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Brother Love Returns: Neil Diamond’s “Hot August Night” Celebrates 40 Years With Newly-Expanded Reissue

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“The stage, she is the God-damnedest woman you ever saw.”

So said Neil Diamond on the occasion of his first Hot August Night, nearly forty years ago at Los Angeles’ Greek Theatre.  It was likely that the leaves were, indeed, hanging down, and the grass on the ground smelling…sweet.  Diamond is caught in an odd pose on the album’s cover, deep in a moment.  He’s in a beaded denim suit predating his famous glitter shirts, his long mane of hair wind-blown.  The harsh red lighting suggests the fire that was so imbued in his performance.  Indeed, by the time the double-LP set arrived to its natural conclusion, “Brother Love’s Traveling Salvation Show,” Diamond’s voice was shredded and torn, but his passion was never more evident.  Hot August Night just about defines every aspect of Neil Diamond, the musician and the entertainer.  And as Diamond prepares to celebrate 40 years of Hot August Night with a stand that month back at the Greek, the original, seminal concert set is receiving a 40th anniversary upgrade courtesy of Geffen Records, scheduled for July 31.

Recorded on Thursday August 24, 1972, the evening preserved on Hot August Night was just one of ten sold-out concerts Diamond performed that month at the 5,000-seat Greek Theatre.  The LP was his second live album, following 1970’s Gold: Recorded Live at the Troubadour, with a lean, mean Diamond at his most rock-and-roll.  August was successful stateside, but may have achieved its biggest impact in the land Down Under.  In Australia, Hot August Night spent a whopping 29 weeks at No. 1 on the album charts, becoming the top-charting album there for the entire decade.  (This record was broken when Dire Straits’ 1985 Brothers in Arms spent 34 weeks at pole position.)  Hot August Night also marked the end of an era for Neil Diamond; it was his final album for Uni/MCA, only his second label affiliation after he started his career at Bang Records.  The very next year, he signed a staggering deal with Columbia Records, where he remains today.

In 2000, MCA premiered an expanded Hot August Night, adding three songs to the line-up: “Walk on Water,” “Kentucky Woman” and “Stones.”  The 2012 edition adds three more songs and one new dialogue track.  Hit the jump for all of the details!

Added to the already-impressive sequence of songs will be “Gitchy Goomy” (from Moods), Randy Newman’s “I Think It’s Going to Rain Today” (from Stones) and “A Modern-Day Version of Love” (from Velvet Gloves and Spit.)  A fourth unreleased track debuts Diamond’s band introduction.  This is the most complete version of the concert yet.  The original LP liner notes mentioned that the guitar-slinging singer/songwriter was onstage for 107 minutes; the 1972 LPs ran for approximately 93 minutes, and the 2000 CD reissue upped the running time to 102 minutes.   These four tracks certainly push Hot August Night beyond the estimated 107 minute mark!  And indeed, Neil Diamond gave his all on this array of his greatest hits to date, from his opening “Crunchy Granola Suite” to the “Soolaimon/Brother Love’s Travelling Salvation Show” grand finale.  These were the days when Diamond could put “Sweet Caroline” early in the set; another perennial, “Cracklin’ Rosie,” kicked off the final quartet of songs also including “Holly Holy” and, of course, “I Am…I Said.”  He was backed by seven band members and an impressive string section on Bang classics like “Red, Red Wine,” “Cherry Cherry” and “Girl, You’ll Be a Woman Soon” as well as lesser-known songs like “Porcupine Pie,” “You’re So Sweet” and “Soggy Pretzels.”

Neil Diamond has returned to the Hot August Night motif numerous times.   1986’s sequel album Hot August Night II shared some of the same repertoire with its predecessor, but this time, “Soolaimon” and “Brother Love” were followed by “Heartlight,” of all songs!  That evening at the Greek, Diamond also introduced his version of the then-new “I Dreamed a Dream,” from the musical Les Miserables!  In 2010, Columbia released Hot August Night NYC on DVD/BD and CD, recorded at Madison Square Garden.  In the Hot August spirit was 1977’s double-album Love at the Greek, produced by Robbie Robertson of The Band and still not available on CD at its full length.  Each album captures Diamond at a different stage in his career, but whatever the highlights of those follow-up albums (and there are many), none match the sheer, raw vibrancy and urgency of the 1972 Hot August Night.

