Archive for the ‘Neil Diamond’ Category
- Although nobody seems to know if The Beach Boys’ SMiLE is indeed coming out, Capitol’s offering a mini-consolation prize for the moment: a special single release for Record Store Day in April. This double-78 RPM single features one disc with the original versions of “Good Vibrations” and “Heroes and Villains,” and another with alternate takes of each song. (These are presumably alternates as previously released on the Smiley Smile/Wild Honey two-fer.)
- Legacy has updated their info on the much-anticipated The Bang Masters by Neil Diamond. The release date has been bumped up, from March 14 to March 8, and Diamond himself will pen liner notes for the compilation. Hooray!
- Here’s a treat for Beatlemaniacs: George Harrison’s official site will stream The Concert for George, the 2002 tribute concert to the late Beatle, for free on Friday starting at 8 a.m. London time. The concert will be released on Blu-Ray and digital download on March 22.
- No track lists yet, but our friends at Record Racks have tipped us off to some two-disc compilations from Concord Music Group covering The Definitive Miles Davis on Prestige, The Definitive Bill Evans on Riverside and Fantasy and The Definitive Albert King on Stax for April 5. Plan accordingly.
- KROQ-FM is reporting that a deluxe edition of Arcade Fire’s The Suburbs, this year’s Grammy winner for Album of the Year and creator of an unfortunate Internet meme, is due out this spring. It may include extra tracks and a DVD of the band’s forthcoming film Scenes from the Suburbs, directed by Spike Jonze and due to premiere at the Berlin Film Festival this year.
Come this March, Neil Diamond won’t be such a solitary man. Diamond will find plenty of stellar company when he’s inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame on March 14. While Diamond has maintained his superstar status in both the recording studio and the concert stage for 45 years, chances are that the recordings he made for Bang Records between 1966 and 1968 were foremost on voters’ minds when choosing to induct the singer into the venerable hall. It’s during this period that Diamond “graduated” from the Brill Building ranks and established himself as a formidable rock and roll force with the albums The Feel of Neil Diamond and Just for You for Bert Berns’ vibrant New York label.
Yet the 27 unique recordings released by Diamond on Bang (consisting of 25 individual songs, with “Shilo” and “Solitary Man” released in two distinct versions each) have for the most part been unavailable in the CD era. A 1983 compilation, Classics: The Early Years (Columbia 38792), was duly issued on compact disc in 1986, but only collected twelve of Diamond’s hits. Other Bang rarities have since trickled out on various box sets and anthologies, but the Bang era has never been collected comprehensively, nor have the original albums seen reissue. This is particularly ironic because Diamond’s status as a hitmaker was in high gear, aided by the production of Jeff Barry and Ellie Greenwich: “Cherry, Cherry,” “Girl, You’ll Be a Woman Soon,” “Solitary Man,” and “Shilo” all originated during the Bang years.
This finally changes with the March release, timed to coincide with the Rock Hall induction, of The Bang Years 1966-1968. So what’s included, and what hasn’t made the cut? Hit the jump to find out, including full track listing and discographical details! Read the rest of this entry »
- Pearl Jam have confirmed that there are more reissues forthcoming from their extensive discography, to commemorate their 20th anniversary. The Seattle rockers, who reissued landmark debut Ten (1991) as a Legacy Edition in 2009 and will release a live anthology, Live on Ten Legs, later this month, are planning similar deluxe sets for Vs. (1993) and Vitalogy (1994) later this year. A documentary directed by Cameron Crowe is also planned.
- We’re not sure if this is going to be a missed opportunity quite yet, but MusicTAP reports a March 1 release date for an as-yet-unspecified compilation of Neil Diamond material from Columbia/Legacy – specifically, concerning Diamond’s years on the Bang label (which produced first hits “Solitary Man” and “Cherry Cherry”). Fans have been waiting for an exhaustive clearing of the Bang vaults – see Joe’s superb Reissue Theory post speculating upon such a set – but it remains to be seen as to what exactly this set’s going to be. (Don’t forget that Diamond owns those Bang masters, so it falls on him to utilize them as much as it does Legacy.) This new set is coming out March 1.
- There’s going to be a release of material from Yes’ Union tour in 1991. This era of the band, which featured a massive collection of Yes men (Jon Anderson on vocals, Trevor Rabin and Steve Howe on guitar, keyboardists Tony Kaye and Rick Wakeman, bassist Chris Squire and drummers Alan White and Bill Bruford – essentially every classic member of the band), resulted in a tour that was the favorite of many fans. The bulk of this set is a professionally-shot, briefly-released live show from the Shoreline Amphitheatre in Mountain View, California on August 8, 1991, presented both on DVD and two CDs. Another bonus DVD will feature some official bootleg material from the tour. Read all about it from our friends at Addicted to Vinyl and order it here.
