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 Everett True

a Diamond in the smooth

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Damn, I’m excited. We’re going to see Neil Diamond tonight!

Never mind the fact it’s the middle of nowhere, and parking is $10 a go. Never mind the fact the heat is sweltering and stupid outside, and Daniel woke us up before 4.30am last night. Never mind the fact we’re probably going to have to miss the encores unless we want to get caught in the rush and pay another $50 to the babysitter. We’re going to see Neil! The man who wrote the music to my favourite Altered Images single (with John Peel on backing vocals) AND my favourite Urge Overkill single AND my favourite Monkees single … and I’m not sure that I don’t prefer his versions, every time! Altogether now:

Here’s what I wrote with my old band-mate Jamie Sellers (somewhat tongue-in-cheek) about one of the perennial charity store albums of the UK, Neil Diamond’s His 12 Greatest Hits, for my Record Rummage blog a while back.

Um. OK. Here’s another one. Neil. He’s a diamond in the smooth.

His 12 Greatest Hits
(MCA, 1974)

It may be his 12 greatest hits, but it’s not his 12 best songs is it? Although it does feature the crunchy and calorific ‘Cracklin’ Rosie’. The sleeve is a sumptuous shade of silver, with Neil’s hair big and puffed out like a darker shade of candyfloss, his chest an extension of that. You can’t actually see where his first button is done up, but he has attitude. Neil possibly took himself a teensy-weensy bit too seriously by this stage of his career, too many people telling him he was a close relative of God. He looks more like Peter Frampton or one of the New Seekers. The more gravity Neil tries to add to ‘Sweet Caroline’ with his deep valentine baritone, the more plodding it becomes. Still, we are talking impeachable class: ‘Song Sung Blue’, ‘I Am … I Said’, ‘Play Me’. One of us once took our secretary – who strangely had a weird lazy left eye, same as Neil if the album cover is anything to go by – to the opening of a new restaurant at Wembley Arena at a Neil Diamond show. She was dating the chairman of the Young Conservatives who had some rather rabid views on the nobility of fox hunting; and many a joke was made about the quality of kindness in glass eyes. We dined on only the choicest sweetmeats, quaffed sparkling champagne and trilled lightly in the aisles while Neil ran through a consummately professional outing of his hits, and a few new ones just to show he hadn’t lost it. We left halfway through the show, to meet a lady at an airport. And that was the end of the date.
Cost £1, bargain value 6.5, slip cover 0

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