Thursday, December 15, 2016


Here's the last of the Christmas releases to come my way this year, and I did have some hopes for it. I thought, Neil Diamond, acoustic guitar, kind of an unplugged Christmas vibe, there might be something there. Unfortunately, that's not exactly what they meant by acoustic. Instead, it's very produced, with strings and horns and Irish instruments, and tons of keyboards. It's not far removed from a Michael Buble or Rod Stewart Christmas album. That's probably what they are hoping for, too. After all, those were huge, multi-million-selling releases, and when you do have a breakthrough Christmas album, it's the gift that keeps on giving for record companies and superstars. That's probably why not one, but two huge "name" producers made this set, Don Was and Jacknife Lee.

On some songs, the acoustic thing does work for Diamond, such as Children Go Where I Send Thee, with its gospel arrangement, backing choir, and Neil getting his groove on. Also, he did some writing too, three originals that aren't too bad at all, including the fun #1 Record For Christmas. But the overwrought carols suffer from the same-old, same-old syndrome, too many instruments, and Diamond in his You Don't Bring Me Flowers-style of dramatic singing. And he's risking the wrath of a nation with his faux-Irish accent on Christmas In Killarney. If there is a Santa Claus, this won't be a #1 record.

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