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Crate Digger’s Gold: Neil Diamond – Beautiful Noise

October 20, 2011

Sometimes I am embarrassed to admit the crate I am digging through is my own collection.  In my last post I talked about a presentation I heard by John Calder.  As an ice breaker John told a great story about his experience working on this album in the mid 70’s. As John told his story I realized I had this album in my collection and I think I might have listened to it once.  I couldn’t have told you a thing about the album.

Tonight I pulled it out and gave it a listen. I fortunately have a near mint vinyl edition.

First check out the cover.  I am trying to think of another album by a major star who has another major star noted on the cover as the producer (The Band’s Robbie Robertson).  I always wondered why Neil had such a prominent place in The Last Waltz.  Well I guess it is because Robbie Robertson had spent last couple of years producing this record for Neil.

I have couple of album guides so I looked up this album: Rolling Stone Album Guide: one star; Music Hound Rock Essential Album Guide: 3 bones (stars) and Allmusic.com: 4 stars.  I love when an album can be both reviled and loved.

This was designed as a concept album glorifying Neil’s Brill Building start in the music business.  I am not a huge Neil fan, but I think he was primarily a singles artist up to this point and this is a fully realized 70’s ALBUM.  Robbie Robertson’s name on the cover is clearly a “take me seriously” statement.

So how does the music sound?  Pretty good.  There is one certifiable hit in “If You Know What I Mean.”  The music does not have an obvious Band/Robertson feel.  Nor does it have the schmaltz that would come on future albums.  The best way to describe this is that this is Neil’s “Born to Run.”   Arrangements are complex, but subtle. So overall I would put this in the 3 star category, but the experience of listening to this album tonight is greatly enhanced by hearing John Calder’s reminisce about the making of this album the other night at the Audio Society of Minnesota.

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One Comment
  1. Bought it after I seen the Last Waltz. Odd bedfellows.

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