By Gregg Shapiro
A long time in the making, more than 50 years in fact, the six CD career-spanning compilation Neil Diamond: 50th Anniversary Collector’s Edition (Capitol/UMe), collects 115 songs from the cherished singer/songwriter’s legendary output. Representing music from Neil Diamond’s various label affiliations (Bang!, MCA, Columbia and Capitol), as well as his celebrated ventures into pop, rock, country, and let’s be honest, schmaltz, this set has almost every gem his acolytes require. Early recordings including “I’m A Believer” and “Red, Red Wine”, as well as a later selection such as “You Don’t Bring Me Flowers”, are reminders that Diamond was the kind of songwriter that other artists (The Monkees, UB40 and Barbra Streisand, respectively) felt comfortable covering. Of course, it was Diamond’s shimmering renditions of his own songs, from the `60s (“Solitary Man”, “Shiloh”, “Holly Holy”, “Sweet Caroline”), `70s (“Cracklin’ Rosie”, “I Am…I Said”, “Song Sung Blue”, “Longfellow Serenade”, “Beautiful Noise”, “Forever In Blue Jeans”) and `80s (“America”, “Love on the Rocks”, “Hello Again”, “Heartlight”) and beyond, that established him as one of the most revered performers of his generation. The sixth disc of a dozen previously unreleased recordings makes this package even more appealing.
Years before Lindsey Buckingham joined (and was later fired from) Fleetwood Mac, he and Stevie Nicks (then a couple) recorded an album together as Buckingham Nicks. Long out of print, the LP is not only a good indication of why the pair were a necessary addition to the Mac, but also that Buckingham was a talented man. In 1981, Buckingham was one of three FM members (along with Nicks and Mick Fleetwood) to release a solo album. That record, Law and Order contained the hit single “Trouble”, while also showcasing Buckingham’s adventurous and experimental side. “Trouble” is one of 39 studio recordings to be found on the triple disc Solo Anthology (Rhino). Buckingham’s six solo recordings, as well as his 2017 teaming with Christine McVie, are well-represented, as well as movie soundtrack contributions such as “Holiday Road” (from National Lampoon’s Vacation) and “Time Bomb Town” (from Back to the Future). The addition of the previously unreleased tracks “Hunger” and “Ride This Road”, as well as a third disc of 13 live recordings, qualify this compilation as a must.
In the early 1990s, The Posies did an excellent job of proving that there was more to the Pacific Northwest sound than grunge. That was true from the quartet’s early days (listen to 1988’s Failure) as well as on the 1993 breakthrough album Frosting on the Beater (Omnivore), newly reissued in an expanded double-disc 25th anniversary edition. More closely linked to other power-pop revivalists such as Teenage Fanclub and Matthew Sweet, The Posies, led by Jon Auer and Ken Stringfellow, may have turned the amplifiers up a bit on Frosting on the Beater, but they didn’t sacrifice their power-pop chops in the process. That came through loud and clear on timeless album opener “Dream All Day”, from the first disc which features the original album (including “Solar Sister”, “Flavor of the Month”, “Coming Right Along”, to name a few), as well as nine bonus tracks. The second disc features 21 more bonus tracks. It’s also interesting to note thatDear 23, The Posies’ first album for the Geffen/DGC label was released in August 1990, predating Nirvana’s September 1991 Geffen/DGC debut by more than a year.
Clear across the spectrum Glen Campbell’s Sings for the King (UMe) consists of 17 studio demos of songs written by Ben Weisman and Sid Wayne intended for Elvis Presley and performed by Campbell. Campbell, who died in 2017, was a good choice as he and Presley’s voices are complementary. This is verifiable on “We Call On Him”, the album-opening “duet”, as well as the remaining tunes, including “Clambake” and “Spinout”, which can be heard on a variety of Presley albums.