Neil Diamond – Gold (Live at the Troubadour)

Artist: Neil Diamond
Genere: Pop, Rock
Title: Gold
Label: United Artist
Format: Vinyl
Musicians: Neil Diamond – vocals, guitar, Carol Hunter – guitar, Eddie Rubin – drums, Randy Sterling – bass guitar, Jessie Smith,Venetta Fields, Edna Hunter – backing vocals (uncredited)
Engineer: Armin Steiner

Gold: Recorded Live at the Troubadour is a live album by singer/songwriter Neil Diamond. In fact, a just starting out Neil Diamond to be exact. This was just before he started becoming more popular.
On this LP we hear Neil Diamond not quite ready for prime time, but giving it his all which includes straining his voice. Neil’s voice appears gravelly at various points. It also does not help that the vocals end up getting distorted here and there. While no singles were released in support of the album, the opening track “Lordy” appeared as the B-side of “Cracklin’ Rosie”. Something to note is that the song “Lordy” on this LP is the only recording available of this song.

Some points about this LP: First of all, it was recorded properly for a live LP. In other words, no studio tricks or silence between tracks (although the tracks are banded, but the space of “silence” between them are nearly undetectable to the listener). While the music is lively, sadly, that is where the goodness nearly ends. As usual with the United Artist label of which this record is on, not much care is taken for the pressings and sound. Even for a live LP, this album sounds a bit thin. The bottom end is almost not in the mix or at least not in the proper place. As mentioned earlier the vocals as well as other nuances get distorted here and there, but while it is almost expected to happen on live LPs, it could have been done better and I have heard better. Although, we can also account for the times, 1970 technology was not up to it. (We can also rule out my cartridge and rig before even starting).
Still, I feel that this is an LP worth having in that it captures the artist in their beginnings and has a feel for the times, not to mention that no subsequent LPs by the artist sounds like it.

Side One:
Lordy – There is an old rule of thumb, start your live shows aggressively, you want to capture the audience attention early on. That rule is in effect here. “Lordy” is a musically aggressive number and lyrically aggressive as well, in fact, a pretty hard rocker for Neil Diamond. This is part of the reason it is collectible along with the fact that it only appears on this LP. The lyric reason:
Lady, she got painted eyes
Have a way of talking to you
Cut your heart out for the prize
While the bitch sings hallelujah”
This is the only time Neil used lyrics of such a nature.
Both Sides Now – This is a Joni Mitchell cover. The vocals are improved here a little. It is an ok version, but the original is better as is usually the case.
Solitary Man – This is one of my favorite Neil Diamond songs. This early version features female backup vocals, but the later versions of the song without the backup vocals are better in my opinion. From Wikipedia: Recorded in February 1966 and Initially released on Bang Records in April 1966, “Solitary Man” was Diamond’s debut single as a recording artist, having already had moderate–but accidental–success as a songwriter for other artists. While nominally about young romantic failure. Diamond originally recorded two versions of the song, as he later did with “Cherry, Cherry.” One version had his harmonic vocal track on the refrain of the song, along with accompaniment by a wordless female chorus. The other version was him singing the song alone, without his prerecorded harmony or the female chorus. On such live albums as Gold: Recorded Live at the Troubadour, Hot August Night and some subsequent recordings, Diamond altered the lyrics to “then you came along” from the original “then Sue came along.”
Holly Holy – This version has a very thin sound to it, which is likely part of the live recording abilities or lack thereof. In my opinion, the later version is better. From Wikipedia: “Holly Holy” is a song written and recorded by Neil Diamond with instrumental backing provided by L.A. session musicians from The Wrecking Crew. A work with a spiritual focus, “Holly Holy” was influenced by gospel music and was Diamond’s favorite of the songs he had written to that point. It begins quietly with acoustic guitar against a bass line, with the sparse lyric stretched with elongated vowels. Gradually the arrangement builds up with a tempo shift in the bridge and a backing choir against strings lasting throughout. “Holly Holy” was later included on Diamond’s November 1969 album Touching You, Touching Me. It has been included in live versions on Diamond’s Hot August Night (from 1972) and Greatest Hits: 1966–1992 (from 1992), as well as in various compilations.
Cherry Cherry – This is one of Neil Diamond’s more famous songs. It is obvious with this song that he was writing for other artists before such as The Monkees for whom he also wrote “I’m A Believer” among others. I like this further rocked up version with the gravel vocals even though the sound is a bit thin here. From Wikipedia: The song (originally intended as a demo) was arranged by Artie Butler and produced by Jeff Barry and Ellie Greenwich. It was issued as a 45 single in 1966 and became Diamond’s first big hit. Ellie Greenwich came up with the chorus and can be heard as the prominent background voice. Diamond has stated that the song was inspired by an early relationship with a significantly older woman. Rolling Stone would later label “Cherry, Cherry” as “one of the greatest three-chord songs of all time.” Two versions of “Cherry, Cherry” have been released. The version familiar to most listeners was recorded in late January 1966 and released by Bang Records in mid-1966, and was recorded as a demo, with Butler on keyboards, and Greenwich on backing vocals. The other version, with different lyrics and originally intended to be released as the single, was finally released by Diamond and Sony Music Entertainment in 1996 on the compilation album In My Lifetime.

