In 1974 Neil Diamond released Rainbow
, an album of covers which featured songs by Leonard Cohen and Randy Newman amongst others. Now we have Dreams a second album of covers, which also features songs by those two writers amongst others, plus a new arrangement of his own song, I'm A Believer. Thirty six years is a long time to wait for a follow up. (If you ignore The Movie Album As Time Goes By
that is, and the cover photo alone of that one is warning that you should.) Was the wait worthwhile? I guess that will depend on the esteem in which you hold the original versions of the songs.
While I admire the writing of the likes of Randy Newman, Bill Withers, and Leon Russell, I have never been a big fan of their singing, so having their songs sung by Neil suits me. He seems to want to put a stamp on the songs by changing the lead instrument on a number of them. For example Desperado and Alone Again Naturally, both piano driven in the original versions, are guitar led here, while the opposite is true of Let It Be Me. The very intimate arrangement of this last named makes it one of the stand out tracks on the album. The other is the aforementioned, I'm A Believer. Diamond has said that after he wrote it, he just didn't think it was right for him and that is why it was given to The Monkees. In recent years he has been doing it in concert, pretty much as they did it, but now he seems to have found an arrangement with which he is more comfortable.
While billed as some of the artist's favourite songs of the rock era, I don't think any of the fourteen tracks could be considered rock songs, but very enjoyable for a quiet night in with the lights turned low.
Track by track information for those looking for more detail on what is being covered.
1 Ain't no Sunshine - written by Bill Withers. Unfortunately keeps the repetition which is something of a Withers trademark and spoils his songs.
2 Blackbird - Paul McCartney's much covered song, with a country fiddle added to the arrangement in place of the intrusive slap percussion of the original.
3 Alone Again Naturally - A self penned hit for Anglo/Irish Gilbert O' Sullivan in 1972, and a rather surprising inclusion.
4 Feels Like Home - The first of two Randy Newman songs.
5 Midnight Train To Georgia - Written by Jim Weatherly best known as a hit for Gladys Knight.
6 I'm A Believer - Slow arrangement of his own song which was a huge hit for The Monkees in the up tempo version. Nice acoustic guitar work
7 Love Song - Written by the late Lesley Duncan and covered by Elton John on Tumbleweed Connection.
8 Losing You - Second of two by Randy Newman. Acoustic guitar to the fore.
9 Hallelujah - One of the best by Leonard Cohen, currently much in vogue and covered.
10 Song For You - Leon Russell's song. Big arrangement and orchestration with sax, slightly out of step with the rest of the album
11 Yesterday - Probably the most covered popular song of all time, not sure that we need another version, but it is almost inevitable that it will be included in an album of covers.
12 Let It Be Me - Was originally the French language song Je t'appartiens with music by Gilbert Bécaud. The English version with lyrics by Mann Curtis was a big hit for The Everly Brothers.
13 Desperado - Written by Don Henley and Glen Frey and the title track of the Eagles' 1975 album.
14 Don't Forget Me - One of the lesser known tracks by the late Harry Nilsson, overpowering horn arrangement.