Neil Diamond

The Ultimate Collection [Universal/Island]

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This budget-priced European collection relies heavily on Neil Diamond's super-prolific late-'60s/early-'70s period, when he produced the bulk of his best-loved songs. That means that listeners don't have to suffer through songs like "Heartlight" and "Headed for the Future," or even anything from The Jazz Singer for that matter. "Sweet Caroline," "I Am...I Said," "Brother Love's Traveling Salvation Show," "Holly Holy," "Cracklin' Rosie," and "Song Sung Blue" are all bona fide Diamond classics, but it's the inclusion of offbeat gems like "Soolaimon," "Brooklyn Roads," and "Stones" that makes this Ultimate Collection one of best single-disc overviews out there. Buy this for someone who unequivocally hates the man, and then check back in a week.

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