Side Two
Kentucky Woman – This is the usual version, but with a somewhat more aggressive voice for this live version. “Kentucky Woman” is a 1967 song written and originally recorded by Neil Diamond. Another well-known version is the 1968 recording by Deep Purple. From Wikipedia: Diamond recorded “Kentucky Woman” as his last hit single for Bang Records. Released in October 1967. The song was mixed in monophonic, which is the common version heard on all Neil Diamond compilations featuring original Bang singles. The only known stereo mix was done in 1978 for a Frog King/Columbia House album called Early Classics, which has never been released on CD.
Sweet Caroline – Not my favorite ND song, but it’s OK. The later version is a bit better. From Wikipedia: In the autumn of 1969, Diamond performed “Sweet Caroline” on several television shows.  In a 2007 interview, Diamond stated the inspiration for his song was John F. Kennedy’s daughter, Caroline, who was eleven years old at the time it was released. Diamond sang the song to her at her 50th birthday celebration in 2007. On December 21, 2011, in an interview on CBS’s The Early Show, Diamond said that a magazine cover photo of Caroline Kennedy as a young child on a horse with her parents in the background created an image in his mind, and the rest of the song came together about five years after seeing the picture. However, in 2014 Diamond said the song was about his then-wife Marsha, but he needed a three-syllable name to fit the melody. There are three distinct mixes of this song. The original mono 45 mix had a louder orchestra and glockenspiel compared to the stereo version on the Brother Love’s Travelling Salvation Show LP. The third version was a remix found only on the initial CD release of Diamond’s His 12 Greatest Hits. This version has the orchestra mixed down and has the background vocals mixed up. It has a longer fade as well. A live version of the song is on his Hot August Night LP.
Thank The Lord For The Nightime – Back to the rock sound on this gospel inspired number. This early version is better than the later ones in my opinion.
And The Singer Sings His Song – This is one of ND’s lessor known songs that later would end up being the title of one of his compilation LPs. This is a quiet song and in this live version the vocals are pretty bad, but he does hit the notes.
Brother Love’s Travelling Salvation Show – This is an interesting song and the later versions are better in my opinion. The song tells the story of Brother Love, an evangelist who travels from town to town preaching. In the middle of the song, Diamond gives a sermon in typical evangelical style. From Wikipedia: Some evangelical groups in the American South encouraged the boycotting of this song and of Diamond as they thought that this song denigrated and insulted evangelists and the evangelical movement. When Diamond explained in an interview that it was, contrary to their understanding of it, a celebration of Gospel music and the evangelical style of preaching and worship, the controversy subsided. The original 45 mix of the title cut differs from the album version. Aside from being in mono, extra reverb is used throughout the whole song. Neil Diamond’s voice was overdubbed, creating a harmony. A tubular bell part were added following the phrase “Take my hand in yours…”. The fade-out of the song is longer, with a louder horn section and a rattling tambourine part. All of Diamond’s CD compilations have used the album mix.

SOUND: 5_Star_Rating_System_2_and_a_half_stars


Thank The Lord For The Nightime:

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