Neil Diamond Wrote My Hit!, Part 2: Deep Purple, “Kentucky Woman”
Neil Diamond (1967)
Deep Purple (1968)
For Reselect’s Cover Friday this week, we have Part 2 of my Neil Diamond covers series, this week featuring, as you may have guessed from the post title, Deep Purple. And what says “rock ‘n’ roll marriage made in heaven” more than Deep Purple and Neil Diamond. Well, maybe Barry Manilow and Black Sabbath, but we can only dream of such a thing. Not to compare Neil Diamond to Barry Manilow, of course — Neil could take Barry in a Death Match any day (and more importantly, for our purposes here, I also think he’s a better songwriter).
Anyway, to get back on track, Deep Purple took Neil Diamond’s 1967 hit single, “Kentucky Woman,” and bludgeoned the hell out of it in 1968 for their album, The Book of Taliesyn. Well, actually, it’s not as bad as I make it sound — it’s just a whole lot heavier. It was released as the main single from that album, with the hope that it would be a solid followup to their 1968 #4 smash, “Hush.” As it turned out, their “Kentucky Woman” only made it to #38.
Me, I prefer the relative lightness of Diamond’s version, pared down to a great-sounding acoustic guitar. The only touch of heavy to be heard is the drama of Diamond’s singing style, but that’s nothing compared to what Deep Purple’s Rod Evans does with it. Deep Purple plays “Kentucky Woman” like it was Mitch Ryder’s “Devil with a Blue Dress,” which results in a fairly enjoyable song, but the added bombast of Evans’ vocals and Jon Lord’s keyboards put the song a little too far over the top for my taste. Who’d have thought that Neil Diamond would be considered having the lighter hand? It’s not typically one of his strengths.