Three Chord Opera marks the first time that Neil Diamond has written every song on an album since 1974's Serenade, and with this, the disc proves that the venerable pop artist still has a gift for cra

Three Chord Opera marks the first time that Neil Diamond has written every song on an album since 1974's Serenade, and with this, the disc proves that the venerable pop artist still has a gift for crafting pleasant melodies and words that are romantic without ever getting gooey. The sad truth is that many listeners may need to be reminded that before such later recordings as "Forever in Blue Jeans," Diamond created a vast catalog of such timeless gems as "Sweet Caroline." Such new numbers as the energetic pop/rocker "Baby, Let's Drive," the charming, piano-driven ballad "I Believe in Happy Endings," and the epic "I Haven't Played This Song in Years" are solid choices for AC radio, which should welcome Diamond back with open arms.—LF