Archive for Neil Diamond

WTF: More Crazy Covers

Posted in Lost Classics! with tags , , , , , , , , on July 29, 2012 by 30daysout

Francoise Hardy

For the sake of an attention-grabbing headline, we call these “crazy covers” and for the most part they’re not crazy at all.

Back in the day it was fairly common practice for even the biggest artists to do covers, because they were cheap and easy to license. And besides – when the songwriters of the day were Lennon-McCartney, Jagger-Richards, Ray Davies and this cat named Dylan, why not toss in a cover?

So here we have a handful of cover versions, mainly of tunes from the 1960s when the giants listed above still ruled the world. Each cover version sheds a new light on each song, in their own initimable way.

A few of these are kind of sneaky: Clarence Clemons is of course “covering” a song he originally played on as part of the E Street Band. Neil Diamond and Carole King are here “covering” songs that they actually wrote, but were made famous by others.

MP3: “Who’ll Be The Next In Line” by Francoise Hardy (covering The Kinks)

MP3: “If You Gotta Go, Go Now” by Mae West (covering Bob Dylan)

MP3: “Save The Last Dance For Me” by Ike & Tina Turner (covering The Drifters)

MP3: “It’s All Too Much” by My Darling Clementine (covering The Beatles)

MP3: “Cracklin’ Rosie” by Shane McGowan & The Popes (covering Neil Diamond)

MP3: “Love Minus Zero/No Limit” by Buck Owens (covering Bob Dylan)

MP3: “The Rains Came” by the Sir Douglas Quintet (covering Big Sambo)

MP3: “Foxey Lady” by Cee Lo Green (covering Jimi Hendrix)

MP3: “Woodstock” by America (covering Joni Mitchell)

MP3: “I’m A Believer” by Neil Diamond (covering The Monkees)

MP3: “I Can’t Turn You Loose” by Edgar Winter’s White Trash (covering Otis Redding)

MP3: “Jumpin’ Jack Flash” by Alex Chilton (covering The Rolling Stones)

MP3: “Small Things” by Clarence Clemons (covering Bruce Springsteen)

MP3: “I’m Into Something Good” by Brian Wilson and Carole King (covering Herman’s Hermits)

Happy Holidays from 30 Days Out: Peace On Earth

Posted in 30 Days Out (From Christmas) with tags , , , , , , , , , , on December 23, 2011 by 30daysout

christmas-around-world12

REPOST from 2008 (with slight updating): – I remember when the Apollo 8 astronauts went into space, right before Christmas in 1968. That was a rough year – Martin Luther King and Robert F. Kennedy were shot, Vietnam was a bloody stain on the other side of the world. Violence boiled over into the streets. As Christmas week opened, three men in a little metal capsule hurtled through space toward the moon.

The astronauts of Apollo 8 were the first humans earth-riseto reach the orbit of another planetary body. As they streaked across the dark side of the moon on Christmas Eve, they turned on their TV camera. A live audience of millions heard the astronauts read from the Book of Genesis while we saw our bright blue planet rise gracefully above the lunar surface. We looked so fragile, so small – how can we not find a way to live together?

Today we have family and friends in the military, fighting wars on the other side of the world. In nearly every corner of the world, there are people who dream of making war.  In our own country, mistrust and prejudice are alive and well. As we face a new year and new challenges, perhaps we can look at ourselves once again and learn a small lesson from the past.

So on Christmas day, this day of hope and promise, we leave you with Apollo 8 astronaut Frank Borman’s signoff from that night 40 years ago:  “Good night, good luck, and a Merry Christmas to all of you – all of you on the good Earth.”

MP3: “Jingle Bells” by Celia Cruz (con la Sonora Matancera)

MP3: “Navidad” by the Gipsy Kings

MP3: “Jingle Bell Rock” by the Ventures

MP3: “On Christmas Day” by Brian Wilson

MP3: “Natal” by Cesaria Evora

MP3: “Boas Festas” by Gilberto Gil and Caetano Veloso with Eliane Elias

MP3: “The Chanukkah Song” by Neil Diamond

MP3: “In The Quiet Of Christmas Morning” by the Moody Blues

MP3: “Santa Claus Is Comin’ To Town” by the Crystals

MP3: “Let’s Make Christmas Mean Something This Year” (Parts 1 and 2) by James Brown

MP3: “Mambo Santa Mambo” by the Enchanters

MP3: “The Rebel Jesus” by the Chieftains with Jackson Browne

MP3: “Fairytale Of New York” by the Pogues with Kirsty MacColl

MP3:  “We Wish You A Merry Christmas” by the Weavers

MP3: “Happy Xmas (War Is Over)” (demo) by John Lennon

 

Free holiday downloads!

