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I have been aware of Neil Diamond’s song writing abilities and exceptional stage presence and performances from the 1960’s onwards, from when the likes of the Monkees had their hit with ND’s “I’m a Believer”. Just to ‘locate’ how I rate, and what and where I am coming from, I would simply say that the original “Hot August Night” album, simply said, is one of the best Live albums of all time for any artist or band, no matter what musical genre!
Back in June of 2019 I purchased a copy of September Morn from a Charity Shop (popular in the UK) for £ 1 (@ 1.3 USD) and I have just got round to playing it this evening. To be honest (which is the best policy anyway) I was not particularly impressed with much of the album, particularly ND’s cover versions. However, from initially thinking the album was trying to satisfy too-broad a general pop purchasing audience the album, and the original material began to grow on me and I listened-up a great deal more than my frist playing Tracks such as “The Good Lord Loves You”, for example, was a little light-weight, and, in-itself, I initially thought was simply aimed at a ‘Happy-Clappy’ Christian audience, Wrong !!!
I have listened on Repeat-Play, something I very rarely do, anyway, and I cannot believe that I have reached the age of 65 and not even heard much of the material on this album, as I say, other than the Hit, cover-versions, and the title track. Simply put, I started to list my Stand Out Tracks and I started with Tr 1, (tittle track) as you may expect, then added Tr 2 (Mama Don’t Know), Tr 3 (That Kind). After several plays of the CD it was very clear that The Good Lord Loves You and The Shelter of Your Arms are truly exceptional, and the delivery of this material are, very reminiscent of the similarly exceptional standards ND achieved with the land-mark album Hot August Night itself, released back in December of 1972.
Yes, I do realise both of these songs were not written by ND himself – but what I think that song-maestro, that is Neil Diamond brings to this material is exceptional know-how of delivery, and presence, even in the recorded medium that is not Live performance. Having now listened to The Shelter of Your Arms with tears in my eyes, for what is now at least the eighth or ninth time now, I can clearly see that this is material I would consider, and, like to be remembered by, and reflected upon during my final days on earth – see below for more of this theme.
Finally to add, I first rated the album September Morn on this web-page as Four-Star, something I have now amended to 5*, even given the cover-versions of other people’s Hit’s – so highly do I rate what I have been listening to now, for I am not quite sure, how long! And yes, I do know the album received a mixed reception from ND Fans and Music Review Critics alike – but certainly, as far as I am concerned, this is an album I had severly and sadly missed-out on, up until this evening that is !!!
It would be really good if anyone could recommend other early Neil Diamond albums that are a must to hear, as, like this album, September Morn – may also have completely escaped me ….
Just to say, my Epitaph should read:
“I am”… I said
To no one there
And no one heard .. at all
Not even the chair