Christams

VA: - A Solitary Man - The Early Songs Of Neil Diamond (CD)


Ace Records 2009
029667037723
 

If you’re a Neil Diamond fan, the latest entry in our songwriter series is a no-brainer must-have. For starters, it collects 11 of the songs Neil wrote during the 1963-1969 timeframe that is its purview, but has never himself recorded. Among the numbers he gave away are the Monkees’ ‘Look Out (Here Comes Tomorrow)’ (heard here in the unique mix used on the original television broadcast) and Jay & the Americans’ ‘Sunday And Me’.

Deep Purple’s remake of Diamond’s ‘Kentucky Woman’ was a hit just a year after his own version. Heavy, man! Further covers from his impressive run of over 50 chart singles are represented, most in styles vastly different from his versions, the infinite adaptability a testament to the quality of the material. Tony Tribe was the first, in 1968, to cut a reggae rendition of ‘Red Red Wine’, UB40’s self-acknowledged template for their wildly successful release of the song a quarter-century later. Jackie Edwards’ performance of ‘Girl, You’ll Be A Woman Soon’ is so tender that the original sounds almost gruff by comparison.

No matter how you feel about Neil Diamond, if you’re a femme-pop fan, you’re going to need this disc for the tracks by Lulu, Marcie Blane, Jan Tanzy, Sadina and Billie Davis. If you favour the fellas, Cliff Richard’s ‘Just Another Guy’ sounds like a cross between the Everly Brothers and Bobby Vee filtered through Dion, while Jimmy Clanton appropriates the slogan of American greeting-card company Hallmark, “When you care enough to send the very best”, to suit his romantic needs. Ronnie Dove delivers an uncharacteristically energetic performance on the horn-and-handclap-propelled ‘My Babe’ and Billy Fury makes the Pitney-esque ‘Where Do You Run’ his own.

How do you like your soul music? Bobby Womack takes an expressive approach to ‘Sweet Caroline (Good Times Never Felt So Good)’ that makes palpable the joy conveyed in the lyrics. Approaches as diverse as the Memphis sound (B.J. Thomas, the Box Tops and Arthur Alexander), Chuck Jackson-style big city soul (the Solitaires), and Motown (Four Tops, Jr Walker & the All-Stars) are all successful and satisfying. Adding still more diversity to the mix are the Rocky Fellers’ ‘We Got Love’, with their trademark marimba-driven Pacific Islander sound, and the surprisingly effective garage-rock stylings of the Music Machine and the Wanderer’s Rest, cementing the status of these songs’ universal appeal and versatility.

If you didn’t think you were a Neil Diamond fan, it’s time to reassess your position, at least in terms of his formidable, diverse and affecting abilities as a songwriter.

BY DAVID A YOUNG (ACE RECORDS)

1 LOOK OUT (HERE COMES TOMORROW)
The Monkees
2 THE BOAT THAT I ROW
Lulu
3 RED RED WINE
Tony Tribe
4 KENTUCKY WOMAN
Deep Purple
5 JUST ANOTHER GUY
Cliff Richard
6 SUNDAY AND ME
Jay & The Americans
7 IT COMES AND GOES
Sadina
8 THAT NEW BOY IN TOWN
Jan Tanzy
9 MY BABE
Ronnie Dove
10 I CARE ENOUGH (TO GIVE THE VERY BEST)
Jimmy Clanton
11 WE GOT LOVE
The Rocky Fellers
12 BOBBY DID
Marcie Blane
13 WHERE DO YOU RUN
Billy Fury
14 FOOL THAT I AM
The Solitaires
15 GLORY ROAD
Arthur Alexander
16 LOVE TO LOVE
Billie Davis
17 YOU'LL FORGET
The Wanderer's Rest
18 AIN'T NO WAY
The Box Tops
19 SOLITARY MAN
B.J. Thomas
20 I'M A BELIEVER
Four Tops
21 GIRL, YOU'LL BE A WOMAN SOON
Jackie Edwards
22 CHERRY CHERRY
The Music Machine
23 HOLLY HOLY
Jr Walker & The All Stars
24 SWEET CAROLINE (GOOD TIMES NEVER SEEMED SO GOOD)
Bobby Womack & Peace

17.00 €

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