Let’s Discuss The Jazz Singer


This article gives a half-decent summary of the album accompanying the film which starred Neil.

Neil Diamond And ‘The Jazz Singer’: Why Cinema’s Loss Was Music’s Gain

http://flip.it/P_iqJQ

Looking back, we have Neil the passable actor and his more lauded musical side, but he was never a darling of the critics and the film’s gestation wasn’t without problems.

I think the album is fantastic and merits a full listen. Beyond the obvious three hits lie songs like Jerusalem, Songs of Life and Amazed and Confused – all above average tracks in my humble opinion. Then the catchy You Baby (which in the film was part of the homage to Jolson, but these days might raise eyebrows) and Summerlove – both well-written songs.

All in all, the album works well and joins, perhaps, Beautiful Noise and Tap Root Manuscript to make a Trilogy of generally coherent contrasting concept albums, aside from Jonathan Livingston Seagull which I feel stands on its own on a cliff as a work of extreme power and depth.

Luckily there are great copies of The Jazz Singer album available on vinyl and CD. Back in the day, it was deemed audiophile enough to even have an expensive version on record and it was revived more recently on LP for the 50th Anniversary and also for Captiol’s anniversary. The CD is good anyway.

After The Jazz Singer, Neil seemed to settle more into the AOR genre and stayed with it, yet the album managed to secure his credentials as more than just what his early stuff did. Bear in mind, this was more than a decade into his career, a time when many artists would simple disappear.

The main shortcoming of the album was the actual film, which is still loved by Neil’s fans in general, but wasn’t by most others. However, one would not exist without the other, and the other would not be remembered without the one, so there we go.

Let’s see if anyone wishes to continue the discussion….

 

 

 

 

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This article has 9 Comments

  1. Absolutely ....Lets

     

    I guess at one point in a popular musicians life there comes a time when someone says it’s time to move into Acting, many have done it before and many will continue to keep trying to do it.

     

    Some have done it with great success while most have failed dismally.

     

    I guess for Neil it was a tad too late as the release of the Album “You Don’t Bring Me Flowers” was the beginning of the transition of moving into the middle of the road category and thus no longer being seen as a serious artist within the mainstream music industry. Yes I can hear all the people out there baggin’ me for that statement. But it’s a fact and even Neil made a huge mention of it in his RRHOFF drunken speech about that Song with Barbara and how he couldn’t give a shit.

     

    So even Neil himself accepts that fact. So the acting transition really should’ve been done around the time of Beautiful Noise if he was going to have a serious crack at it.

     

    Anyway, the album was a cracker and yes I also have the Mobile Fidelity Sound Labs issue of it.

    I notice there’s one track which I always loved off the album and which no one ever seems to mention, it’s as if it never existed and that’s “Hey Louise”. As far as I know Neil’s only ever done it once or twice in Concert back in the days of the JS release era.

     

    Anyway that’s my take on this superb album.

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  2. Yes, let's...

    The movie did it for me, this is how I became a Neil fan.  I was about 12 when I first saw it on HBO, clearly after the movie release, probably 1983 ish.  I loved it, movie and album.  I bought the cassette and wore it out until my mother gave me Classics the Early Years.

    I never understood why the movie took so much grief.  I didn’t think Neil was nearly as horrible an actor as he was made to be and the movie itself is a classic story of traditional son, leaves family to pursue his own dreams.  America was the perfect song to lead the soundtrack considering the symbolism.

    My favorite scene in the movie was the “Love on the Rocks scene” when Neil basically takes his butchered song by Keith Lennox and shows off his chops.  Thought it was great, and the symbolism of him working on that song while back in Brooklyn when he clearly had doubts about his marriage.

    I didn’t care for the driving scene with the weird music while he was releasing the emotion of the falling out he had with his father.  It was tacky but also in 1980 that’s the way it was done.

    As mentioned already by April Nights Hey Louise is a hidden gem and I wish it made Neil’s set lists more often, not sure why it was put on the shelf.  I still watch the movie from time to time and still enjoy it. Had it not been for the rainy afternoon at my grandmother’s watching with my Aunt it’s possible a large part of my life would be different.  Who knows maybe I’d be a Manilow fan haha.

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  3. Hey Louise, Yes!

    You are both right about this song. It is a very well constructed gem.

    I don’t know why I didn’t figure to mention it at the top. The strength of the other album songs is so high that they all compete as sleeping favourites.

    To me, the film is good and has some great moments. I love Lucy Arnaz in it, She is very convincing. I believe she was brought in later after the original actor’s involvement didn’t work out. But I did think she shared a chemistry with Neil in their scenes and held her own well.

    The Keith Lennox role was Paul Nicholas, well known in Britain as a stage musical actor and he played the arrogant rock star well.

    The resonance of the song America and it’s relevance to Neil’s own family history helps add a level of truth to the storyline.

