On the eve of the artist’s induction into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame on March 14, Columbia Records and Legacy Recordings are proud to announce the release of Neil Diamond The Bang Years 1966 – 1968, 23 core cuts establishing the artist’s electrifying transition from struggling Tin Pan Alley songwriter to full-on American rock star lovingly restored to full-impact original mono for this definitive edition.
Neil Diamond The Bang Years 1966 – 1968 will be available everywhere on Tuesday, March 8.
The American independent label Bang Records was founded by songwriter Bert Berns (“Twist & Shout,” “Hang On Sloopy”) in 1965 and produced a string of AM pop radio hits in the mid-1960s which included the earliest recordings of Neil Diamond, a Brill Building songwriter transitioning into performing his own songs.
Neil’s period as a Bang records artist produced one of the most vibrant and timeless catalogs in pop history. Arriving on the American pop radio scene in the middle of the British invasion and an emerging West Coast psychedelia, Neil Diamond’s songs of inner personal struggle and introspection, mixed with an exuberant love of life and sense of awe, struck a chord with an ever-expanding audience through some of the most beloved songs of his career: “Cherry, Cherry,” “Solitary Man,” “Kentucky Woman,” “Shilo,” “Red, Red Wine” and others.
Over the years, Neil’s Bang Records catalog has inspired some of the most memorable covers in pop history: The Monkees’ “I’m A Believer,” the best-selling record of 1967; UB40′s reggae-fied “Red, Red Wine,” a US Number 1 in 1984; Urge Overkill’s “Girl, You’ll Be A Woman Soon,” pulsing through Quentin Tarantino’s “Pulp Fiction” in 1994; and Johnny Cash’s weighty “Solitary Man,” on his third American Recordings album with Rick Rubin in 2000.
As a special bonus for Neil Diamond fans, the artist has written a set of extensive and revelatory liner notes especially for Neil Diamond The Bang Years 1966 – 1968, capturing his feelings about the songs and the era as only he could:
“I realized that something was happening that had never happened before for me. My new songs contained something that none of my previous ones had…they contained me and my life at their core…. I had finally found, on the crossroads of desperation and opportunity, the understanding of what I needed to do to write truly affecting songs—I had only to be open and honest, dammit, about my own life and experiences and to stop trying to make up silly songs about made up people, situations and relationships for singers whose lives and feelings I knew nothing about.
“‘Solitary Man’ would be the first of many ‘me’ songs and that element along with the superb quality of my producers Jeff Barry and Ellie Greenwich, the great recording engineers Tom Dowd, Phil Ramone and Brooks Arthur (who never once allowed me to double my voice—they wanted the real Neil), the musicians (who were the best players in the world) and our arranger, Artie (“It’s been a real ‘pressure’ working with you”) Butler would make all the difference.
“Throw all those elements together and you had the beginnings of a Big Bang career that all finally came together in one explosive spiritual expression of creativity. When the dust of that first session settled, my first chart record ‘Solitary Man’ was born and my life was forever changed. That day led to other days and other sessions and other spiritual moments which were all connected to my life and dreams.”
Neil Diamond – The Bang Years 1966 – 1968
1 SOLITARY MAN
2 CHERRY, CHERRY
3 GIRL, YOU’LL BE A WOMAN SOON
4 KENTUCKY WOMAN
5 THANK THE LORD FOR THE NIGHT TIME
6 YOU GOT TO ME
7 I’M A BELIEVER
8 RED, RED WINE
9 THE BOAT THAT I ROW
10 DO IT
11 NEW ORLEANS
12 MONDAY, MONDAY
13 RED RUBBER BALL
14 I’LL COME RUNNING
15 LA BAMBA
16 THE LONG WAY HOME
17 I’VE GOT THE FEELING (OH NO NO)
18 YOU’LL FORGET
19 LOVE TO LOVE
20 SOMEDAY BABY
21 HANKY PANKY
22 THE TIME IS NOW
Source: Legacy Records