A 'forgotten gem' in the annals of rock history

By Mark Reynolds with help from Gabe Partlow
Arizona Daily Wildcat
February 27, 1996

Arizona Daily Wildcat


In these times of popular music stagnation, when the "alternative" bandwagon is too full to move and acts such as The Presidents of the United States of America and that little kid band from Australia sound Modern Rock's death rattle, industry eyes scan the horizon in search of a new messiah to crucify - the one prophesied as "The Next Big Thing."

"What haven't the hip, happening youth of today had shoved down their collective throats? Where in the annals of rock history can we find a forgotten gem that with a little polish can rise and shine above the bottom line?" ask A&R plebes, their stable full of unoriginal bands awaiting directions to the new parade ground.

The answer, she comes like a whisper...


No, you idiots, not Neil Young who, by the way, has been in a bad period ever since he picked up a guitar. Look at the pictures people, it's Neil Diamond - America's favorite cantor's son.

To usher in this new age of Neil-dominated rock, I've decided to pass on reviewing his new album Tennessee Moon and go back to 1974 and the release of Neil Diamond - His 12 Greatest Hits on the once mighty MCA records. This should clue you in on what will inevitably become the inspiration of tomorrow's rock heroes. "Impossible," you say? Well I'm sure it's not the first time you haven't believed the truth. Let's look for proof in the hits:

"Sweet Caroline" - "... good times never felt so good... " a positive message for our troubled times accentuated by the simple brilliance of three notes from the brass section. The pizzicato strings warm the heart as well.

"Brother Loves Traveling Salvation Show" - "It was a Hot August Night." What better way to end the millennium than with a Bible thumpin' number featuring a charismatic preacher. Generate some humidity at home , a virtual sauna at 33 1/3 full volume.

"Shilo" - "Had a dream and it filled me with wonder, she had other plans." Ancient Israelite worship center turned imaginary childhood friend who can bail you out of a broken heart. Oy Vey, what a talent!

"Holly Holy" - "Ay-Yeah... Ay-Yeah." This single line has already influenced Metallica member James Hetfield's singing style. Not on the last album's ballad "Nothing Else Matters," but the hard stuff.

"Brooklyn Roads" - You never run out of material in pop music, especially when you can reinvent your origins with every song. Admits that he cries.

"Cracklin Rosie" - "get on board" You know you want to sing it! So go for it.

"Done Too Soon" - It's a who's who of who cares with a snappy horn break. Oh yeah, everyone named is dead.

"Stones" - Arranged and conducted by Lee Holdridge!

"Song Sung Blue" - A guide to singing the blues, just put "a cry in your voice." The last chorus is echoed by a child, look for this on the next Pearl Jam album. "Soolaimon" - Another song featuring God, not like that drippy tripe about him being "a stranger on the bus" but a rocker with a Calypso feel.

"I Am I Said" - "Did you ever read about a frog who dreamed of being a king, and then became one. Well, except for the names and a few other changes you could talk about me and the story is the same one." Ah, honesty in the '70s entertainment world, talk about integrity.

Dear reader, I implore you, don't get left behind. School yourself in the way of the Diamond and get ready for your personal pilgrimage to cool.

Mr. Diamond showcases his recent mastery of the country music industry (a goal beneath his genius) in the ABC television special "Neil Diamond... Under a Tennessee Moon" airing Feb. 24 at 10 p.m. EST.