Done Too Soon
He Ain't Heavy ... He's My Brother
I Am the Lion
Soolaimon (African Trilogy II)
Neil Diamond was a restless man in 1970. Not content with success as a singles artist, he was determined to create extended works that went beyond typical pop restrictions. Tap Root Manuscript reflected this desire — or, to be precise, half of it did. Side One featured self-contained tracks like “Cracklin’ Rosie” (a carefree ode that sold a million copies as a single), “Done Too Soon” (an uplifting meditation on mortality) and an emotive cover of “He’s Not Heavy… He’s My Brother.” Diamond delivers these tunes with his usual gravitas and vigor. Side Two was devoted to “The African Trilogy,” a song-cycle touching upon Biblical themes within a tribal musical context. Combining African string and percussion instruments with gospel choirs, Diamond moves from childlike playfulness (“I Am The Lion”) to mature reverence (“Missa”). The centerpiece of the trilogy is “Soolaimon,” a stirring celebration of the Spirit delivered with revivalist fervor. Diamond continued to refine his symphonic pop ideas as the decade wore on, but Tap Root Manuscript caught his artistic ambitions at their freshest and most joyful.