Producers: Neil Diamond, Tom Catalano, Tommy Cogbill, Chips Moman, Chip Taylor.
Compilation producer: Andy McKaie.
Recorded between 1968 and 1973. Includes liner notes by Joseph Laredo.
This is part of MCA's 20th Century Masters: The Millennium Collection series.
Liner Note Author: Joseph F. Laredo.
Photographers: Frank Bez; Joe Sia.
Arrangers: Lee Holdridge ; Marty Paich; Larry Muhoberac.
Like any record company worth their salt, MCA knows a good gimmick when they see it, and when the millennium came around, well, the 20th Century Masters -- The Millennium Collection wasn't too far behind. Supposedly, the millennium is a momentous occasion, but it's hard to feel that way when it's used as another excuse to turn out a budget-line series. But apart from the presumptuous title, 20th Century Masters -- The Millennium Collection turns out to be a very good budget-line series. True, it's impossible for any of these brief collections to be definitive, but they're nevertheless solid samplers that don't feature a bad song in the bunch. For example, take Neil Diamond's 20th Century volume -- it's an irresistible summary of his MCA years, rivaling the previous His 12 Greatest Hits. There may be a couple of noteworthy songs missing, but all the big hits of that era are here, including "Sweet Caroline," "Holly Holy," "Song Sung Blue," "Brother Love's Traveling Salvation Show," "Play Me," "Brooklyn Roads," "Crunchy Granola Suite," "Stone," "Soolaimon," "I Am...I Said" and "Cracklin' Rosie." Serious fans will want something more extensive, but this is an excellent introduction for neophytes and a great sampler for casual fans, considering its length and price. That doesn't erase the ridiculousness of the series title, but the silliness is excusable when the music and the collections are good. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine