Neil Diamond
Brother Love's Traveling Salvation Show - Uni 1969

Music - 5 stars

Neil Diamond
Touching You Touching Me - Uni 1969

Music - 2 stars

Neil Diamond
Taproot Manuscript - Uni 1970

Music - 4 stars

Neil Diamond
Stones - Uni 1971

Music - 2 stars

Neil Diamond
Serenade - Columbia 1974

Music - 4 stars

Brother Love's Traveling Salvation Show - front cover

front cover

Brother Love's Traveling Salvation Show - rear cover

rear cover

Brother Love's Traveling Salvation Show - rear cover

inside gatefold

Review

This is an excellent set of original songs from Neil Diamond's late 60's early 70's singer–songwriter period. The original album cover is one of the great eye-catching Uni gatefold's showcasing a traveling preacher thundering down at an unfortunate lost soul. Only the title track and "Glory Road" directly address preaching or salvation. However, Diamond offers up a song cycle which includes some of his most memorable originals.

"Dig In" is an attractive low key rocker as is "Deep In the Morning" and "Long Gone". "The Grass Won’t pay no Mind", "Juliet", and "If I Never Knew your Name", are ballads that hold up very nicely today. Neil Diamond never made another record that looked or sounded like "Brother Love" which makes it so appealing these many years later.

- Allan J Moore

Note: Brother Love's salvation game grace's the inside of the original Uni pressings. This album was later released (again) on vinyl. It added the monster hit "Sweet Caroline" which was NOT on the "Brother Love" record. The rest of the song list is identical. The cover bears a picture of Neil Diamond, and is not a gatefold.

Touching You Touching Me - front cover

front cover

Touching You Touching Me - rear cover

rear cover

Review

For those who hated "Brother Love" for being experimental, disjointed, or just plain strange, there is relief to be had on this collection. This is a short album, clocking in at around 30 minutes. Four of the nine tracks are covers.

Diamond is either out of material, or paying some dues to those he feels are his peers. This record doesn't show Diamond off as a great interpretive singer. His versions of "Mr. Bojangles, "Everybody's Talking", and "Both Sides Now" are pleasant enough but only Buffy Sainte –Marie's lovely "Until It's Time for you to Go" is the real charmer, and it's the last track on the album.

There are five originals. "Holly Holy" did produce a hit single, and "New York Boy" with its strange blaring horns is just plain awful. The rest, (in fact all of this), is innocuous flotsam (aural wallpaper if you will). No doubt Diamond's fans like it. If you're curious about Neil Diamond's early vinyl days there are better places to start. This is a good one for completists.

- Allan J Moore

Neil Diamond - Taproot Manuscript - front cover

front cover gatefold - inside is blank

Review

An ambitious set of songs including a sidelong suite which Diamond states "is a personal tribute to the Folk Music of Africa". Side one is typical Diamond. He starts the proceedings with Crackling Rosie, a big hit and deservedly so. "Coldwater Morning" is a terrific song, and Diamond decides to take an eclectic chance. He lets a pretty good pop song ("Done Too Soon") flow gently into the record's only cover "He Ain’t Heavy… He's My Brother". This is a song that could have been a complete disaster, but Neil delivers a moving, soulful, rendition, putting his imprimatur on a pop classic.

”The African Trilogy (a folk ballet), is actually six songs using nearly 100 singers and musicians. The collection works. The production is neither saccharine, dull, nor overblown. The orchestra never gets in the way, and Diamond even got a hit from it with "Soolaimon..." This is an appealing, attractive, and unconventional record. At the time Taproot Manuscript was released Neil Diamond was on the cusp of major success, and this record helped him break through to a wide audience.

- Allan J Moore

Note: Neil Diamond did do research for "African Trilogy" at the Kenyan Mission to the U.N, and the African Studies Department at UCLA. Uni replaced its trademark multicolor spiral with a custom black and white record label on this album. This record has a great looking gatefold cover but there is no artwork or information on the inside. The original pressings enclose a fine booklet aptly titled "Taproot Manuscript".
The folks at Vinyl History.com.

Neil Diamond - Stones - front cover

front cover

Neil Diamond - Stones - rear cover

rear cover

Review

Nicely packaged but musically empty. "I am… I Said" is a memorable original thought the reprise of the song is a toss-away. "Stones" is a solid original, but the rest of the record is a bunch of boring covers. Songs by Leonard Cohen, Joni Mitchell, Randy Newman, and Tom Paxton represent mainstream music of the time, but unless you are a Neil Diamond collector you don't need this.

- Allan J Moore

Note: There is a pattern here. Make a very good, very interesting record and then release a dud. There's nothing inherently wrong with doing covers but at least do something to make them your own. The arrangements are dull, as are the vocals and it all adds up to dreary uninspired product.
The folks at vinyl history.com.

Serenade - front cover

front cover

Serenade - rear cover

rear cover

Review

Sometimes a change of address can do wonders for an athlete or a musical artist. Diamond has written all the material, and it has real energy. There isn't a bad track here and some, The Gift of Song; Reggae Strut; and I've been this way before; are quite good. Diamond has his own band and you can actually hear the players and instruments. Longfellow Serenade is the hit and it's one of his best songs. There is an orchestra used on the album, but it functions as an accent rather than an A-Bomb. Diamond's ballads thankfully avoid the trap of middle-of-the-road schmalz. All of the aforementioned, and the clear production make Serenade a very agreeable and attractive pop record with Neil Diamond sounding nicely ascendant.

- Allan J Moore

Note: Neil Diamond brought over long time producer Tom Cotaldo for Serenade and Cotaldo avoided engaging in his worst tendencies {blaring horns, and monster strings]. I'd like to hear Diamond cut an album with a different producer. Neil Diamond certainly has the talent to stretch out in some different directions.
The guys at Vinyl History.