Neil Diamond Teams With Rick Rubin

Pop legend returns to songwriting roots on upcoming set

March 29, 2005 12:00 AM ET

Rick Rubin is hoping to do for Neil Diamond what he did for Johnny Cash. The producer -- who revived the Man in Black's career in the Nineties with the Grammy-winning American Recordings series -- has revealed to Rolling Stone that he is producing Diamond's next album, the follow-up to 2001's Three Chord Opera.

"I've always been a fan. We got to meet and talk, and it just kind of happened," Rubin says of the project, which he hopes will be out by year's end. "We've done all the basic tracks, and we're gonna go from there."

The record will mark a slight change in direction for Diamond, moving away from his recent, lavishly arranged crooner material to his stripped-down singer-songwriter style of the late Sixties. "This is more of a songwriter's album than a singer's album," says Rubin.

Diamond made his name almost forty years ago penning such anthems as "Kentucky Woman," "Sweet Caroline" and "Cracklin' Rosie." The Monkees scored a Number One hit with Diamond's "I'm a Believer" in 1966, UB40 did the same with "Red, Red Wine" in 1988 and Urge Overkill's rendition of "Girl, You'll Be a Woman Soon" was the leftfield hit from the Pulp Fiction soundtrack in 1994. Cash and Rubin worked up a cover of Diamond's "Solitary Man" for 2000's American III: Solitary Man.

Rubin hopes the record will underscore Diamond's reputation as one of pop's greatest songwriters: "He deserves it more than anyone."

Diamond is currently on tour in Australia. He will then travel to Europe before beginning a U.S. trek in July.

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