Leo Diamond

Skin Diver Suite and Other Selections

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Virtuosos of instruments such as the harmonica, kazoo, and accordion usually display their chops by riding such workhorses as "Sabre Dance" and "Hawaiian War Chant" as if they were thoroughbreds. Skin Diver Suite is a most unusual album even by standard orchestral standards. That this album is the conception and showcase of a harmonica player is extraordinary. Then again, the parts are familiar. A side is devoted to the theme, and the jacket features a half-nude "mermaid." "The Skin Divers" is a jaunty piece, moving quickly from snorkeling to scuba to encounters with sea creatures. In case the orchestra and harmonica fail to convince, there are plenty of sound effects and notable gurgling water sounds. At times it could just as well be the soundtrack of a synchronized-swimming, space-romance, or sword-and-sandal flick. But one has to admire the chutzpah of Leo Diamond and his RCA producer. Tacky, schmaltzy, and cheesy though it be, Skin Diver Suite is the quintessential harmonica opus. The six short tracks are filler, of course, but it's all part of Diamond's happy-go-lucky, blues-free excursion.

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