Neil Diamond - Taproot Manuscript - Uni 1970

Neil Diamond - Taproot Manuscript - front cover

front cover gatefold - inside is blank


Music - 4 stars

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.

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