Pretentious jowly mumrock: Neil Diamond’s Hot August Night III reviewed

1 September 2018 9:00 AM

Grade: C+

Mumrock. A lucrative genre, dating from the beginning of the 1970s, when Mums suddenly wanted something a little bit hip. My own mother briefly succumbed to the inane imagery and kindergarten melody of ‘Song Sung Blue’, sometime in 1972, before she moved on to more sophisticated stuff (Gilbert O’Sullivan, as I recall). This is Diamond’s 40th anniversary collection of hits, live or otherwise, and his third Hot August Night containing the same songs. Hasn’t everybody got all this hideous dross by now? Is the only selling point this time that he’s singing them at 71, the voice still throatily pompous, the medallion still on display?

Was he ever any good? Let’s give him a point for the catchy gospel pastiche of ‘I’m A Believer’ and half a point for ‘Sweet Caroline’, despite a meagre chorus after that laborious, interminable build-up. They’re both here, of course, along with that one where he can’t be sure if he exists or not and was disappointed to discover that verification, one way or the other, was not forthcoming from his chair. And the other one where he explains at some length that he much prefers wearing jeans to other kinds of trousers. And the mysterious ode to a pig, ‘Cracklin’ Rosie’. Oh, and there’s ‘Red Red Wine’, natch — better than the UB40 version, but that is setting the bar kinda low.

Revisionism has been unduly kind to Diamond. But there ain’t no revisionism in this column, matey. If Mumrock is on offer, I’ll take Glen Campbell singing Jimmy Webb or David Gates singing David Gates. This is pretentious jowly schlock.