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12 Songs

4.3 out of 5 stars 112 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

One of the year's most heavily-anticipated new releases, 12 Songs pairs the pop music icon with legendary producer Rick Rubin. Producing a Neil Diamond album has been a long-time dream for Rubin, whose extraordinary resume spans the history of hip-hop from LL Cool J to Jay Z, the world of hardcore rock from Slayer to System Of A Down, and the pantheon of mythic stars from Tom Petty and Donovan to Mick Jagger and Johnny Cash's immortal Grammy-winning American Recordings series.

"Most of the songs were recorded with Neil playing and singing at the same time," said Rick Rubin in a Rolling Stone article (9/22/05) profiling the producer, "and it's a different animal. It's taking him back to being more of a singer-songwriter. He really blows me away."

When it came time to record 12 Songs, Rick Rubin assembled a sympathetic ensemble of musicians to capture the essence of Neil Diamond's extraordinary new songs, each of them a finely-wrought gem, soul-searching, honest, yearning, and powerful.

A core group of musicians made up of Mike Campbell (guitar) and Benmont Tench (piano/organ) from Tom Petty's Heartbreakers and guitarist Smokey Hormel (Beck, Tom Waits) and other musicians including the renowned Larry Knechtel (piano) and Billy Preston (organ) played on the album.

The track listing for 12 Songs is: "Oh Mary," "Hell Yeah," "Captain of a Shipwreck," "Evermore," "Save Me A Saturday Night," "Delirious Love," "I'm On To You," "What's It Gonna Be," "Man of God," "Create Me," "Face Me," and "We." A special digipak edition of 12 Songs features two bonus tracks: "Men Are So Easy" and an alternate version of "Delirious Love" with guest artist Brian Wilson.

"….judging by eight finished tracks," wrote Lorraine Ali, previewing 12 Songs for Newsweek (August 1, 2005), "this is the best work Diamond has done in 30 years."

Amazon.com

Forget for a moment that you're a sophisticated consumer of music with a mercilessly low tolerance for schlock: Neil Diamond--"Cracklin' Rosie" and "Forever in Blue Jeans" be damned--is going to break your heart. 12 Songs, the hotly anticipated collaboration between Rick Rubin and the formerly jumpsuited Don Juan, exceeds all hopped-up expectations, deflating fans' concerns that their hero might fall flat on the frames of his huge sunglasses in attempting to turn out something hip and harnessing what sounds like decades' worth of untapped, superior songcraft instead. There it is on "Captain of a Shipwreck," a declaration of love that skims the poetic with its promise that "If you're captain of a shipwreck/I'll be first mate to your shame," and around it comes again on "Hell Yeah," a life-affirming, rumor-debunking anthem fairly bursting with bravado (think "I Am...I Said," but with context). Bravado aside, expect no pulled punches here. Rubin's masterful approach is to let Neil Diamond do what Neil Diamond does best, and that is to strap on a loose guitar and let those teflon-ravaged vocals ride over it. Some rides, of course, are smoother than others--Brian Wilson's guest spot on bonus track "Delirious Love" is so melodic and harmony-rich it ought to have sails attached, while "What's It Gonna Be" sounds like something snatched in a pre-dawn lark from a Leonard Cohen disc. All of it is lovely, every last track. A respectful rescripting of the legend, a la the Rubin-aided recasting of Johnny Cash after 2002's American Recordings, is in order. --Tammy La Gorce

Track Listings

Disc: 1

  1. Oh Mary
  2. Hell Yeah
  3. Captain Of A Shipwreck
  4. Evermore
  5. Save Me A Saturday Night
  6. Delirious Love
  7. I'm On To You
  8. What's It Gonna Be
  9. Man Of God
  10. Create Me
  11. Face Me
  12. We


Product Details

  • Audio CD (November 8, 2005)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Sony
  • ASIN: B000CD0P7S
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (112 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #131,330 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Audio CD
12 Songs is a rare treat this holiday season:Not another cynical
Best-Of cd to cash-in.Not another covers cd.And not cold studio-pop.12 Songs is music that goes for the heart in a very honest and natural way.And it does.

