Neil Diamond with the London Symphony Orchestra
Neil Diamond doesn’t write “small” songs. He never has. Possessing the ability to tap into our deepest personal emotions, his songs are epic productions, embracing sophisticated arrangements bathed in the “beautiful noise” of the world’s most talented musicians, while his lyrics always have spoken to the Everyman. And with his latest release, Diamond’s songs just got a whole lot bigger.
Produced by Grammy-winning producer / arranger Walter Afanasieff (Mariah Carey, Celine Dion, Whitney Houston, Lionel Richie), Classic Diamonds is a career-spanning collection recorded with the acclaimed London Symphony Orchestra at the world-famous Abbey Road Studios in London, as well as at Diamond’s studio in Los Angeles.
A truly iconic artist, Diamond’s music has become woven into the fabric of world pop culture. He’s sold in excess of 130 million albums worldwide, and he’s charted a stunning string of 37 Top 40 singles, along with an impressive array of 16 Top Ten albums throughout his 50+ year career. Suffice it to say, with a catalogue as expansive as Diamond’s, it would be a rather unrealistic expectation that a “perfect” playlist could be curated to fit such a concise showcase. However, this is a pretty darn tight showcase.
The 14-track set delivers vibrant recreations of some of Diamond’s most celebrated songs. Truth be told, Diamond is no stranger to working with a full orchestra. As a result, his reimagined version of the record opening “Beautiful Noise,” as well as remakes of additional standards, including “Hello Again,” “September Morn,” “You Don’t Bring Me Flowers” and “Heartlight” all fit comfortably in the symphonic format. Conversely, his more contemporary pop / rock hits; “I’m a Believer,” “Song Sung Blue, ” “America” and the signature staple, “Sweet Caroline” assume engaging new stylistic identities, while maintaining their original integrity.
Fresh, yet familiar, the record is a cozy feel-good, bursting with bona fide gemstones – classic “diamonds,” to be sure.