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Neil Diamond Polishes Off New Album, Plans Tour

Neil Diamond, one of the most dependable touring acts in the music business, will return to the road in September to promote his first album of new material in four years, a spokeswoman said on Sunday.

The 60-year-old singer/songwriter, famed for such tunes as “Cracklin’ Rosie” and “Solitary Man,” will be promoting his new album “Three Chord Opera” which hits U.S. stores on July 24.

His arena tour of 31 North American cities will begin on Sept. 28 at Value City Arena in Columbus, Ohio, said Diamond’s publicist, Sherrie Levy. The tour is tentatively set to end on Dec. 21 at the Forum in Los Angeles, the first time he has played his hometown venue since four sold-out dates in December 1993.

Other dates include Oct. 8 at the United Center in Chicago, and Oct. 11 at Madison Square Garden in New York.

“Three Chord Opera,” released by Sony Corp.’s Columbia Records label, is Diamond’s first album of new material since 1996’s country-flavored “Tennessee Moon.” The new album is also the first written and composed solely by Diamond since 1974’s “Serenade.”

In a recent interview at his recording studio, Diamond told Reuters the album was a year in the making. “It was a day-by-day battle,” he said.

Album cuts range from “I Haven’t Played This Song In Years,” one of the bleakest songs of his 35-year career, to the upbeat, gospel-influenced “Leave A Little Room For God.”

Tour rehearsals begin “full-blast” on Monday, he said. His nine-man band will be supplemented by a horn section, and, for the first time, a small string section. He will revert to the traditional proscenium staging format, ditching the revolving stage that allowed him to play on arena floors.

Diamond’s last show was a New Year’s Eve concert in Denver in 1999. He was declared the top solo touring act of the 1990s by Amusement Business trade publication.

After the holidays, Diamond will tour Europe and Australia “and anywhere else that will take me.” After that, he will either keep on touring, or take time out to record another album or write songs.

In the meantime, Diamond is scheduled to appear on cable channel A&E’s “Live By Request” on July 28, when viewers will be able to call in song requests. A day earlier, he will perform on NBC’s “Today” breakfast show. Talks are underway for him to appear on “The Tonight Show With Jay Leno” in August.

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