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Taproot Manuscript CD

4.7 out of 5 stars 98 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Neil gets all experimental with children's choirs and African chants on side two of this ambitious 1970 LP, but still delivered the hits with Cracklin' Rosie; Soolaimon , and He Ain't Heavy, He's My Brother .
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Product Details

  • Audio CD (August 24, 1987)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Format: CD
  • Label: Geffen
  • ASIN: B000002PBO
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (98 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #10,094 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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Format: Audio CD
I was born in late 1969, and my parents must have bought this album shortly thereafter, for I have always known it. These songs are interwoven into my earliest memories. Consequently, it's probably not possible to write an entirely objective review. But I think my judgment may have matured to the point where I can separate at least some of the musical wheat from the chaff of my childhood.
This album was obviously a labor of love for Neil Diamond. Everything about it was lovingly wrought, including the packaging. In fact, my only complaint about the CD reissue is the loss of the gorgeous design work of art director John C. Le Prevost, designer Virginia Clark, photographers Jim Metropole and Larry Bartome, and calligrapher Jonzarr Haber. The original album cover had a satisfying heft to it, being printed on incredibly heavy, textured stock. Although it housed a single record, it folded out like a double album, revealing the other half of the moody, introspective photograph that began on the front cover and continued on like a Cinerama movie screen. Included inside was a booklet, printed on fine writing paper, supplying the lyrics for 'Childsong,' 'I Am The Lion,' 'Soolaimon,' and 'Missa' (in both English and Swahili) in earthy sepia calligraphy. Additionally, it included Neil Diamond's own explanation of the concept of the album:
"When rhythm and blues lost its sensuality for me I fell in love with a woman named gospel. We met secretly in the churches of Harlem, and made love at revival meetings in Mississippi. And loving her as I did, I found a great yearning to know of her roots. And I found them. And they were in Africa. And they left me breathless. The African Trilogy is an attempt to convey my passion for the folk music of that black continent. -n.d.
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Format: Audio CD
At the time of his greatest popularity, Neil Diamond was quite experimental in some of his albums, which boldly showed his unusual willingness to take chances in pursuit of broadening his musical abilities and interests. This album, "Tap Root Manuscript", was the result of one such effort to experiment with African sounds and instruments, and one which paid off in terms of his commercial success and also with a number of top ten hits coming directly from the album. Some of the songs, like "Crackling Rosie", were not part of the concept, while others such as "Soolaimon", definitely were. At any rate, the combination of the two aspects of the album made for a number one Billboard rating.
Included here are other popular songs like "Done Too Soon", and a cover of "He Ain't Heavy, He's My Brother". I especially like the whole African song cycle, from "Childsong" through its reprise at the end of the album. "I am The Lion", "Madrigal", and "African Suite" are all interesting and quite innovative for the late 1960s time frame of the original recording. This was a trend-setting album and another notch in the growing body of recordings Diamond produced in his reign as one of America's favorite singer-songwriters of the 1960s and 1970s. Enjoy!
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Format: Audio CD
In my opinion, this is THE best Neil Diamond album ever recorded. "Stones" and "Moods" were close with many of the same production values, but "TRM" could not be topped. My first exposure to this album was when I was 10. My aunt and uncle had just purchased a new set of stereo components and they loved playing this album for those who had never heard it before. When I first heard Neil's amazing voice, the incredible orchestral arrangements by Lee Holdridge, and the experimental concept of "The African Trilogy", I at my young age never knew music could sound so good. Though some may argue the point, I believe this album sounds just as good today as it did in 1970. There's not much music around today that can claim that.

Most people are familiar with the two big singles from this album, Cracklin' Rosie and Soolaimon. But, if you've never heard "Tap Root Manuscript" from beginning to end, you owe it to yourself to add this to your collection. True, the CD doesn't have all the cool packaging of the original album, but the music is there and intact.

Hey MCA, how about a 25th Anniversary edition of "TPR" for 2005 with all the original artwork and liner notes restored?! I'm sure I'm not the only ND fan that would snatch that one up in a second.
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Format: Audio CD
This was such a departure from the Brill Building tunes! Neil Diamond so dominated the sixties with song after wonderful song. This album has included a few of his 'traditional' pieces here to satisfy the fan who wants the music the way it had been. The commerically popular include "Cracklin Rosie" and "Done Too Soon" and his emotive "He Ain't Heavy".
The magic, though, comes on side two with "The African Trilogy". I, too could have done without the sound effects, but they do not distract me too much (not like the critic) from the wonderfully gentle and passionate music. Almost a full decade before Paul Simon discovered the beautiful sounds of Soweto in Graceland or Brasilia in Rhythm of the Saints, N.D. was way out in front of the pack.
I had been too many years without hearing this album. It was immediately as comfortable and familiar as a lover's embrace.
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