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  4. The Jazz Singer

    I have always really liked the album and have always, at best, been ambivalent about the film.

    The hit singles are terrific. Hey Louise, Jerusalem and Songs of Life are also great tracks.

    As to the film, I thought Lucy Arnaz was wonderful, Laurence Olivier chewed the scenery, Neil was uncomfortable, awkward and wooden and the film was uninspired.  I know that is a minority view here.

    I noted the suggestion above that Neil started transitioning into MOR territory with the release of You Don’t Bring Me Fowers.  I’m afraid I fundamentally disagree with this proposition.  Neil was seen as a singles artist up to Hot August Night and, as such, was perceived as a purveyor of catchy pop songs.  That is never going to impress the rock music critics.  Consequently,  I believe Neil was seen as middle of the road quite early in his rise to stardom.   Hence the ridiculous reaction at the time to his inclusion on The Last Waltz.

    Who cares what the critics thought anyway?  Very few of the current critics’ darlings at any given time stand the test of longevity.  The fact that Neil had such a long career, with so many devoted fans of all ages speaks volumes about his ability to connect with something visceral in us that is far more powerful than the criticism of a few pretentious opinionated rock journalists.

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  5. The adventure began here...

    I am sure I must have heard “Cherry, Cherry” and “Sweet Caroline” or at least one of Neil’s songs on the radio first, but watching this film as a child in the early 2000s is how I first became aware of Neil Diamond.  And being a child, I didn’t really think about the quality of the the cinematography, the acting, the direction, etc… I was just having a great time watching a fun movie with this awesome lead actor who sang beautifully 🙂
    It wasn’t until years later that I found out about all the criticism of the film.  I guess people generally think that most fans are positively biased about the movie, but I think all the bad press itself has been heavily biased (both then and now)…
     

    Either way, I still love the movie, and it also led to me becoming a fan (high five, Gino 🖐️)

     

    …Everyone has the right to their own opinion, but I often wish critics hasn’t been so harsh, because then perhaps Neil would have explored that world a bit more 🤔

    However, if he felt focusing on music instead was the right thing for him, I’m glad he did so 👍

     

    As far as the album, it’s pretty solid from start to finish.  Yes!  “Hey Louise” is a fav 🎶 But it is seriously impossible to pick just one.

    The raw emotion that comes through on “Love on the Rocks” is so gripping, “Songs of Life” carries such a meaningful message…

     

    And we can’t forget Neil’s versions of “You Are My Sunshine” and “Hava Nagila”!  I love these and wish full versions had been recorded at the time (they could have be released as bonus tracks later on).

     

    Thanks for starting this thread, Cooke!  It’s great to see the board coming to life again.

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  6. You are welcome

    My intention was, as Songs Are Life suggests, to try to get some more life into this board.

    Neil Diamond has obviously meant so much to many people, and discussion amongst like minded fans is a nice thing to have.

    Now we have the privilege of looking back on his catalogue, we can share our thoughts.

    Interesting also that there are fans on here who discovered Neil at different times. Such is the power of his music.

    Extending this discussion, personally, I love the trilogy of albums following Jazz Singer. All I treat as albums and listen to them as such. I’d like, in time, to maybe spark discussion about these later on, once we’ve dissected Jazz Singer a little more.

    An extended remaster of the album with additional material would be interesting but it probably won’t happen. I bet only snippets of You Are My Sunshine etc. were ever made.

    Interesting points of view re when Neil’s MoR status was birthed. I suspect a certain song sung blue was a factor as it got adopted by every easy listening singer around at the time.

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  7. Hey Louise.............

     

    as I always thought was totally inaudible to most people and that I was the only person that had the privilege of hearing it and surprisingly after me mentioning it on this thread it’s suddenly become audible again. Funny how things work.

     

    I’ve always thought it was the gem that was just never given the opportunity to shine.

     

    I honestly love the idea of re-floating this board with the concept mentioned above, but in saying that I always felt that the following 3 albums turned him right off with Music Directors in radio stations. Truthfully that’s also when I jumped off the train until Lovescape came around and I was waiting at the station to get back on.

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  8. Which songs on other albums could have been on The Jazz Singer?

    I would suggest for starters The Drifter and On The Way To The Sky from the next album could have fitted in to the Jazz Singer.

    Not that I’d ever believe a sequel was ever on the cards…

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  9. Oooh...

    I can see how your picks would fit in 🎵

     

    Let’s see now.  To start, musically “Desirée” feels like one of the closest fits (lyrics aside of course…).

     

    More abstractly, if “No Words” had been recorded/produced back then, it kinda could be worked in 🤔

     

    Other overall possibilities, pretty much as they are, include:

    “Remember Me”
    “Beautiful Noise”
    “Yesterday’s Songs”

    And, if you think about it, these last 3 actually could  work in the film or in an imaginary continuation to the story, lol.  It’s fun to wonder what happened next for Jess and Molly (and Charlie)…

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