Saturday, January 28, 2006

Shilo (1968) – Neil Diamond

(Part One of the Mine Ears Have Heard The Glory of the Banging of the Drum tetralogy)

What makes this remembrance of an imaginary childhood friend so noteworthy? The exceptionally-recorded drums. In this regard, the re-recorded version which appears on Velvet Gloves And Spit/His 12 Greatest Hits is superior to the Just For You version (although Neil endearingly calling out “Shilo . . . Shilo. . . .” at the end of the earlier version is a nice touch not found in the later version. Yet another version of the song released as a single achieves a middle ground between the two). The left channel finds a crisp hi-hat foremost in the mix; sharing that confined space, the crack of a snare resonates while tom-toms cavort and scuttle. In the right channel, a tambourine briskly keeps time on the two-and-four. A piano, guitar and bass introduce the melodic hook, then part to carry out their customary functions.

Lyrically, “Shilo” finds a man reflecting upon his lot in life, consoling himself by revisiting his lonesome childhood. Ignored by his peers and neglected by his father, the child was left to dream up a playmate. This becomes the status quo in adulthood as a girlfriend eventually abandons him as well. He accepts the inevitable: a companionless existence . . . and a reunion with Shilo. Diamond’s vocals, tinged with a doleful whine, effectively elict empathy even from those who grew up with fulfilling personal relationships.

But back to those drums. They sit so prominently in the mix that they become the featured instrument. Spry fills discharged by session drummers are so rarely the main attraction in this day and age. God bless that session drummer.

  • Listen to "Shilo" and purchase from iTunes Music Store.
  • See also "Brooklyn Roads" (1968) – Neil Diamond
  • No comments: