Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Neil Diamond

  • Hot August Night [MCA, 1972] D+
  • Beautiful Noise [Columbia, 1976] C+

Consumer Guide Reviews:

Hot August Night [MCA, 1972]
From the first guitar riff of this profit-taking double live showcase, it's obvious that the man is some sort of genius rock entertainer, but for the most part the great entertainer is striving for bad art and not even achieving it. The humor here is almost as sententious as the phony canta libre and the country-western parodies might get a poorer, drunker man lynched. D+

Beautiful Noise [Columbia, 1976]
This is a monstrous record. The "rock" star who broke the Broadway barrier seems to be thinking Big Musical, in the urban sentimental mode (complete with Evil, of course) that does such small justice to the challenge of New York. Although fellow urban sentimentalist Robbie Robertson can achieve an awesome (almost fulsome) fullness with rock instrumentation, his production is basically pop program music. Yet somewhere in my cockles I found Diamond hooking me as I listened for the last time and I had to admit that it takes a special kind of chutzpah to create a monster. C+