Free holiday downloads, courtesy of Paste magazine

More free holiday downloads at Amazon.com

Free holiday downloads from the Houston music scene, courtesy of the Houston Press

Best of 2011 free downloads from SPIN magazine

Review: “The Very Best of Neil Diamond,” by Neil Diamond

Posted in Review with tags , , , , , , on December 8, 2011 by 30daysout

The Very Best of Neil DiamondNeil Diamond: CD Cover

This greatest hits collection is Neil Diamond’s 37th since bursting onto the scene in 1966. You heard me, 37th. How many times can you release “Sweet Caroline?” Apparently, at least 37 times. So this begs the question…do we really need The Very Best of Neil Diamond? The answer is a definitive yes!

I remember back in 1992 buying “The Greatest Hits: 1966-1992” and being extremely disappointed because it included awful live versions done in the 80s and early 90s including a version of “Red Red Wine” where Diamond actually says “UB40 We’re Number One.” Dreadful. This remastered collection sounds terrific and is the first to include the original recordings of tunes like “I Am I Said,” “Forever In Blue Jeans,” “America,” “Brother Love’s Traveling Salvation Show” and mono versions of “Solitary Man,” “I’m A Believer” (yes, he wrote that one), “Shilo,” “Kentucky Woman,” “Cherry Cherry,” and “Girl, You’ll Be A Woman Soon” just to mention a few. As Diamond told “The Today Show,” it’s the first time in his career that all of his record companies joined forces and put together one collection of original recordings. Bravo!!

Whether you think Neil Diamond is a music icon or the king of schmaltz, one things is for sure, he is one of the great pop songwriters of the rock era and The Very Best of Neil Diamond proves that with every track.

Neil Diamond Official Website

“Brother Love’s Traveling Salvation Show” (Live on “The Johnny Cash Show”) by Neil Diamond

“I’m A Believer” by Neil Diamond

“Kentucky Woman” by Neil Diamond

More Rockin’ Christmas!

Posted in Christmas with tags , , , , , , , on December 8, 2011 by 30daysout

Yeah, that's Nancy Reagan. No, this is not Photoshopped.

Editor’s Note: More recycling of past blog posts, gotta conserve this Christmas!

How many shopping days left until Christmas?  Not enough, that’s for sure.  The holiday season isn’t about shopping anyway, it’s about hanging around with people you like and, in the case of most of our families, a few people you don’t like.  It’s about giving but it isn’t about begging.  And it’s not about the TV commentators who are so afraid white Jesus isn’t represented enough in Christmas celebrations.

Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa – they’re what you want to make it.  Celebrate ’em like you want, be nice and leave everyone else alone.  Enough speeches, now let’s rock.

MP3: “Soulful Christmas” by James Brown

MP3: “Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)” by R.E.M.

MP3: “Teenage Christmas” by Eux Autres

MP3: “Toy Jackpot” by Blackalicious

MP3: “Ain’t No Chimneys In The Projects” by Sharon Jones & the Dap Kings

MP3: “Seasons Greetings Message” by Alice Cooper

MP3: “Jingle Bell Rock” by Neil Diamond

MP3: “Run Rudolph Run” by Creedence Clearwater Revisited

MP3: “Deck The Halls” by Canned Heat

MP3: “Winter Wonderland” by Liz Phair

MP3: “Christmas Lullaby” by Shane MacGowan & the Popes

MP3: “Christmas Island” by the Vatican Cellars

MP3: “Santa Claus Files Unusual Flight Plan” by the North American Air Defense Command (NORAD)

MP3: “Messed Up Xmas” by the Dollyrots

MP3: “Father Christmas” by the Kinks

This is just wrong. Happy Holidays!

