Diamond’s And Gold
Diamond’s And Gold captures Neil Diamond’s early period before the sparkly shirts began to take a toll on his career. It collects the highlights from his first two albums, as well as the non album single ‘Kentucky Woman’. Although he later fabricated a story, in order to make himself “more interesting”, that he ran away from home at the age of 13 to join a band, Diamond started his career as a professional songwriter in the Brill Building after dropping out of med school.
His songs on Diamond’s And Gold bear definite traces of the sixties pop production line; less densely produced than the Spector model, with a constant acoustic guitar to remind us of Diamond’s status as songwriter and musician, but with the same overlaid elements of horn sections, female backing singers, organs, and strings. It’s dippy sixties pop, with simple romantic themes and a hint of melancholy; it’s a guilty pleasure, but to a lesser extent than ‘Song Sung Blue’ or ‘You Don’t Bring Me Flowers’.
Diamond certainly had a knack of crafting catchy pop songs, and it’s most apparent in his earliest work. Along with his own staples, ‘Cherry Cherry’, ‘Kentucky Woman’ and ‘Solitary Man’, Diamond’s And Gold also features ‘I’m A Believer’, ‘Red Red Wine’, and ‘Girl You’ll Be A Woman Soon’, popularised by The Monkees, UB40, and Pulp Fiction respectively. On the second tier, we have the ultra-catchy ‘Oh, No, No (I Got The Feeling)’, ‘Thank The Lord For The Night Time’ and the awkward ‘Shilo’.
Elsewhere the standard drops off; Diamond’s cover of ‘Monday Monday’ doesn’t measure up to The Mamas And The Papas’ original, while a few of the other songs are disposable. For a professional songwriter, Diamond didn’t know too many chords, but most of these songs are harmless enough. Neil Diamond went on to write some more great songs, such as ‘Brother Love’s Travelling Salvation Show’ and ‘Holly Holy’, but he was never this humble and approachable again.