12 Songs (Remastered) Neil Diamond
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- 1Oh Mary05:12
- 2Hell Yeah04:25
- 3Captain Of A Shipwreck03:55
- 5Save Me A Saturday Night03:31
- 6Delirious Love03:12
- 7I'm On To You04:27
- 8What's It Gonna Be04:04
- 9Man Of God04:21
- 10Create Me04:10
- 11Face Me03:27
Info zu 12 Songs (Remastered)
12 Songs is the twenty-sixth studio album by Neil Diamond, released in 2005.
"Calling 12 Songs Neil Diamond's best album in three decades may be a little misleading: truth be told, it doesn't have much competition in his discography. While Diamond never stopped making albums, he did seem progressively less interested in recording sometime after the Robbie Robertson-produced 1976 album Beautiful Noise. Following that weird, ambitious album, he pursued a slicker, streamlined course and started writing less original material. For a while, this paid off great commercial dividends, culminating in his 1980 remake of the Al Jolson film The Jazz Singer, but after 1982's Heartlight he slowly drifted off the pop charts. Over the next two decades, he toured regularly, turning out a new album every three or four years, and their patchwork nature of a few covers and a few originals suggested that Diamond wasn't as engaged in either the writing or recording process as he was at the peak of his career. With 2001's Three Chord Opera he delivered his first album of all-original material since Beautiful Noise, which was also his first non-concept album since 1991's Lovescape (he spent the interim cutting theme albums, such as a record devoted to Brill Building pop or a country-oriented collection). While it was uneven, it did suggest that Diamond was re-engaging with both writing and recording, and as he prepared material for a new record, he received word that producer Rick Rubin -- the man responsible for Johnny Cash's acclaimed '90s comeback, American Recordings -- was interested in working with him, and the two combined for the project that turned out to be 12 Songs.
Rubin was the first producer to push Diamond since Robbie Robertson, but where Robertson indulged the singer/songwriter, Rubin drove Neil to strip his music down to his essence. As Diamond's candid liner notes reveal, Rubin wasn't a co-writer, he was a precise and exacting editor, encouraging Neil to rework songs, abandon some tunes, and to keep writing. The process worked, as Diamond wound up with a set of 12 songs (actually, 13 on the special edition that contains two bonus tracks, including an alternate version of "Delirious Love" featuring a delirious Brian Wilson contribution) that result in his most consistent set of songs ever. This is entirely Rubin's doing, since he's the first producer to exercise such tight control over one of Diamond's albums. Where Tom Catalano, the producer of Neil's '60s and early-'70s work, let Diamond indulge in flights of fancy and sheer weirdness, Rubin keeps him on a tight leash, only allowing a couple of light, cheerful songs into the finished product. Instead of encouraging Neil to write these rollicking, effortlessly hooky pop songs, Rubin brings the moody undercurrents of "Girl, You'll Be a Woman Soon" and "Solitary Man" to the forefront, pushing Diamond toward somber, introspective territory that his music suggested but never truly explored in the past. To highlight this mood, Rubin keeps the arrangements spare, even skeletal, reminiscent of the monochromatic nature of his Cash collaborations. 12 Songs also shares with American Recordings a creeping sense of mortality, but where that sounded natural coming from Johnny Cash, it's slightly affected here, since even when Diamond attempts to reach inward it's offset by his natural inclination toward hamminess. And that flair for the theatrical almost begs out for arrangements that are a little bit more fleshed out than what's here -- not something as slickly cold as what he did in the late '70s, but something similar to the rich yet fruity orchestrations Catalano brought to Diamond's best songs.
