Friday, 6 November 2009

Super Diamond the next best thing to real Neil

Believe it or not, there was really a time when Neil Diamond wasn't super-cool.
American songwriters one of the great -- "I'm a Believer," "Cracklin' Rosie," "Girl, You'll Be a Woman Soon," "Solitary Man," "Kentucky Woman," "Song Sung Blue," "I Am ... I Said" and, yes, "Sweet Caroline" -- two decades ago Diamond was nothing more than what your parents liked.
Which makes Randy Cordero a bit of a trailblazer.
Sixteen years ago, Cordero and some friends in the San Francisco Bay area formed what was to become the Diamond tribute band Super Diamond. The group, for which Cordero is the lead singer, plays nothing but Diamond songs and will do so this Friday at the 9:30 Club.
"He had all these great songs I grew up with that no one paid attention to," Cordero said during a recent phone interview. "I thought this would be fun to do in a club setting. I expected more boos than cheers."
The fact that it wasn't the cool thing to do to cover Diamond was partly why Cordero started the group.
"The Beatles have a bunch of great songs, but there's a lot of people who do them," said Cordero, who can do a solid Diamond impersonation. "It wasn't safe. The tide has really changed since I started doing it."
In current years, the 68 year old Diamond has recorded two critically acclaimed, Rick Rubin produced albums that went gold and has sold out arenas across the country. The plot of the 2001 film "Saving Silverman" includes a Diamond cover band, and Diamond makes a cameo in the film. But Cordero doesn't attribute Diamond's resurgence to his band's early allegiance to the star.
"I wouldn't take any credit for that," he said. "We're not any more than a club band.
"It's a tribute to Neil Diamond, not us," Cordero added.
A Super Diamond show feels like a party and promises all the hits.
Diamond himself has endorsed Super Diamond, even sitting in with the band once at a show, something Cordero will never forget.
"It was surreal," he said. "It was great. We didn't have to rehearse. He knew the songs."

Monday, 2 November 2009

The album that made Diamond a music gem, long play

Loyal creature fan Neil Diamond . Under attack, it will hold its lovingly worn copy of Hot August Night high, shielding itself from the stinging rain of musical snobbery.
For every critic who accuses Diamond of padding out his canon with pretentious, overblown fluff, there's a supporter who will point to the statistics that prove him to be one of soft rock's most successful acts, perhaps failing to realise that the evidence supports both positions.
YouTube subscriber shutterbugk8 states pithily: Neil Diamond, musical genius, the Mozart of our time.
Again, the comparison arguably swings two ways.
Live double album Hot August Night (1972) marked Diamond's coming of age as a performer. Recorded during a 10 date stint at the Greek Theatre in Los Angeles, it captured the moment the one-time-anonymous Brill Building songwriter became big arena showman, confidently counting off his back catalogue of hits while toying with spontaneity.
Not for nothing was Diamond dubbed the Jewish Elvis. The album's orchestral prologue built glorious tension before the core instruments made their entry, Vegas-style, kicking off a rousing rendition of Crunchy Granola Suite, with Diamond punctuating his vocals with a "Good Lord!" here and a "Dig!" there. It was spine tingling stuff, this homage to a breakfast cereal.
Diamond flicked effortlessly between growling rocker and crooning balladeer, delivering astutely arranged readings of his quirky repertoire. The odd vocal glitch only added to the immediacy and trueness of the recording, which held the listener in thrall in the same way it did the audience in the arena and the tree people on the hill.
The top drawer numbers were all there Solitary Man; Cherry Cherry; Sweet Caroline; Red, Red Wine; Girl, You'll Be A Woman Soon; and Cracklin Rosie among them. So were the clangers. Porcupine Pie, anyone?
But by the time Brother Love's Traveling Salvation Show wound to its feverish climax, more than a few unbelievers had been converted.