Personnel includes: Neil Diamond (vocals); Dolly Parton (vocals); Bob Mann, Dean Parks (guitar); Bill Bergman, Brandon Fields, Greg Smith (saxophone); Oscar Brashear (trumpet); Dennis Farias, Wayne Bergeron, Nicholas Lane, Don Markese (horns); Bill Payne (piano); Jim Cox (Wurlitzer electric piano, Hammond B3 organ, bass); Robbie Buchanan (piano, keyboards); Larry Klein, Bob Glaub (bass); Carlos Vega, Russell Kunkel (drums); M.B. Gordy (tympani, vibraphone); Mike Fisher (percussion); Mary's Danish.
Recorded at Conway Studios and Arch Angel Recording Studios, Los Angeles, California and AIR Studios, Lyndhurst Hall, London, England. Includes liner notes by Neil Diamond.
UP ON THE ROOF: SONGS FROM THE BRILL BUILDING contains music written by songwriters who worked in the Brill Building located in the heart of New York's music industry center Tin Pan Alley. Getting his start in The Brill building himself, Neil Diamond pays to tribute to other Brill Building artists including Carole King, Ellie Greenwich, Jerry Leiber, Mike Stoller, Neil Sedaka Otis Blackwell, Phil Spector, Burt Bacharach and Carole Bayer Sager.
This is Diamond's equivalent of, say, one of Barbra Streisand's Broadway albums. Come to think of it, it's Broadway that Diamond is returning to as well; specifically, the corner of 49th Street, where he and many others turned out songs for music publishers. Some of these songs were written there; most were only in the spirit of that modern Tin Pan Alley. Handling the work of his then-rivals, such as "Spanish Harlem," "A Groovy Kind of Love," and "River Deep -- Mountain High," Diamond adopts his usual hammy style (he always sounds like he thinks he's a much better singer than he is). Peter Asher patented a neo-'60s production style in crafting oldies for Linda Ronstadt in the '70s, and he does the same thing here, which is only to say that the album is not as overproduced as some of Diamond's recent albums, not that Asher's versions are any competition to Phil Spector's originals. Actually, this record sounds exactly like you would expect it to: just call to mind a familiar song like "Will You Love Me Tomorrow" and imagine what it would sound like if Neil Diamond sang it. While this is clearly a holding action from the point of view of Diamond's recording career, fans can decide for themselves whether it's valid and, perhaps more problematic, necessary. You pays your money... ~ William Ruhlmann