Neil Diamond

Stages: Performances 1970-2002

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Stages: Performances 1970-2002 is one of the most cynical box set projects ever issued. While producers Neil Diamond and Sam Cole don't exactly offer untruth in their presentation of this five-CD live retrospective, they might as well have. For starters, this entire project seems like an excuse to issue a new double-CD live album from Vegas in December of 2002, and a live Christmas album (like anyone ever needed that to happen). The other two discs in this set are a compilation of live tracks, from "Lordy" in 1970 (easily the best thing here) to a cloying "I Believe in Happy Endings," from New Year's Eve 2001. The majority of the cuts from these discs come from Diamond's '80s and '90s shows and do not showcase him at his best. The bottom line: his Beatles' covers are losers -- why not do more of the many hundreds of songs he's written? Perhaps the fact that neither the 2002 live Vegas gig nor the live Christmas album are good enough to stand on their own in the marketplace was a motivating factor. One has to wonder why he didn't just release his double live and live Christmas projects without all of this bombast, extra production, and extra cost for his real fans, the only people who would be willing to even consider this. This is a job shoddily and, yes, very cynically done. Where Hot August Night and Hot August Night 2 were real occasions to celebrate Diamond's mind-blowing live potential, Stages is really just a marketing ploy to get fans, the people who should be rewarded, to shell out more of their hard-earned dollars for considerably less aesthetically.

Track Listing - Disc 4

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time Stream
1 4:24 Amazon
2 1:44 Amazon
3 2:08 Amazon
4 1:55 Amazon
5 2:01 Amazon
6 3:41 Amazon
7 3:56 Amazon
8 4:04 Amazon
9 4:04 Amazon
10 3:25 Amazon
11 4:39 Amazon
12 2:54 Amazon
13 3:51 Amazon
14 2:54 Amazon
15 3:55 Amazon
16 4:20 Amazon
17 5:08 Amazon
18 2:14 Amazon
19 4:39 Amazon
20 4:11 Amazon
21 4:37 Amazon
blue highlight denotes track pick