Stephen Holden

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Last Updated on May 6, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 197

In Beautiful Noise, Neil Diamond recollects his days as a scuffling young Tin Pan Alley writer. Though the songs are better crafted than those on Serenade, there remains an enormous disparity between Diamond's sentimental three-chord songs and their portentous interpretations…. If "Beautiful Noise," "Jungletime," and especially "Street Life" and "Surviving the Life" begin to evoke New York clamor and hustle, none conjures the feelings Diamond wants nearly as well as the classic score for West Side Story did. Still, these songs contain the seeds for a possible Broadway revue …

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Diamond's ballads "Lady Oh," "If You Know What I Mean," "Signs" and "Home Is a Wounded Heart," repeat the formulas of the earlier hits "Holly, Holly," "I Am, I Said," and "Longfellow Serenade." Here, Diamond's flowery clichés and stentorian declarations are underscored with lavish orchestration in an attempt to create pop record equivalents of turn-of-the-century concert chestnuts…. Though Diamond's redundant musical ideas make those songs far less substantial than most of the standard concert song repertoire, it is a tribute to his oratorical skill that they work as dramatic, if corny, pop ballads.

Stephen Holden, in a review of "Beautiful Noise," in Rolling Stone, Issue 219, August 12, 1976, p. 64.

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