Neil's albums have lacked good production for a long time.Otherwise good rock songs softened into easy listening mush in the studio.But with Rubin,like with the 1976 Robbie Robertson-produced Beautiful Noise,a rock producer makes Neil shine! Neil's distinctive deep-bass of a voice and a natural way with hooks and melodies are not burried by orchestras and background singers.

also great are the lyrics.Neil Diamond hasn't run out of things to say at age 64.He has a whole life to reflect on.Lessons to share.Memories that are sometimes happy,sometimes heartbreakingly sad.And Neil is looking ahaid.If only more of his peers stuck in an elevator of pop standards would do the same.The lyrics are gutsy.

here is a track-by review rating of the 12 Songs

"Oh Marry"
a haunting death-ballad against a backdrop of creepy piano that gives me chills.I wonder who 'Mary' is.A metaphor?an angel?A lover from a long time ago?A pretend-lover in those lonely nights?the music?the song is so gentle yet so moving.

"Hell Yeah"
Reminds me of "Lady Magdalane" in that it starts with a guitar and brooding lyrcs,but grows into thunderous intenity and power.In a way,"Hell Yeah" is "I am I Said" over 30 years later.He found the self worth he was searching for.Found peace being lost between two shores.And even offers motivation and hope for listener to not be afraid to follow their dreams.Powerful!
Read more ›
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Format: Audio CD
Why do we like the music we like? Music is a very personal thing for some people. To judge a persons musical taste is like telling someone that you think their new bride is ugly. I have read professional reviews of this CD and they seem to be more about Mr. Diamond now being cool or being in with whatever is mainstream today. I like this CD because the song lyrics are very intimate and personal to the songwriter. The real life inspiration that created these songs is clearly reflected in each. Sit down, relax, put your headphones on and just listen to the music. This collection of songs is a quality effort from a veteran songwriter who still has something to say. Neil Diamond has been part of the American pop culture for years and whether you like him or not his music will live on for decades after he is gone. He didn't have to make this kind of CD for he really has nothing left to prove. Like I said before, just listen... you may find that some of these songs really hit home.
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Format: Audio CD
A die-hard Neil Diamond fan might like this album from the first listen, but for younger music fans it may take a few repeats to get into it. The simplicity of the man singing to the accompaniment of a guitar might seem quite unusual in this era of loud backing music, but this is Neil Diamond, one of the few who can carry it off in style.

This is a slow, laid-back Sunday afternoon sort of album, with some of the tracks sounding like vintage Diamond of the "Sweet Caroline" and "Song Sung Blue" era.

Songs to take note of are "Evermore", "Delirious Love", "Hell Yeah", "What's It Gonna Be" and "Captain of a Shipwreck."

With this album, we can almost forgive him for that awful rendition of "Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer", but unfortunately it will probably be best remembered as one of the last of the infamous Sony spyware discs, and that would be doing the album a great disservice.

Amanda Richards, December 8, 2005
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Format: Audio CD
If you are a fan of the bombastic Diamond of "America" or "Forever in Blue Jeans" this album may not be for you. If you have longed for the Diamond of the classic album "Moods" and his earlier simple pop, this is a grammy caliber effort.

The best song from here is "Evermore."
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Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
Of course I'm prejudiced; I've been a Neil Diamond fan since I was a young teen... I had all his albums until I moved some years ago and had to regretfully streamline my collection of "stuff". I have since replaced all of them with CD versions and they are better than ever.

Neil has a powerful sense of melody - a certain taste for something deep, nostalgic and soul-full - and I always thought that he was never appreciated as he should have been. Even when they were B class, his lyrics still had a certain thing about them that is hard to describe. His "Done too soon" and "Coldwater morning" always sent an arrow into my heart. Yeah, I know that he went in for some really overdone back-up music but I just saw this as an untapped classical potential, and some of his stage performances were seriously criticized by the "snobs", but heck! He was having fun with it! What's wrong with that? Some of his music would be well-suited for orchestral arrangement and performance in my opinion.

When I heard about a new album, I was afraid to listen - afraid that maybe my impressions had been illusory and I would have to encounter a Neil Diamond who wasn't what I thought he was.

Well, I'm so happy I bought the album! It's more Neil, real and deeper and just being himself to the max. There are songs on this album that are so catchy that they are absolutely classic! It's as though he writes songs that NEED to be written...

I understand that the album is also the last ever performance by organ player Billy Preston, who died in June 2006. That's especially poignant when you listen to "Man of God" with the strong organ back-up.

The more spiritual songs such as "Create Me" and the above mentioned "Man Of God") are among my favorites.

For the critics of Neil, I say listen to "Hell Yeah".
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