Neil (Leslie) Diamond

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Melody Maker

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Besides "Cracklin' Rosie," [Neil Diamond's] hit single, "Tap Root Manuscript" contains what is presumably his magnum opus to date, a seven-part work called (somewhat paradoxically) "The African Trilogy," subtitled "A Folk Ballet." Diamond's note on the sleeve explains that this is his homage to African music, and it's obviously a very heartfelt thing. Fortunately he does it from his point of view, rather than throwing in a load of pseudo-Africanisms, and if the result isn't terribly profound, at least it's entertaining (what?). Particularly enjoy-able are the groovy "Soolaimon" and a track called "Miisa," which calls to mind the "Missa Luba" by the Choir of King Baudoin…. On the other side there's Neil's smooth rendering of "He Ain't Heavy," which made the American charts as a single, and a beautiful song called "Coldwater Morning," with a fine arrangement by Lee Holdridge. A very worthy album, then, but I hope that "The African Trilogy" doesn't presage a venture into heaviness and pretension. I'd be happy if he just kept writing things like "Cherry Cherry" and "Sweet Caroline."

R.W., "Diamond in Darkest Africa," in Melody Maker, February 27, 1971, p. 15.

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