The Boston Phoenix
December 18 - 25, 1997

[Jingle bell schlock]

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Neil Diamond



Half the appeal of Neil's deal, for me at least, is that he'll sing anything, no matter how corny it sounds or how silly he looks doing it, with absolute conviction. It's a trait he shares with other relics of pop's pre-ironic era -- Wayne Newton, Michael Bolton, Kathie Lee Gifford. But it comes in particularly handy for a Jewish guy from Brooklyn performing Christmas songs, and even writing one of his own. On this perfectly overblown 1992 disc, he doesn't just snack on little secular holiday novelties like "Jingle Bell Rock," he sinks his teeth into solemn Christmas classics like "Silent Night," "Little Drummer Boy," and, yes, "Hark the Herald Angels Sing." It's an utterly convincing performance, devoid of even the slightest hint of the kind of self-awareness that just gets in the way this time of year. And if his "You Make It Feel like Christmas" doesn't move you to chuckle just a little bit, well, then nothing's gonna brighten your December.

-- Matt Ashare
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