On the Way to the Sky

Neil Diamond

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On the Way to the Sky Review

by Greg Adams

Neil Diamond, in the opinion of many critics and fans, went into an artistic decline in the mid- to late- '70s. It turns out that he still had a number of good songs left in him, though, and the inconsistency of his later efforts should be viewed in context. That is to say, even Diamond's most respected albums had their share of oddball experiments and misguided moments, and the argument could be made that those peculiar detours make him a more interesting songwriter overall. On the Way to the Sky is typically uneven with a handful of strong songs that were big adult contemporary hits: "Yesterday's Songs," "On the Way to the Sky," and "Be Mine Tonight." The character of these songs is no different from his earlier adult pop efforts, but the production may be too slick for many listeners' tastes. Throughout the album Diamond revisits some of his favorite themes -- rambling, traveling minstrelsy, the transcendent power of music -- which he sings about in his dramatic, gravelly style. Dedicated fans will find much to like, but those who take a more conditional approach to Diamond's music will be put off by the ultra-commercial sheen. The album even has its own "Knackelflerg" with the unusual "Fear of the Marketplace."

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