Neil Diamond

12 Songs (Columbia)

Of course, itís the producer who gets the performer into these pages; this look like People magazine to you, hunh? Fact is, anybody other than Rick Rubin produces this thing (and Heartbreaker Mike Campbell, Tom Waits-Beck guitarist Smokey Hormel and ex-wunderkind Jonny Polonsky play on it) and itís forgotten day before yesterday. But the expectation outweighs the result, so here we are some three decades after he was...he said, wondering if the Jewish Jumpsuitís been given a credibility reprieve ŗ la the Man in Black. And damned if I can tell if itís any better or worse than what preceded itóI havenít intentionally heard a Diamond dog since 1978, when Ma and Pa Shtetl schlepped me down to Reunion Arena for a night of square music played in the round. Far as I can tell, though, itís more of the same-ole with just a little less for credís sakeóthe Hebrew Hammer oversinging his overwrought lyrics (ďIf your goldmine comes up empty/Iíll be there to work for claims/If youíre captain of a shipwreck/Iíll be first mate to your shameĒ) against a knowingly sparse backdrop of acoustic guitar and piano and the inevitable strings to make sure you havenít forgotten this is intended to be his last schmaltz. Brian Wilsonís here, too, on one of two cream-cheesy ďbonusĒ songs; apparently, Barbra Streisand was too busy working on her disc with Jon Brion.
 
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