But if 12 Songs does occasionally come across as slightly affected in its intent and presentation, it also is inarguably Neil Diamond's best set of songs in a long, long time. Diamond's writing is not only more ambitious than it has been in years, but it's also more fully realized; the songs are tightly written, with the melodies bringing out the emotions in the lyrics. Similarly, Diamond also sounds engaged as a performer, singing with passion and unexpected understatement; it's his most controlled, varied vocal performance ever, and even if Rubin's production is a bit too stark, it does force listeners to concentrate on the songs, which makes this a better case for Diamond's talents as a songwriter than most of his other albums. And that's why 12 Songs is, in a way, even more welcome than American Recordings. Where Cash's comeback confirmed what everybody already knew about him, this presents a side of Neil Diamond that's never been heard on record and, in the process, it offers a new way of looking at the rest of his catalog -- which is a pretty remarkable achievement, but the best thing about 12 Songs is that it's simply one of the most entertaining, satisfying albums Diamond has ever released." (Stephen Thomas Erlewine, AMG)
Neil Diamond, vocals, guitar
Mike Campbell, guitar, horn and string arrangements, conductor
mokey Hormel, guitar
Pat McLaughlin, guitar
Jason Sinay, guitar
Jonny Polonsky, guitar, bass
Lenny Castro, percussion
Benmont Tench, piano, Hammond organ
Larry Knechtel, piano
Roger Joseph Manning Jr., piano
Patrick Warren, Chamberlin
Billy Preston, Hammond organ (4, 9, 11)
Jimmie Haskell, horn and string arrangements (4)
Brian Wilson, vocals (14)
For Neil Diamond, it’s always started with a song. Over the course of his astonishing career, Neil has sold more than 128 million albums worldwide. He’s charted 56 songs on the Billboard Hot 100, including 12 top 10 hits, and has released 16 Top 10 albums. He’s a member of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and the Songwriters Hall of Fame, and in 2011, he was honored by the Kennedy Center for his lifetime of contributions to American culture. Neil has been nominated for three Golden Globes, 13 Grammys, and was named NARAS’ MusiCares Person of the Year in 2009. His 2008 album, Home Before Dark, debuted in the US and UK at #1, and his songs have been covered by artists ranging from Elvis Presley to Andrea Boccelli. But he never would have reached the world, from sold-out concerts to seventh-inning stretches, without his love for songwriting.
In June, after more than forty years as a Columbia recording artist, Neil signed with Capitol Records and moved his back catalogue to Universal, Capitol’s parent company. He has history with both: his earliest hits were on Bang, a Universal imprint, and Capitol released the multi-platinum soundtrack for The Jazz Singerin 1980, which earned Neil three Top 10 singles. Melody Road, his first new original studio album since Home Before Dark, is Neil’s debut as a Capitol artist, and while it represents a new chapter for him, it also reconnects him with his past.
Neil describes Melody Road as a homecoming. It brings him back to the start of his musical journey and the early influence of artists like the Weavers and Woody Guthrie. The songs on the album reflect his lifelong love of folk music. The vocals were recorded live, in much the same way they would have been if the album had been created decades ago, and while the instrumentation is lush, the arrangements are traditional. Like the best folk songs, each of the album’s tracks tells a story, most pointedly on “Seongah and Jimmy,” a song about Neil’s American brother-in-law and Korean sister-in-law, who met and fell in love before they had learned to speak each other’s languages. Despite the specificity of the song, it addresses a universal theme. Melody Road is largely autobiographical, but the stories Neil tells are not his alone.
Neil began working on Melody Road with several new songs, as well as a few that he’d struggled to complete for more than ten years. He couldn’t find the motivation, or the willingness to address the subject matter that initially inspired them, or – in Neil’s words – they weren’t yet ready to be born. With an emotional assist from his wife Katie, he completed those tracks. By the time he was ready to record he had an album’s worth of songs ready to go. The record unfolds story by story, and song by song – the final sequence is exactly the same as the order of Neil’s original demos for the album.
Co-Produced by Don Was (who’s worked with Bob Dylan and The Rolling Stones) and Jacknife Lee (R.E.M., U2), Melody Road was made with a masterful group of musicians, including pedal steel player Greg Liesz, keyboardist Benmont Tench, guitarist Smoky Hormel, and vocalists the Waters Family. Built on guitars, it’s true to the origin of folk, but it’s not defined by it; it was recorded with keyboards, flutes, horns, and, on “Seongah and Jimmy,” “The Art of Love,” and “Nothing But A Heartache,” a full string section. Yet, for all of its expansiveness and rich production, Melody Road is ultimately all about the songs. Neil’s come full circle. He’s brought five decades of extraordinary craftsmanship with him, but he’s returned to where he started, propelled by the simple joy of translating life into song.
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