Super Bowl Halftimes That Will Never Happen

Posted in Rock Rant with tags , , , , , , , , , on January 26, 2011 by 30daysout

Remember this? From Super Bowl XXXVIII (2004)

The big Super Bowl game is coming up, this year it’s in the new Cowboys Stadium up in Arlington, and it got me to thinking about the halftime.  Now these things pretty much exist only to please advertisers and, I suppose, people in the stadium.  For us millions of TV viewers the Super Bowl halftimes are usually a losing proposition.

A wardrobe malfunction might be welcome during this year's show with the Black Eyed Peas

We had a Super Bowl in Houston, back in 2004, and the MTV-produced halftime at that event included performances by Britney Spears, Kid Rock, Nelly, P. Diddy and of course, Justin Timberlake and Janet Jackson.  So after that holocaust they’ve had more mainstream rock acts – Paul McCartney, Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers, the Rolling Stones, Prince, Bruce Springsteen, the Who – who were not really as exciting as they are in a regular two-hour concert.  The halftime performers in Dallas this year will be the Black Eyed Peas, so maybe they want to get the demographic a little younger again.  You watch: one of these years it’s going to be “American Idol” winners/runners up and the cast from “Glee,” and it will be very popular – and truly deadly.

Anyhow, we were thinking about some acts that we’d like to play the Super Bowl halftime, if only because they would never be asked to do this in real life.  Think of this as our Fantasy Super Bowl Halftime Act list, like your weird still-single uncle’s Fantasy Football Team.  We helpfully included some stats and a small dose of reality, as explanation why this could never happen.

KISS – The hard rockin’ kabuki-faced quartet is known around the world, they like to “party” and they are rich enough to be their own sponsors.  What’s not to like about Gene Simmons, Paul Stanley and co.?  Although you certainly can’t tell with all that makeup, Simmons and Stanley are certainly old enough to qualify as Senior Classic Rockers.  And another plus: they bring their own pyro!

Rookie season: 1973     Recent triumph: Sonic Boom, which went to No. 2 in 2009

Playlist: “Strutter”/”Detroit Rock City”/”Calling Dr. Love”/”Beth”/”Rock and Roll All Nite”

Why they’ll never play halftime: Actually, I bet they will in the next few years. (Editor’s note: KISS did perform during opening ceremonies for Super Bowl XXXIII, in Miami in 1999.)

Neil Diamond – Newly accepted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame after years of being ignored, Neil certainly has a flashy enough stage show to play the Super Bowl.  He rocked the pop charts in the late 1960s-early 1970s, he’s successfully played Vegas and in recent years he has made a bit of a comeback with some mellow new material.  He would get the Grannies rockin’ during halftime; keep a defibrillator handy!

Rookie season: 1962     Recent triumph: Hot August Night/NYC in multiple formats, available at a Wal-Mart near you!

Playlist: “I’m A Believer”/”Solitary Man”/”I Am … I Said”/”Play Me”/”Cracklin’ Rosie”

Why Neil will never play halftime: “Dad, who’s that old guy?”  “What’s wrong with his hair?” “Hey, Grandma’s breathing heavy!” “Call an ambulance!” (The last one could be used in the stadium as well.)

Willie Nelson/Bob Dylan: Personally, I’d love to see this one.  What a package deal – Willie could come up and sing some reggae songs about smoking weed, then he could bring Dylan up to mumble one or two of his classics in a strange rhythm that would require subtitles for the TV audience.  Nelson can – and does – play with everyone, and Dylan has been touring continuously since about 1969.

Rookie season: Nelson – 1960; Dylan – 1961    Recent triumph: Nelson – Country Music (2010); Dylan – Christmas In The Heart (2009)

Playlist:  Nelson – “On The Road Again”/”Crazy”/”Funny How Time Slips Away”  Dylan – (Unintelligible)/(Unintelligible)/(Unintelligible)

Why they will never play halftime: Their combined ages total up to 146 years.  After the performance you’d have to wake everyone up, including the stadium audience and football players.

Vodpod videos no longer available.

The Stooges – The punk rock godfathers, still going strong in their sixth decade, have enough energy to power through a rockin’ two-hour show so they’d be great for a Super Bowl halftime.  Guitarist Ron Asheton could bring the thunder, but he died in 2009; current guitarist James Williamson (from the Raw Power era) is flashy and almost as good.  They could be sponsored by Cialis and Geritol and the network won’t have to worry about a wardrobe malfunction on lead singer Iggy Pop – he never wears a shirt anyway.

