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Diamond is Forever

Wipe that smirk off your face and honor thy father

From then on, everything came in one color, and that color was platinum. Love at the Greek (1977) from the concert of the same name begat '78's "You Don't Bring Me Flowers" (with Babs Streisand) and '80's "September Morn." And then there was The Jazz Singer, another attempt at keeping up with the Jolsons.

A critical flop and box-office non-contender, The Jazz Singer (which put Diamond opposite Sir Laurence Olivier, of all people) nevertheless yielded not one but three Top 10 hits A "Love on the Rocks," "America," and "Hello Again," placing Diamond in that rare and lofty position of multi-platinum artist. In other words, a sure sell. And a long, long way from his days as a Brooklyn troubadour.

After '81 there came no new gems from the Diamond mine, but Neil, with the fortitude of a born fighter, refused to lie down for the count, and throughout the Eighties he toured and toured and toured, setting all kinds of box-office records from Australia to America. Diamond managed to keep his fan base loyal and intact, but the critics (as critics are wont to do) remained skeptical. And it wasn't until UB40 made a monster out of his "Red, Red Wine" that those fickle barometers of taste began to dust off their old Diamond collection (though they may have been tempted to rebury it after a horrendous and inexplicable collection of Christmas songs released this past holiday season).

But they (and you) will have to dust no longer, for there's two hefty doses of Diamond out now that are sure to quench the thirst of even the most dehydrated of fans A and knock some sense as well into his detractors. The first, The Greatest Hits 1966-1992, is, as its title implies, simply the greatest of Neil Diamond, 37 tracks crammed onto two CDs. The second, Glory Road: 1968 to 1972, also a two CD collection, delivers the goods between Diamond's Bang years and '72's massive "Hot August Night," when Diamond, some would argue, was at his peak. The former, on Columbia, is by far the most comprehensive of the two, but the latter, on MCA, is fun aplenty for the die-hards, and both offer ample evidence that Neil Diamond deserves another listen.

Neil Diamond performs Sunday and Monday at the Miami Arena, 721 NW 1st Ave, 530-4400. Both shows are sold out.

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