This takes real moxie: Here's a guy who cut his teeth on acts like Slayer and System of a Down coaxing a stripped-down album of unadorned ballads out of a 40-year veteran considered by many to be the very embodiment of camp and schlock. Quite a bold move, even for a guy who once signed Andrew "Dice" Clay to a major label and convinced Johnny Cash to tackle the works of Depeche Mode and Nine Inch Nails.
Does it pay off? You bet. It's been more than 30 years since Diamond sounded as spirited and sincere as he does on "Delirious Love" and the smoldering "What's It Gonna Be," which find the savvy sexagenarian backing his familiar croon with a blistering slide guitar. So whether Rubin had to hide his singer's Geritol or subject him to indie-rock fruitcake Rivers Cuomo's strict diet of vipassana meditation -- the same new-age magic that produced "Beverly Hills"! -- he's accomplished the (almost) unthinkable: He's turned a sequin-shirted showman from the senior circuit into a relevant artist again. Score one for the Rick.