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Play Me: The Complete Uni Studio Recordings...Plus!

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Neil Diamond 3/26/2002

Review

Neil Diamond was a Uni artist in the late '60s and early '70s, the period that coincided with his greatest commercial success and most consistently popular singles. This three-CD, 74-track set is just what it says it is: every last song from all six of his 1968-1972 Uni studio albums, plus seven cuts from his live Gold and Hot August Night records (also originally released on Uni). It shouldn't be taken as the total summary of Diamond's early career, as it's missing all of the hits for Bang Records that were recorded before he joined Uni (though the seven live songs do include versions of most of those big Bang hits). For all his talents as a major pop singer/songwriter, Diamond was really not a good album artist, and hearing six albums at once is going to test the limits of all but his devoted fans. If you do take the plunge, though, it's rather interesting to hear that Diamond was certainly a more eclectic stylist than he's usually given credit for, even if some of his odder ventures were rather lousy. There's some country, some near-gospel, and quite a few covers of other major singer/songwriters. Still, there's no getting around it: Only the hit singles (of which there are quite a few, to be fair) really reach out and grab you. Much of the rest sounds like the AM pop of the hit singles, but not nearly as good. There are some obscure above-average songs to be heard here, like the small 1968 hit "Two-Bit Manchild," the Dion-like bluesy "Dig In," and "Coldwater Morning." But these are balanced by some real turkey goofball experimentation, like the raps on "The Pot Smoker's Song," the country satire "You're So Sweet Horseflies Keep Hangin' Round Your Face," the kiddie tune "I Am the Lion" (where it almost sounds like he's trying to dilute Arthur Brown's "I am the god of hellfire!" shtick for the little ones when he sings the title!), "Crunchy Granola Suite," and the weird art-cum-mainstream pop of "African Suite." In addition, as an interpreter of other people's songs, Diamond is not too interesting, though you'll hear plenty of that on this set, including covers of "Chelsea Morning," "Both Sides Now," Randy Newman's "I Think It's Gonna Rain Today," "Until It's Time for You to Go," "Mr. Bojangles," and "Everybody's Talkin'." Not to harp too much on the absence of Bang material, but it should also be noted that the version of "Shilo" (from his 1968 album Velvet Gloves & Spit) is not the same as the one on the hit Bang 45. ~ Richie Unterberger
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  1. # Track Artist Length
  2. 1 Two-Bit Manchild Neil Diamond 3:4
  3. 2 A Modern Day Version of Love Neil Diamond 2:48
  4. 3 Honey-Drippin' Times Neil Diamond 1:58
  5. 4 The Pot Smoker's Song Neil Diamond 3:58
  6. 5 Brooklyn Roads Neil Diamond 3:37
  7. 6 Shilo Neil Diamond 2:55
  8. 7 Sunday Sun Neil Diamond 2:44
  9. 8 Holiday Inn Blues Neil Diamond 3:14
  10. 9 Practically Newborn Neil Diamond 3:27
  11. 10 Knackelflerg Neil Diamond 2:22
  12. 11 Merry-Go-Round Neil Diamond 3:29
  13. 12 Broad Old Woman (6 A.M. Insanity) Neil Diamond 4:31
  14. 13 Brother Love's Traveling Salvation Show Neil Diamond 3:26
  15. 14 Dig In Neil Diamond 2:38
  16. 15 River Runs, New Grown Plums Neil Diamond 1:58
  17. 16 Juliet Neil Diamond 2:50
  18. 17 Long Gone Neil Diamond 3:15
  19. 18 And the Grass Won't Pay No Mind Neil Diamond 3:29
  20. 19 Glory Road Neil Diamond 3:17
  21. 20 Deep in the Morning Neil Diamond 3:3
  22. 21 If I Never Knew Your Name Neil Diamond 3:15
  23. 22 Memphis Streets Neil Diamond 2:37
  24. 23 You're So Sweet Horseflies Keep Hangin' 'Round Your Face Neil Diamond 3:13
  25. 24 Hurtin' You Don't Come Easy Neil Diamond 2:28
  26. 25 Sweet Caroline Neil Diamond 3:17
  27. 26 Everybody's Talkin' Neil Diamond 2:41
  28. 1 Mr. Bojangles [Cover] Neil Diamond 4:50
  29. 2 Smokey Lady Neil Diamond 2:37
  30. 3 Holly Holy Neil Diamond 4:35
  31. 4 Both Sides Now [Cover] Neil Diamond 3:29
  32. 5 And the Singer Sings His Song Neil Diamond 3:36
  33. 6 Ain't No Way Neil Diamond 2:39
  34. 7 New York Boy Neil Diamond 2:34
  35. 8 Until It's Time for You to Go Neil Diamond 3:28
  36. 9 Cracklin' Rosie Neil Diamond 2:57
  37. 10 Free Life Neil Diamond 3:9
  38. 11 Coldwater Morning Neil Diamond 3:20
  39. 12 Done Too Soon Neil Diamond 2:40
  40. 13 He Ain't Heavy, He's My Brother Neil Diamond 4:8
  41. 14 Childsong Neil Diamond 2:10
  42. 15 I Am the Lion Neil Diamond 2:6
  43. 16 Madrigál Neil Diamond 1:50
  44. 17 Soolaimon Neil Diamond 4:26
  45. 18 Missa Neil Diamond 2:15
  46. 19 African Suite Neil Diamond 4:28
  47. 20 Childsong (Reprise) Neil Diamond 1:59
  48. 21 I Am...I Said Neil Diamond 3:31
  49. 22 The Last Thing on My Mind [Cover] Neil Diamond 3:31
  50. 23 Husbands and Wives Neil Diamond 3:43
  51. 24 Chelsea Morning Neil Diamond 2:34
  52. 1 Crunchy Granola Suite Neil Diamond 2:52
  53. 2 Stones Neil Diamond 3:0
  54. 3 If You Go Away Neil Diamond 3:49
  55. 4 Suzanne Neil Diamond 4:39
  56. 5 I Think It's Going to Rain Today Neil Diamond 2:33
  57. 6 I Am...I Said (Reprise) Neil Diamond 2:37
  58. 7 Song Sung Blue Neil Diamond 3:15
  59. 8 Porcupine Pie Neil Diamond 2:3
  60. 9 High Rolling Man Neil Diamond 2:34
  61. 10 Canta Libre Neil Diamond 4:46
  62. 11 Captain Sunshine Neil Diamond 3:20
  63. 12 Play Me Neil Diamond 3:51
  64. 13 Gitchy Goomy Neil Diamond 3:51
  65. 14 Walk on Water Neil Diamond 3:4
  66. 15 Theme Neil Diamond 1:38
  67. 16 Prelude in E Major Neil Diamond 0:40
  68. 17 Morningside Neil Diamond 4:12
  69. 18 Lordy Neil Diamond 4:56
  70. 19 Kentucky Woman Neil Diamond 2:41
  71. 20 Thank the Lord for the Night Time Neil Diamond 3:10
  72. 21 Solitary Man Neil Diamond 3:15
  73. 22 Cherry, Cherry [Single Version] Neil Diamond 3:49
  74. 23 Red, Red Wine Neil Diamond 3:45
  75. 24 Girl, You'll Be a Woman Soon Neil Diamond 2:49

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