Rookie season: 1967   Recent triumph: Induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame

Playlist: “Search and Destroy”/”No Fun”/”TV Eye”/”I Wanna Be Your Dog”

Why they will never play halftime: “My d**k is turning into a tree” (lyrics from “Trollin'”)

Vodpod videos no longer available.

Ozzy Osbourne: What red-blooded rock and roller would not welcome a Super Bowl halftime appearance by the Prince of F***ing Darkness?  Currently on a U.S. tour, Ozzy is rocking audiences with Black Sabbath classics and his choice solo gems.  Booking Ozzy could be the ultimate act of heresy, as it may encourage millions of youngsters to worship something besides wholesome professional sports, shameless corporate pandering and the single-minded pursuit of money.

Rookie season: 1969   Recent triumph: Scream, and his 2011 tour to support that album

Playlist: “Mr. Crowley”/”Iron Man”/”Let Me Hear You Scream”/”Crazy Train”/”Paranoid”

Why he will never play halftime: He’s the Prince of F***ing Darkness

Diamond Under The Christmas Tree

Posted in Rock Classics! with tags on December 1, 2009 by 30daysout

We begin the holiday season by checking in with one of our favorite artists, Neil Diamond.  Neil has a new Christmas record out, which is pretty good considering he’s Jewish (actually he’s the “Jewish Elvis“).  The album, A Cherry Cherry Christmas, is pretty much like every other superstar holiday offering with his versions of the usual warhorses and a couple of weird ringers (Adam Sandler’s “The Chanukah Song? “Amazing Grace” ???).  Whatever – we love Neil Diamond.

But our favorite song on the new Neil Christmas album is the title song, where he uses his own song titles in the lyrics.  Here are some of the lyrics:

Wish you a very merry, cherry cherry Christmas
And a holly holy holiday, too.
Underneath your tree may there always be
Sounds of harmony, not a song sung blue.

You can hear “A Cherry Cherry Christmas” on Neil Diamond’s MySpace page.  Just go ahead and listen to the entire song.  We’ll wait.

"Borrowed" from Neil Diamond's Twitter page

OK, we don’t think he went far enough.  This could have been a 15-minute epic, with titles of even more Neil Diamond songs.  A catalog the size of Neil Diamond’s is like Santa’s workshop for songwriters – there is so much more here.  We put our resident songwriter George to work, writing a handful of new verses with even more Neil Diamond Song Title Goodness.  Not that Neil needs help from the likes of us.

So pour a little brandy, poke the fireplace coals and wiggle closer to your favorite snuggle partner: here are the discarded pages of Neil’s “A Cherry Cherry Christmas” lyric book, as envisioned by us.  We went ahead and placed the song titles in bold, for those of you who are totally out of it.

I don’t want to be a solitary man this Christmas
Darling if you know what I mean.
Our love is on the rocks, but I bought you this Christmas box
Full of Crunchy Granola Suite.

Hello again, my dear, hello
It’s Santa calling to let you know
My heartlight is bright, on these Brooklyn roads tonight
Thank God for snow and not a hot August night.

He ain’t heavy, he’s my brother
I knew him a long time ago.
I am, I said, he cried, before he left for a ride
On Brother Love’s Traveling Salvation Show.

I always thank the Lord for the night time
In America, land of the free
Shilo, my dear, this Christmas let me be
Girl, you’ll be a woman soon.

When I eat my porcupine pie this Christmas
I’ll wash it down with some red, red wine.
Play me some beautiful noise and I will sing along
For my one and only … Soolaimon.

Neil Diamond official website

Neil Diamond’s Twitter page

Ellie Greenwich, R.I.P.

Posted in News with tags , , , , , on August 27, 2009 by 30daysout

Ellie Greenwich, one of the greatest pop songwriters of the 1960s, has died at the age of 68.  She is responsible for co-writing (with her partner/husband Jeff Barry) songs like “Be My Baby” for the Ronettes, “Da Doo Ron Ron” and “Then He Kissed Me” for the Crystals, and “Chapel of Love” for the Dixie Cups.  She was also one of the rock era’s first female producers, helping to shape Neil Diamond‘s first songs as a performer including “Cherry Cherry” and “Solitary Man.”  A true giant in the music field.

