Where Neil could have been better

Where Neil could have been better

Jade
Jade

August 7th, 2002, 4:55 pm #1

I'm not sure it is all his fault. The record company may have had a lot to do with it. Neil has done WAY WAY WAY too many slow love songs with big instrumentals, and too much melodrama.

There are styles that Neil messed with a bit at times that seemed to fit him well. He didn't write it but the anthem type songs like "Mothers and Daughters Fathers and Sons" made Neil sound fresh.

Also the simple guitar orientated love songs work well.
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Eamon
Eamon

August 7th, 2002, 5:16 pm #2

There was a recent post about why most of the males on this site (and a few ladies I'm sure) dislike a lot of Neil's post Jazz Singer, pre Ten Moon stuff. The reason put forward was that the word Love was used so often. And we men being the vacuous souls that we are just can't respond to LOVE...or rather Lurve in Neil's songs case!!
I replied with a reasonably good rebuttal of this...though it has got me thinking recently. Yes Neil's love songs lost a sense of subtlety they had in the60s 70s and early 80s. True, Neil is not the most subtle of songwriters and is a very direct kind of writer. But still his love songs rarely mentioned the word love until the post jazz Singer era when the word popped up on a regular basis. Even on Ten Moon he overuses the word LOVE almost ad nauseum…though it’s still a fine album because of its approach.

I mean Play Me never mentions Love, neither does Stones. I don’t think there’s a mention of it on the entire JLS album. And there are loads of songs. Suddenly from On The Way To The Sky it’s love this love that…you love me I love you…. basically a Barney song for adults and oul wans!

As I’ve said before there’s nothing wrong with Love…it’s a great and magical think. But Neil’s best songs his most subtle songs don’t really mention it.

Are we onto something here???
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UK David
UK David

August 7th, 2002, 5:51 pm #3

You're right, Eamon. Diamond wrote some incredible love-songs in the late 60's & early 70's. Let's not forget that Diamond was insecure in those days and had divorced and remarried and was his trail for glory (you know the kind of thing - Hurtin' You Don't Come Easy etc). These were great songs and certainly not over-orchestrated or over-blown as his style in the 80's became. La Bruin is right to assert that guitar based love songs (such as Hooked on the Memory of You) worked very well. Other good example of great self-penned Diamond tunes from the era (although not love songs) that are simple and without over-arrangement or production are SOML, Angel Above My Head and Heaven Can Wait. I also have a guitar playing love for Just need To Love you More and Comin' Home.

Strip down September Morn and remove say 50% of the orchestration and production and IMHO the song would be better. Flowers, IMHO works better without Streisand. Neil and over-production do not go together. It is dangerous territory.

I am currently re-arranging my own version of Cherry, Cherry. That is a seriously good song with some wicked guitar licks. If you slow this song right down it still holds up as a great tune. Neil sets a cracking pace with the song which is great but it also works if you really hold those last phrases and slow things down as in 'Baby Loves Meeeeeeeeeeee, yes yes she does'. Says she loves Meeeeeeeeeee' Gonna show me tonight yeah. I was really pleased how it came out.

Conversely, Sweet Caroline IMHO sounds better on record because it is a very short song. The live versions are longer and the song (although still great)loses some of its urgency and effect although I am of course talking about versions since the mid 70's. On HAN Neil's rendition was masterful.

There is nothing wrong with love songs (or any other type of song for that matter) if the basic building block (i.e the song) is sound. A good song is a good song no matter how it is performed. Weak songs rarely hold up. Whether or not you prefer Solitary Man to September Morn there can be no disputing which is the better song. I think this was Neil's problem through the 80's and 90's - the material he had was not as good and, it has to be said some of it was dire. Add to this a tendency for over-orchestration and over-production and well - you can hear the difference.
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Steve_B
Steve_B

August 7th, 2002, 6:00 pm #4

...The Music Machine version of Cherry Cherry? It's on one of the legit Diamond cover CD's displayed on my 60s/70's Collection Gallery page. It sounds very similar to how you were porrtraying "your" version - that is, a little slowed down and with more emphasis on certain words. It's quite good but Neil's HAN version is still the greatest, IMHO.
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Eamon
Eamon

August 7th, 2002, 6:02 pm #5

You're right, Eamon. Diamond wrote some incredible love-songs in the late 60's & early 70's. Let's not forget that Diamond was insecure in those days and had divorced and remarried and was his trail for glory (you know the kind of thing - Hurtin' You Don't Come Easy etc). These were great songs and certainly not over-orchestrated or over-blown as his style in the 80's became. La Bruin is right to assert that guitar based love songs (such as Hooked on the Memory of You) worked very well. Other good example of great self-penned Diamond tunes from the era (although not love songs) that are simple and without over-arrangement or production are SOML, Angel Above My Head and Heaven Can Wait. I also have a guitar playing love for Just need To Love you More and Comin' Home.

Strip down September Morn and remove say 50% of the orchestration and production and IMHO the song would be better. Flowers, IMHO works better without Streisand. Neil and over-production do not go together. It is dangerous territory.

I am currently re-arranging my own version of Cherry, Cherry. That is a seriously good song with some wicked guitar licks. If you slow this song right down it still holds up as a great tune. Neil sets a cracking pace with the song which is great but it also works if you really hold those last phrases and slow things down as in 'Baby Loves Meeeeeeeeeeee, yes yes she does'. Says she loves Meeeeeeeeeee' Gonna show me tonight yeah. I was really pleased how it came out.

