Release Date: Nov 2, 2010
Record label: Columbia
Genre(s): Vocal, Pop/Rock, Vocal Pop
Johnny Cash's Rick Rubin-produced American Recordings series of bleak covers has provided many a mature performer with a blueprint for career rebirth. However, after previously working with Rubin on mostly original material (including 2008's Home Before Dark, Diamond's first ever US/UK No 1), Dreams works better than most. The 69-year-old singer – who has confessed in interviews to having virtually no real friends – has unearthed the lonely, desolate heart of songs as diverse as Bill Withers's Ain't No Sunshine and Gilbert O'Sullivan's once-jaunty Alone Again (Naturally).
The list of nominees for entrance into the Rock and Roll of Fame 2011 includes Neil Diamond. He should make it in, not just because he has sold well over 100 million records worldwide and has a successful career of that has lasted more than four decades, but because he’s an important icon by which we measure our cultural sophistication. As Bill Murray said as the title character in the film What About Bob?, “There are two types of people in the world: those who like Neil Diamond and those who don’t.” He’s an untalented hack to some and a multitalented genius to others.
After years of getting the Rick Rubin career reboot treatment, which proved enormously effective on 2008's surprise smash Home Before Dark, the golden-voiced American singer takes it easy on himself on Dreams, a stripped-down covers record, the one exception being I'm A Believer (though most assume it's a Monkees song anyway). Diamond's song selection will hardly shake anyone's world - two each by the Beatles and Randy Newman - but he has the vocal power to make many cuts his own. Jim Weatherly's Midnight Train To Georgia and Leonard Cohen's Hallelujah are standouts, while Diamond found a way to further mellow out the Eagles' Desperado.
After two excellent collaborations with Rick Rubin, Neil Diamond can't resist taking the production reins himself for this collection of (mostly) covers. His liner notes claim these songs as some of his favorites from the "rock era" -- implying it's over. While this set is more intimate than most of his overblown production of the last 30 years, it is a step away from the simplicity of his work with Rubin, featuring full strings, chamber reeds, winds, and brass on various cuts.
A splendid showcase for Diamond’s evergreen, emotive voice. Chris Roberts 2010 Neil Diamond, 70 this coming January, rebooted his cred over the 00s with two pomp-free, Rick Rubin-produced albums. The second, Home Before Dark, gave him his first ever US/UK number one. So he may feel he’s earned the right to indulge in a cosy, Strictly Results Show-friendly covers record.
It’s such a disappointment when something you hope is going to be great is, well, such a disappointment. That’s the case with Dreams, the latest album from Neil Diamond. On his last release, the Rick Rubin-produced Home Before Dark, Diamond was in good creative shape as a writer, even if it seemed he had lost a little vocal momentum, which is to be expected for a guy pushing 70.