Los Angeles Times obituary on Ellie Greenwich

MP3: “Be My Baby” by the Ronettes

MP3: “Then He Kissed Me” by the Crystals

MP3: “Leader Of The Pack” by the Shangri-Las

MP3: “Do Wah Diddy” by Manfred Mann

Ellie Greenwich official website

YouTube: The Crystals, “Da Doo Ron Ron”


It’s (more than) time to enshrine Neil Diamond!

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , on April 19, 2009 by 30daysout

diamond3

Dusty Springfield, Del Shannon, Brenda Lee, Ritchie Valens, The Ronettes, the Dave Clark Five, The Dells and The Shirelles. These are just a few of the artists in the Rock and Roll of Fame while the great Neil Diamond stands outside the gates waiting to get in. Are you kidding me? How is it that I even have to write this blogpost?

Diamond is one of the most successful singer-songwriters in music history. He’s only sold nearly 160 million albums worldwide, and has penned some of the world’s most popular songs.

Continue reading

30 Days Out (From Christmas) – A Jewish Christmas

Posted in Christmas with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on December 11, 2008 by 30daysout

menorah

Day 14 – As we all know those of the Jewish faith don’t celebrate Christmas, but instead Hannukah, or the Festival of Lights, an eight-day holiday commemorating the rededication of the Second Temple in Jerusalem at the time of the Maccabean Revolt of the 2nd Century BCE. It starts on the 25th Day of the Kislev according to the Hebrew Calendar.

The lack of a Christmas tree, Santa Claus, and everything else that goes along with Christmas hasn’t stopped some of the biggest stars from recording holiday tunes. Neil Diamond, Barbara Streisand, Simon and Garfunkel, Barry Manilow, Mitch Miller and the great Herb Alpert just to name a few have all laid down Christmas tracks. Kenny G sold millions of Christmas albums, and two of the most popular yuletide songs in history, “White Christmas” and “The Christmas Song (Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire),” were written by Irving Berlin and Mel Torme, respectively. Both happened to be Jewish.

MP3: “O Little Town of Bethlehem” – Neil Diamond

MP3: “Ave Maria” – Barbara Streisand

MP3: “Because It’s Christmas” – Barry Manilow

MP3: “The Twelve Days of Christmas” – Mitch Miller and the Gang

MP3: “River” – Robert Downey Jr.

Mp3: “The Bell That Couldn’t Jingle” – Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass

MP3: “The 7 O’Clock News/Silent Night” – Simon and Garfunkel

Mp3: “White Christmas” – Kenny G

Mp3 – “The Christmas Song” – Mel Torme

Church

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on August 17, 2008 by 30daysout

A while back I had a freelance assignment to photograph George Foreman at his church in Houston.  As it was easier to get him after Sunday morning services, I settled in and absorbed a sermon from this fascinating figure.  Even though he opened a Bible and occasionally made reference to the Scripture, George talked about all sorts of things one wouldn’t normally consider church stuff.

“Don’t ever tell anyone how much money you make,” he said at one point.  “They can take advantage of you.”  Another time he said, “Always listen to your Momma.”  Very little talk of Jesus, and sin – and a lot of plain old good common sense. 

That’s what I get too, from the church of rock and roll.  When blues and rock artists turn their attention to the spiritual, it’s often more honest and illuminating than a month worth of Sundays in a church building.  And the work of the great black gospel artists is just as good.  Not only did they sincerely express their faith in an entertaining way, the earlier music contained elements of blues and R&B as well as the DNA of true rock and roll.  As George Foreman would say, “Just listen; the music of God is all around you.”

Amen, brother.  Let’s go to church.

MP3: “Didn’t It Rain” by the Blind Boys Of Alabama

MP3: “John The Revelator” by Son House

MP3: “I Talk To Jesus Every Day” by Johnny Cash

MP3: “Gotta Serve Somebody” by Mavis Staples

MP3: “Man Of God” by Neil Diamond

MP3: “Jesus Christ Is Still The King” by Billy Joe Shaver

MP3: “Dragnet For Jesus” by Sister Wynona Carr

MP3: “How Great Thou Art” by Elvis Presley

MP3: “Jesus Is Coming Soon” by the Dixie Hummingbirds

MP3: “Jesus Christ” by U2

MP3: “Farther Along” by the Byrds

MP3: “Southern Comfort” by Terry Allen