October 18, 1991 at 04:00 AM EDT


Current Status
In Season
Neil Diamond
Don Was
We gave it a C

There’s no rule that says soulfulness is an essential part of an album of love ballads, but boy, it sure helps: Neil Diamond’s been leaving home without it for quite a while. Lovescape, Diamond’s 32nd effort, is the latest in a string of colorless records, showing the middle-of-the-road superstar plowing very familiar ground. A half-dozen producers and studio bands have crafted the material, but it all sounds the same, from the synthesizer washes to Diamond’s bombastic voice. Not even producer Don Was, the man who did miracles with Bonnie Raitt on Nick of Time, or an all-star group of studio session musicians can lift the vague and unconvincing ”Wish Everything Was Alright” out of its doldrums. Lyrically, Diamond remains in Jonathan Livingston Seagull territory. ”Mountains of Love” looks at problems in South Africa and China. Diamond’s analysis: They just need a little love — ”…what we’ve plenty of.” There’s also a duet with Kim Carnes (”Hooked on the Memory of You”) that’s similarly mushy. ”Lie with me/Lay with me,” the pair sing, unwilling to commit even on a point of grammar. C

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