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Thursday, October 3, 2013

Neil Diamond - The Bang Years (1966-68 us, superb pearly folk sunny psych, his best masterwork, 2011 remastered)

Neil Diamond transitioned from professional songwriter to performer when he signed with Bang Records in 1966. There, he cut two albums -- his 1966 debut The Feel of Neil Diamond and its 1967 sequel Just for You -- that contained his greatest songs: “Solitary Man,” “Cherry, Cherry,” “Girl, You’ll Be a Woman Soon,” “Kentucky Woman,” “Thank the Lord for the Night Time,” “I’m a Believer,” “Red, Red Wine,” “The Boat That I Row,” “You Got to Me,” and “Shilo.” 

All these, along with the rest of the two Bang albums all presented out of LP order, are on Columbia/Legacy’s 2011 The Bang Years: 1966-1968, by far the best overview ever assembled of this crucial era for Diamond. It’s not just that these are Diamond’s best songs but these are his best records: crisp, lively, colorful pop tunes balanced by luxurious moody brooding ballads. 

Once he turned into a superstar Diamond tended to rely on his innate showmanship, but here at the beginning of his career he sounded hungry and knew how to have fun, giving these records a snap that still stings decades later. And Diamond knows just how good these recordings are, as indicated by the terrific autobiographical liner notes he’s penned for this collection, notes that give this music context, but they’re not necessary to appreciate The Bang Years: this is pop music that’s so pure it needs no explanation.
by Stephen Thomas Erlewine

1. Solitary Man - 2:34
2. Cherry, Cherry - 2:47
3. Girl, You’ll Be a Woman Soon - 3:00
4. Kentucky Woman - 2:26
5. Thank the Lord For the Night Time - 3:03
6. You Got to Me - 2:52
7. I’m a Believer - 2:44
8. Red, Red Wine - 2:41
9. Boat That I Row - 2:39
10. Do It - 1:55
11. New Orleans (Frank Guida, Joseph Roster) - 2:26
12. Monday, Monday (John Phillips) - 3:01
13. Red Rubber Ball (Paul Simon) - 2:23
14. I’ll Come Running - 3:02
15. La Bamba (Ritchie Valens) - 2:09
16. Long Way Home - 2:31
17. I’ve Got the Feeling (Oh No No) - 2:20
18. You’ll Forget - 2:49
19. Love To Love - 2:22
20. Someday Baby - 2:18
21. Hanky Panky (Jeff Barry, Ellie Greenwich) - 2:49
22. Time Is Now - 3:06
23. Shilo - 3:25
All songs by Neil Diamond except where noted.

*Neil Diamond - Acoustic Guitar, Vocals
*Hugh McCrackin - Guitar, Harmonica
*Al Gorgoni, Sal DiTroia, Charlie Macy, Bill Suyker - Guitar
*Eric Gayle - Electric Guitar
*Artie Kaplan - Saxophone
*Eddie Bert, Nicky Gravine, Benny Powell - Trombone
*Artie Butler - Piano, Organ
*Herb Lavelle, Gary Chester , Buddy Saltzman - Drums
*Ellie Greenwich, Jeff Barry - Tambourine, Hand Claps, Background Vocals
*George Devens - Percussion

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