Neil Diamond

Neil Diamond Collection

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Although not as comprehensive an anthology of Neil Diamond's eight-album, four-year affiliation with MCA as 1992's 38-track double Glory Road, The Neil Diamond Collection is a definitive single-disc recap of one of his extensive career's most influential periods. It's a beautifully remastered, non-chronologically arranged 67 minutes of studio highlights from Diamond's most ambitious, if not his most commercially successful years. Only his version of "He Ain't Heavy, He's My Brother," the disc's lone cover, is a questionable choice, but since it charted at number 20 in 1970, its inclusion is justified. Otherwise, this non-stop, hit-filled collection shifts from one radio standard to another, easily replacing the existing and rather anemic 12 Greatest Hits with its sound quality, depth and breadth. Dramatic, classic mini pop-operas like "Brother Love's Traveling Salvation Show," "Cracklin' Rosie," and "Holly Holy" are as much a part of the late-'60s singer/songwriter rubric as work from the era's more feted artists. The thoughtfully compiled 16-page booklet includes detailed track documentation, an extensive essay, and some rare pictures of the young artist, making this the essential single-disc representation of Neil Diamond's short, yet significant, MCA tenure. ~ Hal Horowitz, Rovi