diamond: Dreams (Sony)

After trying for the same late-career revival as Johnny Cash with producer Rick Rubin - to lesser commercial and critical success -- Diamond now delivers the album he has said he's always wanted to do: a collection of covers, including his own early song I'm A Believer made famously a hit by the Monkees.

Diamond is a man who always seems to take himself, and a lyric, seriously and often imbues songs with an emotional weight which some don't deserve. The result is that just about everything here has a gravitas (even I'm a Believer which is given a slow, almost word-at-a-time reading, and he doesn't sound like a man "in love" as the joyously redemptive lyrics suggest).

Which isn't to say that this is leaden, far from it: his almost Appalachian-style version of McCartney's Blackbird sounds like one of his own songs, and he does a fine version of Midnight Train to Georgia. And against the odds Gilbert O'Sullivan's existential angst on the groom-still-waiting Alone Again Naturally comes off well.

But he doesn't bring much to Leonard Cohen's Hallelujah and McCartney's Yesterday which hasn't been explored by many others. And on Harry Nilsson's beautiful, ironically real Don't Forget Me there is a failure of nerve when he substitutes "and when we're older, it's hard to get around" for Nilsson's original line "and when we're older, full of cancer . . . "

All of these song are beautifully arranged and played of course, and in a few instances that is the attraction. But his earnestness on every song makes for an album that is unleavened . . . so while not hard going (the familiarity of the songs gets you over the lesser moments like the laboured Let It Be Me) you wish he took himself and some of the music a little less seriously.

Share It

Your Comments

post a comment

More from this section   Music articles index

International Observer: Felt (Dubmission)

International Observer: Felt (Dubmission)

The first thing to note about this new album by producer/dubmeister Tom Bailey is that there are 12 tracks. No noodling around or nodding off going on here, Bailey doesn't let any groove outstay... > Read more

Angel Olsen: Burn Your Fire For No Witness (Jagjaguwar)

Angel Olsen: Burn Your Fire For No Witness (Jagjaguwar)

Perhaps like most Elsewhere readers, I'd never heard of this quite remarkable woman previously, but a bit of research shows she was born in Missouri, is now based in Chicago and had a previous... > Read more

Elsewhere at Elsewhere

Captain Beefheart and the Magic Band: Trout Mask Replica (1969)

Captain Beefheart and the Magic Band: Trout Mask Replica (1969)

When I first heard Trout Mask Replica some time in early '70 I fled. It was all very well being told that Captain Beefheart (Don Van Vliet) sounded like Howlin' Wolf, but that would be like... > Read more

Barry Ryan: Eloise (1968)

Barry Ryan: Eloise (1968)

In the late Sixties when this song appeared the rumour mill hit a peak. In the previous few years the twins Paul and Barry Ryan (who performed under that name) had clocked a steady string of... > Read more