For the first time in his 48-year career, singer/songwriter Neil Diamond has had an album debut at No. 1. "Home Before Dark," produced by Rick Rubin, in his sophomore studio collaboration with Diamond, is the veteran performer's 27th album. Neil has also signed on with ubermanager Irv Azoff, and with this career milestone, the relationship is obviously off to a good start.
To celebrate the release of "Home Before Dark," Neil recently returned to the Bitter End on Bleecker Street in New York, for a homecoming show. He began his career there nearly 50 years ago, as a songwriter working at the famed Brill Building. Clips from Myspace, who sponsored the secret show, include Diamond classics "Cherry, Cherry" and "Sweet Caroline," and features "Pretty Amazing Grace." from the new album.
Neil is preparing an extensive tour in support of "Home Before Dark," and more details can be found at his official site.
I found this album to be a welcome return to Neil's early roots. A collection of strong songs, and Neil is in fine voice. The sparse but effective musical arrangements allow the songs to stand out, and Neil has assembled a stellar cast of players to help him carry the day, including Benmont Tench of the Heartbreakers, and Mike Campell. My personal favorite is "Forgotten," but there's nary a clunker, and for Neil Diamond fans, this is a must-have. The packaging is very classy, a triple gatefold, with a booklet containing lyrics and Neil's personal memories of creating the album and reflections on his life in music.