‘A Solitary Man’ is the latest in the Ace Records’ series that looks at the work of influential American songwriters of the 60s. This 24 tracker turns the spotlight on Neil Diamond who, before morphing into the performer of choice for people with little or no sense of musical adventure, was a jobbing song writer in New York City. Like all the other albums in the series, this isn’t a soul compilation per se, but like all the others it does contain a fair smattering of real soul gems – some very difficult to find elsewhere. Outstanding here is Arthur Alexander’s ‘Glory Road’. Recorded in 1970, it was originally issued on Sound Stage 7 and listening to it it’s easy to hear how Mick Jagger had aped Arthur’s vocal style and sound. Here the soul man sounds more like Mick than Mick himself! The set’s other soul standouts include the Four Tops’ version of ‘I’m A Believer’, Jr. Walker’s take on ‘Holly Holy’ and Bobby Womack’s cover of ‘Sweet Caroline’. Collectors will also be pleased with Tony Tribe’s version of ‘Red Red Wine’ and Jackie Edwards’ soulful treatment of ‘Girl, You’ll Be A Woman Soon’ (a hit, of course, for Gary Puckett and the Union Gap). Naturally, there’s lots of great 60s pop here too – notably Jay and the Americans’ ‘Sunday And Me’, the Box Tops’ ‘Ain’t No Way’ and BJ Thomas’ ‘Solitary Man’, while veteran doo-wop group, the Solitaires’ ‘Fool That I Am’ is a real collectors’ item.