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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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Song Stories

“Whoomp! (There It Is)”

Tag Team | 1993

Cecil Glenn — a.k.a., "D.C." — was a cook at Magic City, a nude dance club in Atlanta, when he first heard women shout "Whoomp — there it is!" Inspired by the party chant, he and partner Steve "Roll'n" Gibson wrote a song around it. Undaunted by label rejections, they borrowed $2,500 from Glenn's parents and pressed 800 singles, which quickly sold out in the Atlanta area. A record deal came soon after. Glenn said the song was meant for positive partying. "If you're going to say 'Whoomp there it is,' and you're doing something negative, we'd rather it not have come out of your mouth."

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