A chirpy album entirely brought about by a completely unplanned single.
David Quantick 2010-09-07
Albums these days are planned, scheduled and mapped out far in advance of the actual recording. So this 1978 set may be one of the freshest ever, as it was entirely brought about by a completely unplanned single.
The story of this album’s title-track – and the whole record is constructed around its huge success – is a peculiar one. Written as the theme for a US TV series, but never used, the song was then recorded separately by Neil Diamond and by Barbra Streisand for their own albums. Then, when a DJ made his own early mash-up of the two versions, Streisand and Diamond got together and recorded You Don’t Bring Me Flowers as a proper duet. It duly became a huge hit and did no harm to the career of either artist; it also arguably pioneered the high-profile celebrity duet so beloved of Dolly Parton and Kenny Rogers, among many others.
Certainly its success seems to have made Diamond almost giddy with happiness; this album is one of his best pop collections and is filled with a breeziness untypical of the great man. Although the title-track – a brilliant, melancholy song with a great vocal by Streisand – is far from cheerful, almost everything else here seems to be having a splendid time. Forever in Blue Jeans is a marvellous single; American Popular Song manages to be epic but also chirpy, like a giant sparrow; and there’s a charming cover of The Fortunes’ 1965 hit, You’ve Got Your Troubles. And while there’s a slight dip towards the serious in Mothers and Daughters, Fathers and Sons, and the lightly melancholic Remember Me, that’s more than compensated for by the extremely bizarre The Dancing Bumble Bee/ Bumble Bee Boogie, a disco pastiche which suggests that Diamond may have gone briefly mad.