Neil Diamond will celebrate 40 years of Hot August Night when he returns this summer for five more sold-out shows at The Greek Theatre.  But even if you can’t make those shows, you can relive the incendiary original album with Geffen’s new, expanded edition.  It’s in stores on July 31, and can be pre-ordered below!  And vinyl enthusiasts take note: a replica edition of the original LP will arrive on August 14, and can be pre-ordered here!

Neil Diamond, Hot August Night: 40th Anniversary Deluxe Edition (Geffen Records, 2012)

CD 1

  1. Prologue
  2. Crunchy Granola Suite
  3. Done Too Soon
  4. Dialogue
  5. Solitary Man
  6. Cherry Cherry
  7. Sweet Caroline
  8. Porcupine Pie
  9. You’re So Sweet
  10. Red Red Wine
  11. Soggy Pretzels
  12. Gitchy Goomy
  13. And The Grass Won’t Pay No Mind
  14. I Think It’s Going To Rain Today
  15. Shilo
  16. Modern Day Version Of Love
  17. Girl You’ll Be A Woman Soon
  18. Walk On Water
  19. Kentucky Woman
  20. Stones
  21. Musician Intros

CD 2

  1. Play Me
  2. Canta Libre
  3. Morningside
  4. Song Sung Blue
  5. Cracklin’ Rosie
  6. Holly Holy
  7. I Am…I Said
  8. Soolaimon/Brother Love’s Travelling Salvation Show

CD 1, Tracks 1-11, 13, 15, 17 and CD 2, Tracks 1-8 originally released on Hot August Night, Uni LP 6641-066, 1972
CD 1, Tracks 12, 14, 16 & 21 previously unreleased
CD 1, Tracks 18-20 originally released on Hot August Night, MCA CD 088 112 330-2, 2000

Written by Joe Marchese

July 13, 2012 at 09:54

Posted in Neil Diamond, News, Reissues

11 Responses

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  1. That cover always frightened me, because it barely looks like him. I remember when my parents brought it home I was confused, thinking it was Neil Young.


    July 13, 2012 at 10:29

  2. I believe Friday Music is doing vinyl on this one soon. It was announced earlier this year on their Facebook page. Don’t know if it’s been cancelled or not.

    Dean Davenport

    July 13, 2012 at 15:56

  3. I agree with Wardo — I still don’t think that looks anything like Neil on that cover – never did. Horrible photo.


    July 13, 2012 at 19:25

  4. I have always liked this album cover. It was so raw and pre-sequined blouse or as my brother used to call Neil’s cheesy on stage attire “jiffy-pop shirts” I wish Geffen had replicated the original cover art in Mini LP form ala Japan.


    July 13, 2012 at 20:08

  5. Speak of the devil!Just got an email from Elusive Disc saying the vinyl will be out on August 14 from Universal not Friday Music.


    July 13, 2012 at 20:10

  6. Neil, in his hippie duds, long hair, and apparently playing with his invisible three-foot member, is all kinds of awesome. Iconic picture, and one of my favorite album covers ever.

    Oh, and the music on that album’s good too!


    July 13, 2012 at 23:38

  7. What a fantastic, iconic, album. And WTF with that cover. Yes, it looks like he’s playing with himself. Who picked that?

    Dan S (@dmax)

    July 14, 2012 at 02:30

  8. Sadly underwheming. And with all those shows from that week. This set should have been rich with tracks!


    July 14, 2012 at 02:43

    • Is it safe to assume that, at 107 minutes (or more) of content, this is finally the complete show? If so, I’m not sure how many more tracks (from other nights), if any, were needed.

      I guess it depends on what was recorded, the quality of said recordings, and were there any additional songs not performed on 8/24/72? If it he did the same show each night, what’s the point?

      Anyway, I’m not sure if this worth replacing the last upgrade of this album or not. My wife, who’s a big Neil fan, will probably want it. It is a great live album… Definitely underrated, and I would actually put it in the same league as Live at Leeds, Mad Dogs and Englishmen, Europe ’72, and the Allmans at Fillmore East.


      July 14, 2012 at 11:36

      • I agree. Hot August Night is one of the best live albums of all time.


        July 14, 2012 at 20:16

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