Neil (Leslie) Diamond

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Bob Kirsch

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Last Updated on June 7, 2022, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 417

["Beautiful Noise"] is one of the most satisfying and commercially viable albums Diamond has come up with in years, an energetic "up" set that showcases more of the Diamond versatility as a singer and songwriter than both of his past Columbia efforts combined….

[The album] opens with two uptempo, goodtime songs. "Beautiful Noise," as well as being the title cut, is an uptempo expression of some of the joys of the city, especially the era of the late '50s and early '60s in New York when Diamond was first beginning to make noise as a songwriter. The LP, incidentally, is loosely based around the personal feelings of Diamond in that period….

"Stargazer," also probably autobiographical, is another uptempo cut with an almost dixieland clarinet and trumpet break, a song that could easily be adaptable for a Broadway show. One must assume the "Stargazer" is Diamond, or at least someone he knows or knew, a song full of warnings that are happily disregarded.

"Street Life" is another tune that could easily become part of a show, a song that sounds almost as if it could have been included in "West Side Story" and a song that again offers the joys of the city when most in the business are exalting the joys of the country.

Diamond, of course, has not abandoned his mastery of the ballad. "If You Know What I Mean" and "Dry Your Eyes" (co-written with [Robbie] Robertson) are probably the most effective in this format, with the themes of love and the ballad style combined well—a combination Diamond perfected some time ago. One other ballad, "Lady-Oh," is noteworthy especially for the jazzy Tom Scott tenor sax solo.

"Don't Think … Feel," and "Surviving The Life" are the kind of up, optimistic cuts one does not generally associate with Diamond. The first cut is a good natured Caribbean sounding song while the latter is a call to join in, do the best you can and things will probably turn out for the best.

There are other good cuts, like "Jungletime" and "Signs." But the best part of this set are not the individual songs. The best is the variety in writing and singing styles Diamond has come up with and the variety in arrangements he, Robertson, [Nick] DeCaro and [Bob] James have conceived. The music cannot be categorized. Whatever has brought about the various changes, it's Diamond's best in years.

Bob Kirsch, in a review of "Beautiful Noise," in Billboard, Vol. 88, No. 28, July 4, 1976, p. 66.

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