Conversely, Sweet Caroline IMHO sounds better on record because it is a very short song. The live versions are longer and the song (although still great)loses some of its urgency and effect although I am of course talking about versions since the mid 70's. On HAN Neil's rendition was masterful.

There is nothing wrong with love songs (or any other type of song for that matter) if the basic building block (i.e the song) is sound. A good song is a good song no matter how it is performed. Weak songs rarely hold up. Whether or not you prefer Solitary Man to September Morn there can be no disputing which is the better song. I think this was Neil's problem through the 80's and 90's - the material he had was not as good and, it has to be said some of it was dire. Add to this a tendency for over-orchestration and over-production and well - you can hear the difference.
I've often thought that the over orchestration and dramatisation of his work during this period was to make up for a lack of decent lyrics.

Neil's best songs do have a certain drama to them but they developed into melodrama for a long time. Yes Solitary man is probably better than September Morn...but I was listening to the original recently on the dreadful September (contractual filler) Morn album and it's damn good. OK it could do with a bit of a tone down...but it's a fine song.

Now there's an album, September Morn, that should've been killed at birth...truly dreadful. Perhaps I should temper that by saying..not to my taste.
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Steve_B
Steve_B

August 7th, 2002, 6:10 pm #6

it was a contractual filler. Neil had already started work on the Jazz Singer and I believe ahad already written You Baby, Hello Again and maybe some others but wanted to save those for TJS. I read or heard somewhere in an interview that he had to decide whether to use September Morn or Hello Again for this contractual album release - whichever one did not get used would make it in to TJS. I've always wondered if that "Jazz Time" instrumental type track was originally written with the intention of being for TJS soundtrack?
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UK David
UK David

August 7th, 2002, 6:12 pm #7

...The Music Machine version of Cherry Cherry? It's on one of the legit Diamond cover CD's displayed on my 60s/70's Collection Gallery page. It sounds very similar to how you were porrtraying "your" version - that is, a little slowed down and with more emphasis on certain words. It's quite good but Neil's HAN version is still the greatest, IMHO.
It's a cracking version. I agree that the HAN version was great. However, I think Cherry Cherry is one of thiose songs that always has and always will hold up for Neil in concert. Even on LIA it was OK.

Have yo uheard Britain's own Jonathan King's version of Cherry Cherry. This is incredible. I am in no way advocating Jonathan King but this version has got to be heard to be believed. Top marks!
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Eamon
Eamon

August 7th, 2002, 6:18 pm #8

it was a contractual filler. Neil had already started work on the Jazz Singer and I believe ahad already written You Baby, Hello Again and maybe some others but wanted to save those for TJS. I read or heard somewhere in an interview that he had to decide whether to use September Morn or Hello Again for this contractual album release - whichever one did not get used would make it in to TJS. I've always wondered if that "Jazz Time" instrumental type track was originally written with the intention of being for TJS soundtrack?
the truly awful version (not to my taste) of ...Believer??
LOL!!
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Steve_B
Steve_B

August 7th, 2002, 6:20 pm #9

I'm not sure it is all his fault. The record company may have had a lot to do with it. Neil has done WAY WAY WAY too many slow love songs with big instrumentals, and too much melodrama.

There are styles that Neil messed with a bit at times that seemed to fit him well. He didn't write it but the anthem type songs like "Mothers and Daughters Fathers and Sons" made Neil sound fresh.

Also the simple guitar orientated love songs work well.
I have voiced my opinion before about songs that got released as the first "single" from the YDBMF albums onwards. They have nearly all been ballads or love songs. Again, I don't have a problem with many of these songs, in fact I like September Morn and Hello Again, etc. but I think these choices as singles went a long way to Neil being labelled a balladeer, etc. Even now, off TCO, Neil is mainly promoting YATBPOM, another ballad, and frankly it is one of the two or three tracks I like the least although that is irrelevant to my point. A few more "Rovkin'" tracks released as first singles might just have portrayed Neil asomewhat differently.

Most of my friends who do not like Neil Diamond and take the Micky from time to time, will humm Hello Again, Love On The Rocks or perhaps Sweet Caroline and I try to tell them that there is a whole different side to Neil Diamond, if only they would listen to some of his "other" non-hits material or even some of the hits that were not hits in the UK - for instance many non-Neil fans (including many of my friends)have never heard of Cherry Cherry, Thank The Lord For The Night Time, You Got To Me, Crunchy Granola, Soolaimon, Holly Holy, Brother Love, etc.
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UK David
UK David

August 7th, 2002, 6:22 pm #10

it was a contractual filler. Neil had already started work on the Jazz Singer and I believe ahad already written You Baby, Hello Again and maybe some others but wanted to save those for TJS. I read or heard somewhere in an interview that he had to decide whether to use September Morn or Hello Again for this contractual album release - whichever one did not get used would make it in to TJS. I've always wondered if that "Jazz Time" instrumental type track was originally written with the intention of being for TJS soundtrack?
That song ws originally for the Jonathan Gull album but never made it so was carried over to Serenade.

Rembmer too that September Morn was written by Neil and Gilbert Becaud after lunch and a few glasses of wine in Gilbert's apartment one September day in Paris. For me, the song has a strong Gallic sound. Check out GB's own version called C'etait en Septembre).

I believe Love on the Rocks (Scotch on the Rocks) was finished when Becaud came to visit Neil in LA. Neil had been playing around with the song with his band for some time prior to TJS and it was finshed off with Becaud. Again, I can hear a definite European (specifically Gallic/Parisian chic) sound.

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