Neil (Leslie) Diamond Vicki Pipkin - Essay

Vicki Pipkin

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

[The movie "The Jazz Singer"] allows Diamond's strength in music to be used extensively, and that helps the sometimes corny musical drama….

[The] interpersonal conflict between [father and son] … provides the best emotional moments of the EMI film in both dialog and music. For example, when his father rents his clothing to mourn the son's "death," a Jewish custom signifying that he has been disowned, Diamond heads for parts unknown, dirty, scuffy, and poignantly delivers "Hello Again" and "Amazed and Confused."

"Love on the Rocks," a powerful ballad in true Diamond style, is done at a studio session where a famous rock singer was to make it uptempo instead….

Diamond wrote and performs the music on Capitol Records and collaborated on selected compositions with Gilbert Becaud, Richard Bennett, Alan Lindgren and Doug Rhone.

He gets in a few country licks complete with fiddle on "You Are My Sunshine," and movingly delivers "Songs Of Life." Even the traditional Jewish songs, done in Hebrew offer a special sensitivity.

And the predictable conclusion to "The Jazz Singer" cannot remove the thunder from Diamond's up-tempo and style in "America."

But the movie is titled "The Jazz Singer" although it does not contain one jazz or jazz-fusion number. This will, no doubt, bring frowns from jazz purists and fusionists alike.

Vicki Pipkin, "No Jazz Heard in 'Jazz Singer' Film," in Billboard, Vol. 92, No. 51, December 20, 1980, p. 20.