The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame announced its inductees earlier this evening, and the results are actually quite exciting.
The artists inducted are Alice Cooper, Neil Diamond, Dr. John, Darlene Love and Tom Waits. Leon Russell is getting the Award for Musical Excellence (formerly known as the Sidemen category) while the Ahmet Ertegun Award will go to Jac Holzman (founder of Elektra Records) and Art Rupe (founder of Specialty Records, the label that gave us Little Richard and “Tutti Frutti”).
Much of the press will go to Diamond finally receiving the credit he deserves as a rock artist, but this class – all consisting of solid performers from the 1960s and 1970s – is a bright one for fans of classic rock and roll. Let’s hope these accolades get the major labels to honor those artists with some nice reissues or box sets. (Here is a good place to start!)
The induction ceremony will air live on Fuse from New York City’s Waldorf-Astoria on March 14.
Long before he read about a frog who dreamed of being a king – and then became one – Neil Diamond was an up-and-coming songwriter in the waning days of the Brill Building. After a few unsuccessful stabs at recording in the early part of the decade, Diamond was taken under the wing of Jeff Barry, Ellie Greenwich and Bert Berns. In January 1966, the hits started coming: first “Sunday and Me” for Jay and the Americans, then “I’m A Believer” and “A Little Bit Me, A Little Bit You,” both for the Monkees.
Riding this wave of success, Diamond resumed his own singing career, with his first session for Bang Records taking place on January 25, 1966, one day after his 25th birthday. Berns’ Bang label was riding high: the McCoys’ “Hang On, Sloopy” had topped the Billboard chart, the Strangeloves had a Top 20 hit with “I Want Candy,” and a young Irishman named Van Morrison was waiting in the wings for his solo debut on the young label. While at Bang, Diamond waxed his first hit singles, many of which became instant classics: “Solitary Man,” “Cherry, Cherry” and “Kentucky Woman” among them. He also established solid credentials as both a bona fide rock-and-roller and a songwriter of some introspection, although both traits were somewhat underplayed when his music took a MOR turn in the seventies. But I’m getting ahead of myself…
After two albums and Berns’ untimely death at only 38, Diamond’s relations with Bang grew sour. He decamped amid lawsuits for Uni Records, California and greater stardom. When the superstar gained control of his Bang master recordings in 1977, he subsequently licensed them to Columbia House on his own Frog King label, and later to Columbia proper. Yet these seminal recordings have largely remained absent from his catalogue since then, despite the number of hit songs that remain in his repertoire from this era. (The only official all-Bang release available is Classics: The Early Years (Columbia CK 38792); other tracks have surfaced on too many compilations to mention.) For my first Reissue Theory, I present my dream project for Columbia/Legacy, and one which has been long-rumored but never confirmed: Neil Diamond – The Bang Masters. These are the tracks which have made Mr. Diamond a permanent resident of Little Steven’s Underground Garage, and which remain an important part of the sound of the 1960s New York rock and roll scene.
Due to Bang’s incessant repackaging in the years following Diamond’s ascent from shopping songwriter to worldwide music icon, multiple variations exist of virtually every one of the 25 songs recorded by Diamond for the label. These variations include original mono and stereo mixes, remixes in both mono and stereo, and even “fake stereo” mixes and remixes! Multiple edits exist of many of these titles, as well as alternate versions with radically different instrumentation and vocals, most notably “Solitary Man” and “Shilo.” (The autobiographical “Shilo” would be recorded yet again for Uni.) But any reissue should center on the two core albums in the Neil Diamond Bang catalog: The Feel of Neil Diamond (Bang LP 214, 1966) and Just For You (Bang LP 217, 1967). Together, the LPs are a nice mix of big hits, largely unknown album tracks and even some surprising covers.
I’ve included both albums in their familiar stereo mixes on Disc 1 and then rounded up the cream of the assorted singles and tracks which appeared on compilations only. Disc 2 features both albums in mono, followed by the most interesting of the literally dozens of variant mixes. On both discs, I’ve deleted “Solitary Man” from the original Just For You lineup, as it is essentially the same recording from The Feel of Neil Diamond. I’ve substituted distinct alternate mixes of the song. Read my hypothetical track listing after the jump, and then if you’re still interested in exploring these long-lost recordings, visit the definitive site Neil Diamond on Bang. This site’s work in uncovering the multiple Bang variations has proven invaluable, and only a bona fide box set for the Diamond diehard could contain all of the material that has been unearthed. Along with listening from my own collection, it proved a major resource in compiling this Reissue Theory. Read the rest of this entry »