Neil Diamond

Gold [Geffen]

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Neil Diamond 's Gold is the kind of release that makes you wonder exactly who it is aimed at and -- more importantly for the label -- who will buy it. Too long to be the kind of quick overview of his years (1968-1972) with MCA that casual fans would want (and which already exists in 1999's The Neil Diamond Collection), it is also bereft of anything collectors would need. They are likely to have the excellent Play Me: The Complete Uni Studio Recordings...Plus, which has all the songs here but also many more worthy tunes as well. (They might also already have the fine Glory Road: 1968 to 1972 set, which covers the same ground and has a very similar track listing.) In fact, one has to wonder how the selections for Gold were made, because along with all the hits there is a seemingly random sampling of Diamond's album tracks. One could easily argue that Diamond-composed album tracks like "Sunday Sun," "Practically Newborn," and "Deep in the Morning" are of more interest than his somewhat perfunctory covers of "Mr. Bojangles," "Both Sides Now," and "The Last Thing On My Mind." That is the kind of argument that could easily be settled by ponying up a few extra bucks and getting The Complete Uni Studio Recordings, though. If you are interested enough in this phase of Diamond's career to think about picking up Gold, you might as well pop for Play Me instead, because Gold leaves off some of his most interesting and fun work.

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