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Neil Diamond | Essential | review | alternative | rock | Lollipop

Neil Diamond

The Essential Neil Diamond (Legacy/Columbia)
by Scott Hefflon

C'mon, you know you know this stuff... When no one's looking or listening, admit you love Neil Diamond. Anyone truly cool is cool enough to know not to be embarrassed by liking uncool stuff like Neil Diamond. So while it better be a close gathering when you throw it on at a party and start belting it out, you can watch with amusement as people carefully observe others' reactions as they carefully observe others themselves, and if yer lucky, people lighten up a bit, chuckle nervously and cross that line, and slowly but surely, the party starts singing along and having a merry old time until the cops show up and you hope they fail to mention that detail in the police report.

Then again, maybe you get stranded out on that limb (or on the coffee table, to be more specific), realize these people are simply too scared and uptight to have any real fun, so you grab a couple sympathetic hotties, all the booze you can carry, and make a run for the door.

If you're like me (um, meaning that at one point in time you were younger than you are now), you probably grew up on Neil Diamond. Maybe you saw David Spade in Lost & Found (the one with the model neighbor and the dognapping plot) and wondered what all the fuss was about. Maybe you live on the moon. I use to make out with a girl when I was 13 or 14 with Neil Diamond playing on her parent's stereo in the living room. He never got played at middle school dances or anything, but every time I hear a Neil Diamond tune in a soundtrack, I'm reminded of roadtrips, looking out the window as the great expanses of America passed by, or making out with a girl a room away from her parents. Sweet, honest, cute shit. Maybe our moms wanted to do him, maybe our dads wanted to kick his ass or be him (same thing, usually), that's not my era, and not my burden to bear.

The Essential
is a double-CD set with 19 songs on each CD, covering all the hits, from 1966-2001, representing the recorded output of Bang, Uni, Capitol and Columbia Records. There are a few unreleased tracks (live performances from 2001), some digitally-remastered mono tracks, and the liner notes specify year and recording if you want to fill in the blanks. While I'd get arrested for making out with a 14-year-old, I now have the tunes to do it to. And I'm sure to test more partys' coolness by throwing it on, belting it out, and keeping an eye on the door... (Feel free to insert your own closing cliché about a Diamond being Forever, I'm not responsible for that.)


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