Music Webmaster Len Mullenger


Collection: THE MOVIE ALBUM As Time Goes By Neil Diamond (vocals) with orchestra conducted by Elmer Bernstein COLUMBIA C2K 69440 2CDs [67:03]  



"As Time Goes By" from CASABLANCA (Herman Hupfeld/prelude composed by Elmer Bernstein);
"Secret Love" from CALAMITY JANE (Sammy Fain & Paul Francis Webster);
"Unchained Melody" from UNCHAINED (Hy Zaret & Alex North);
"Can You Feel the Love Tonight" from THE LION KING (Elton John & Tim Rice);
"The Way You Look Tonight" from SWING TIME (Jerome Kern & Dorothy Fields);
"Love With the Proper Stranger" from LOVE WITH THE PROPER STRANGER (Elmer Bernstein & Johnny Mercer);
"Puttin' On the Ritz" from PUTTIN' ON THE RITZ (Irving Berlin);
"When You Wish Upon a Star" from PINOCCHIO (Ned Washington & Leigh Harline);
"The Windmills of Your Mind" from THE THOMAS CROWN AFFAIR (Marilyn & Alan Bergman & Michel LeGrand);
"Ebb Tide" from SWEET BIRD OF YOUTH (Robert Maxwell & Carl Sigman);
"True Love" from HIGH SOCIETY (Cole Porter);
"My Heart Will Go On" from TITANIC (James Horner & Will Jennings);
"The Look of Love" from CASINO ROYALE (Hal David & Burt Bacharach);
"In the Still of the Night" from ROSALIE (Cole Porter);
"Moon River" from BREAKFAST AT TIFFANY'S (Johnny Mercer & Henry Mancini);
"Ruby" from RUBY GENTRY (Mitchell Parish & Heinz Roemheld);
Suite Sinatra: "I've Got You Under My Skin" from BORN TO DANCE (Cole Porter) &
"One For My Baby" from SKY'S THE LIMIT (Johnny Mercer & Harold Arlen);
"And I Love Her" from A HARD DAY'S NIGHT (John Lennon & Paul McCartney);
"Can't Help Falling In Love" from BLUE HAWAII (George David Weiss, Hugo Peretti & Luigi Creatore);
"As Time Goes By" Reprise

There are some things you never expect. Take, for example, this Neil Diamond release. One could say it aims to attract fans of film songs who can tolerate Diamond's voice. Another could say it aims to attract fans of Diamond who can tolerate film songs. It does not matter.

Admittedly, Diamond's vocals are an acquired taste, and he does sometimes falter on this 2CD set from Columbia Records. After a grand introduction composed by Elmer Bernstein, Diamond exceeds expectations with a classic rendition of 'As Time Goes By.' He holds onto that high until 'Can You Feel The Love Tonight,' at which point he succumbs to gross melodrama. This unfortunate trend continues off-and-on over the course of both discs. Concerning the most popular song on the compilation, his interpretation of the insipid 'My Heart Will Go On' is more skilled than that of Celine Dion (though the over-emphatic phrasing appears here as well), and Jeremy Lubbock deserves kudos for writing as intelligent and original an arrangement of the song as humanly possible. Other songs that fair best under Diamond's voice are 'Love With the Proper Stranger,' 'When You Wish Upon a Star,' 'Ebb Tide,' 'True Love,' and perhaps 'Ruby.'

Apart from the vocalist, the disc features a skilled team of film musicians. Die-hard filmusic aficionados will spot many familiar names in the orchestra and production notes. Elmer Bernstein conducts with precision, and the instrumentalists play their hearts out.

The arrangements by Jonathan Tunick, William Ross, Jeremy Lubbock, Elmer Bernstein & Jon A. Kull, Alan Lindgren, Patrick Williams, Tom Hensley, and Jorge Calandrelli range wildly from clever harmonies to overbearing monstrosities. Tunick and Lubbock present the music in top form; ignoring the lamentable 'Puttin' On the Ritz,' Ross does as well. Every one of Lindren's arrangements goes for empty technique and cheap dramatics.

The selection of songs places emphasis on ballads, so the music bounces without ever getting much above the metaphorical trampoline. It needs the sparkling inclusion of something extraordinary to divide the sameness. A sense of fun is all but excised. Now, who would not secretly enjoy a Neil Diamond version of 'Ewok Celebration' from "Return of the Jedi"...

The production is classy, with some great photographs from the recording sessions and of Diamond. Columbia recorded the album at the Alfred Newman Scoring Stage on the Twentieth Century Fox studio lot, and the sound is appropriately mixed in a manner which recalls classic Hollywood (without the deterioration). It is crisp, clear, but somewhat distant. Diamond wrote his own humorously effusive liner notes.

It is an enjoyable disc and a sure filmusic novelty, but its hits are only slightly more obvious than its misses.


Jeffrey Wheeler


Jeffrey Wheeler

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