The decision to make a modern version of Al Jolson's "Jazz Singer" in 1980 is one of the more dubious ideas to come out of Hollywood. Putting singer Neil Diamond in the Jolson role opposite Laurence Olivier as his cantor father and Lucy Arnaz as the woman he loves had only one sure upside in that Diamond also did the music for the film. If your choice is between watching the film or listening to the soundtrack, then listen to the soundtrack.
Diamond was inspired by the immigrant element of the story to honor the national melting pot in the opening song "America," along with one of his better ballads from that part of his career "Hello Again." The songs also play to Diamond's strength in that several of them would be done "live" in the context of the film, and anyone who has listened to "Hot August Night" or any other concert album by Diamond knows he is a lot better live than he is in the studio. In retrospect that is clearly the point in Diamond's career where the hard rock and gospel influences went away and he began a soft rock/pop artist where songs like "Love on the Rocks" and "Summerlove" became the norm. His early songs are arguably his best, but it was not until his 1976 album "Beautiful Noise" that Diamond ever had an album go platinum.
To his credit Diamond does come up with songs that meet the narrative needs of the film, not that this is a reason to watch the movie, so do not accuse me of advocating you do that. There is no reason for you to see that "You Baby" is part of an awkward homage, for lack of a better word, to Jolson in black face. Also worked into the mix are some traditional Jewish songs, "Adon Olom" and "Kol Nidre/My Name Is Yussel," and Diamond makes an earnest attempt to do them right. The resulting mix might be uneven, but there are enough solid songs here to make this an above average Neil Diamond album.