Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Neil Diamond's 'Hot August Night' tour and deluxe CD reissue

Neil Diamond is currently in the midst of a five-night, sold out stand at the Greek Theatre in Los Angeles - the site of his celebrated live 2LP set, Hot August Night.

That recording took place on Aug. 24, 1972 and was among 10 sold out shows at the landmark outdoor venue. 

To mark the occasion, Geffen/Universal Music Enterprises just put out a fine newly  re-mastered 40th Anniversary Deluxe Edition with three previously unreleased songs, all his stage banter and band introductions, plus additional photos.  

The unreleased material comprises his 1968 ballad "A Modern Day Version Of Love," the plaintive Randy Newman-penned "I Think It’s Going To Rain Today" and jaunty acoustic "Gitchy Goomy" (from 1972's Moods), introduced as a philosophy lesson for children. 

Even if you already own the 2000 remaster or other versions, I'd still recommend buying this one, just to have the entire concert in unedited form. You get to hear Diamond's often humorous asides (including how he used to wear sunglasses onstage and threw a pair out to fans because it was cool). He calls The Greek a place God made for performers because it is paradise and gives a shout out to the "tree people" who snuck in the back way to get a glimpse of the concert.   

A more recent tour photo
At the time, Diamond was a 31-year-old singer/songwriter at the height of his powers and during several points in this show, he displays gritty, roaring vocals. It especially comes across amid the opening orchestrated "Crunchy Granola Suite" and closing, gospel-inspired encore "Soolaimon/Brother Love’s Travelling Salvation Show."

Some of the late 1960s/early '70s lyrics may seem hokey today, but there are plenty of hits and well-known album tracks here: the strident "Solitary Man" and "Cracklin’ Rosie," exhilarating "Cherry Cherry," a transcendent "Sweet Caroline," quietly affecting "Red Red Wine," "Song Sung Blue" and "Shilo," the gradual buildup of "Holly Holy" and contemplative "I Am…I Said."

Upon its original U.S. release in December 1972, Hot August Night went top 5 on the Billboard Albums chart and was certified double platinum. Diamond would later release live sequels Love at The Greek (1977), Hot August Night II (1987), Hot August Night/NYC (2009).  

Remaining Greek Theatre shows in LA are 8 p.m. Aug. 23 & Aug. 25. 

Other tour dates:

Aug. 27 Sacramento, CA...Power Balance Pavilion
Aug. 29 Phoenix, AZ...US Airways Center
Sept. 1 Las Vegas, NV...MGM Grand Garden Arena

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