Sunday, August 23, 2020

Hot August Night, 48 years later


48 years ago, August 24, 1972, the Hot August Night album by Neil Diamond was recorded at LA's Greek Theater. One of ten sold-out concerts that Diamond performed that month. Then on December 9, 1972 it was released as a double album with over 93 minutes of music. The cover had this amazing but almost unrecognizable photo of Neil Diamond. 

The album opens up to this photo looking back at the audience.

When I was a kid this record was played in our house soo much for soo many years that it was worn out, the record grooves and the album itself. I was 11 years old when it came out and it was another lesson in good music from my parents. They played music like Sinatra, Big Band music and Jazz all the time in the our house. 

Many many weekend nights my mother would put this record on the stereo turntable, my brother and I and mom would listen and sing along. We got to know it very well, every song, every change, every beat. 

The record starts out with a prologue, you can hear the crowd noise. You hear a cello, then another. And then the string section and organ crescendo into a tune called Crunchy Granola Suite, that rocks the house with pounding drums and a loud electric guitar part. 

From YouTube the first 7 minutes of the record

So many great tunes on this record. Solitary Man,  Sweet Caroline, Shilo, I am I said. 22 songs in all. 

Re-listening to the record as I write this, I have the same level of excitement I felt as a kid. It's just a tremendous record. And the sound quality for a live album is spectacular.  

This is the back of the album.

The Greek Theater is half way up a canyon on the way to Griffith Observatory in Griffith Park. It's a special place to see and hear music performed. The idea for the Greek Theater originated with wealthy landownerGriffith J. Griffith who donated 3,000 acres of land to the city of Los Angeles in 1896 to create Griffith Park. A canyon site was chosen because of its good acoustics. The cornerstone was laid in 1928 and the building was dedicated in 1930. 

Neil says hello to the tree people on the album. The sold out show made people sneak behind the theater and into the trees. Neil says "Tree people out there, god bless you, I'm singing for you too"

Halfway though the record Neil introduces the band and jokes around for 7 minutes, very entertaining.

Diamond later released three live "sequel" albums, Hot August Night II (1987), Hot August Night/NYC (2009), and Hot August Night III (2018)

The Hot August Night album went multiple platinum in the US. In 2012, the 40th anniversary remastered deluxe edition was released. 

The Greek Theater

Neil is now 79 years old has retired from the road due to Parkinson's disease. He sure left his mark and what a huge legacy. Diamond made 34 studio albums, 9 live albums, 42 Compilations albums and 37 Top 40 hits. He has sold over 100 million records.

Hot August Night stands the test of time and still sounds amazing. 

- JP Myers

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