05/12/08 - Album Review - Neil Diamond "Home Before Dark"

Tutelage Led By Vinny "Bond" Marini Monday, May 12, 2008

NEIL DIAMOND. My experience is, there are three camps when it comes to Neil Diamond. There is, of course, the fans who L-O-V-E Neil Diamond. Then there is the camp that just do not get the attraction to Neil Diamond. And then the third camp who have always been ambivalent about Mr. Diamond.

Right here and now, I will state that I fit into the third camp for the most part. There are songs that I enjoy but I have never owned a Neil Diamond album, cassette or CD.

I was interested in hearing his new outing when I heard that Rick Ruben was the producer for this project. If you do not know Rick Ruben, THIS is from the NY Times. It is a 10 page article, so if you want Rick Ruben Lite, you can read of him HERE.

Rick Ruben produced Johnny Cash's last album and I love how he gets to the rawness of any artist he produces. So, putting Rick with Neil sounded like a choice idea.

The first thing that struck me about HOME BEFORE DARK is, even though there is a full band playing on many of the songs and even an entire string section on others, the sound of the album is basic. The main instrument you hear is Neil's voice. Behind that you can hear the guitar and piano and the rest of the instruments, but they are merely the canvas Neil Diamond is painting on.

Unlike Cash's album where Rubin selected a collection of currect songs for Johnny to craft, this album is all Neil Diamond. An album that he spent 10-months working on before even entering the studio.

On "Pretty Amazing Grace" there are layers of guitars over the strings and piano with Neil's voice weaving in and out. Tempo changes allow the song to flow out of your speakers. You can see a streaming video of the song HERE.

The CD comes with a small brochure and Mr. Diamond outlines the process by which this album took birth. He talks about isolating himself from the world and "most of all, other peoples' music", and the uneasiness this isolation causes.

The album's music comes from his faith and the feelings a new love relationship has brought to him. He speaks of how a friend told him that he should feel lucky to have "another bite of the apple"...another chance to be successful in love and that comment translates to the song "One More Bite Of The Apple", a song that will sound comfortable for Diamond fans.

On "Slow It Down", Neil looks at the world we are all caught up in, and makes the simple suggestion to "See the view, it's for you, just pay some attention" and "Forget about the competition, you're due for an intermission". The music behind the lyrics remind me of floating down the river , slowly enjoying the water carrying you along.

The album was crafted in the studio without charts for the musicians, just Neil Diamonds lyrics and chords and each song was crafted as a group effort. The backing band improvising and adding their skills.

What has been put on vinyl - YES, you can by this on vinyl also - and CD is a uplifting experience. For you Diamond fans, you will be extremely happy. For those of you in camp three, this is the album by Neil Diamond you want to add to your collection. For those of you in group two, those who are not fans, give it a try...you might just surprise yourself.

THE COUCH RATES THIS ALBUM: Home Before Dark by Neil Diamond:

+ 1/2 Turntables (2.5 Out Of 4)

Neil Diamond is touring behind this effort.
19 St. Paul, MN - Xcel Energy Center
22 Sioux City, IA - Tyson Events Center
24 Omaha, NE - Qwest Center Omaha
26 Chicago, IL - United Center
29 Indianapolis, IN - Conseco Fieldhouse
31 Detroit, MI - The Palace of Auburn Hills

3 Cleveland, OH - Quicken Loans Arena
5 Washington, DC - Verizon Center
7 Hartford, CT - XL Center
9 Philadelphia, PA - Wachovia Center
12 New York, NY - Madison Square Garden
18 Pittsburgh, PA - Mellon Arena
20 Albany, NY - Times Union Center
23 Boston, MA - Fenway Park
25 Columbus, OH - Value City Arena at The Schottenstein Center
27 Green Bay, WI - Resch Center
29 St. Louis, MO - Scottrade Center

14 Winnipeg, MB - MTS Center
16 Edmonton, AB - Rexall Place
18 Calgary, AB - Pengrowth Saddledome
20 Vancouver, BC - General Motors Place
22 Portland, OR - Rose Garden
24 Seattle, WA - KeyArena at Seattle Center
26 Sacramento, CA - ARCO Arena
28 San Jose, CA - HP Pavilion

1 Los Angeles, CA - Hollywood Bowl
7 San Diego, CA - San Diego Sports Arena
10 Phoenix, AZ - Jobing.com Arena
12 San Antonio, TX - AT&T Center
14 Houston, TX - Toyota Center
17 Dallas, TX - American Airlines Center
19 Oklahoma City, OK - Ford Center
21 Tulsa, OK - BOK Center
24 Tampa, FL - St. Pete Times Forum
26 Ft. Lauderdale, FL - BankAtlantic Center
28 Orlando, FL - Amway Arena Orlando
30 Jacksonville, FL - Jacksonville Veterans Memorial Arena