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Neil Diamond

Uni 93136
Released: July 1972
Chart Peak: #5
Weeks Charted: 41
Certified Gold: 8/31/72

Neil DiamondNeil Diamond has been riding a tide of hits for more than six years and there is no end in sight. Along with the Cornelius Brothers and Gilbert O'Sullivan, Neil is right where Top 40 radio is at nowadays, lamenting the summer of '62. But who can blame him for cashing in on the public appetite for corrupt sentimentality? "Song Sung Blue" has just descended from the top of the charts, and Moods, which contains the single, is a big best seller.

Neil Diamond is, or at least used to be, several cuts above the everyday hack singer-songwriter. He possesses one of the most steadily powerful pop voices around. Like Richie Havens' singing, Neil's is at once so virile and cosmically weary that it gets to you, even if you don't like the uses to which it's put. And I have to confess that on the rare occasions when I wish I were fourteen again, I can wallow in "Stones" and "He Ain't Heavy He's My Brother," playing them over and over and getting off on their cheap romantic hype.

All ten songs on Moods, including a lush instrumental cut, are by Neil, and all carry the unique Neil Diamond trademark -- very strong catchy tunes rooted in basic 1-4-5-1 harmony. What is amazing is how much mileage Neil Diamond gets out of his formula. The fact is you can't listen to "Song Sung Blue" more than a few times without remembering its tune, even if you'd rather not remember it. The same goes for most of the cuts on the album.

Moods is saturated in glutinous orchestration that for all its ick represents a high level of hack pop professionalism used indiscriminately. Half the songs on the album are in the spirit of "Song Sung Blue"; the other half are up-tempo.

Every number, however, expresses some aspect of teenage romanticism at its most grandiose level. The lyrics are pretty sloppy. Consider, for instance, the sense of the line, "Song sung blue, every garden grows one." Finally, of course, one isn't supposed to listen to the words but merely pick up on a few phrases here and there and, for the rest, just keep swimming with the violins and digging the conviction of Neil's singing. Innocent idealism and lachrymose self-pity are two sides of the same coin, and both are exploited here for all they're worth. Try to imagine the relationship evoked in the album's penultimate love song, "Play Me":
She was morning and I was nighttime
I one day woke up to find her lying beside my bed
I softly said "Come take me"
You are the sun
I am the moon
You are the words
I am the tune
Play me

Well, if the resuscitation of Sleeping Beauty is your bag, Moods is definitely for you. As for me, I'd rather hang out with Brother Love's Traveling Salvation Show.

- Stephen Holden, Rolling Stone, 9/28/72.

Bonus Reviews!

I might as well tell you in front that I think Neil Diamond is a crashing bore. His songwriting can be impressive; "Song Sung Blue" on this album, and such pieces as "I'm a Believer" and "A Little Bit Me, A Little Bit You" from the past are pretty fine examples of the sweeping-melody genre of pop song-writing. But his voice is about as fulfilling as a tie game between the Jets and the Colts, his rhythms as energetic as Joe Namath trying to end run on gimpy knees. It's okay, I suppose if you like to have music humming away in the background to shut out the sound of garbage trucks, but just don't make the mistake of listening too closely.

- Don Heckman, Stereo Review, 12/72.

This is definitely a fine album from a fine artist who is still expanding and improving his music. Diamond seems more relaxed than ever on this album. It shows in such peaceful melodies as "Play Me," "Morningside," and "Captain Sunshine" as well as the lighthearted numbers like "Porcupine Pie" and "Gitchy Goomy." The lyrics of "Song Sung Blue" could give a clue to Diamond's attitude these days.

Probably the most beautiful song on this album is "Canta Libre," a number with touching lyrics and Spanish overtones which reflects Diamond's more refined music. In it Diamond demonstrates his ability to use his voice as an instrument to capture the listeners' feelings. For effect, his voice changes from his own rather rusty voice to a smooth soulful tone and even his speaking voice which is particularly effective in capturing the mood of the song.

Moods presents a fine example of the music of a fine singer-songwriter and will enchant music lovers of all tastes and ages.

- Linda Kline, Hit Parader, 4/73.

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