Beyond the 130: Randy Newman

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Osgood
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Beyond the 130: Randy Newman

Postby Osgood » 15 Jun 2015, 13:31

(I am covering only the regular albums, not the soundtracks)

I think this was the song that made me a Randy Newman fan.





I mean, I knew some of the hits and had heard without paying so much attention a couple of records. But listening to this and wondering “Why Dayton, Ohio? Why 1903?“ made me notice the ability that I appreciate the most of him: how he is able to make a statement, tell a story or drawing a scenario with just a couple of brush-strokes, and with tiny songs that quite often clock in the two minute range, same as most of his records are in the 30 minute area. Another example of his less-is-more attitude can be found in the title track of the same album




Also in this horror movie told in a few lines




Similarly this beautiful song where the horror is latent and only faintly suggested in the end



or his ironic statements on bigotry





or American politics





Very often Newman impersonates a character, sometimes to mock stupid attitudes



even if it means impersonating God



sometimes to recreate a disgusting character




and sometimes to show there is a side to consider in anything, like in this song highlighting hypocrisy about racism



Besides there is always the music, his craft in building complex arrangements around his ever present piano might not be for everybody’s taste, but sometimes it works great, like in this funny song about the aging rocker, where the arrangement variations seem to suggest (again with few brush-strokes) the passing decades



(the lines “Each record that I'm making Is like a record that I've made Just not as good” are amongst my favourites ever)



I guess most of you are familiar with his oeuvre, at least partially, but anyway if somebody asks about how to approach it, I would classify his albums as follows:

Masterpieces:
Sail Away, Good Ol’ Boys

Essential:
Nilsson Sings Newman (a Randy Newman album in all but the singing, with some of the best versions of his songs), 12 Songs, Little Criminals, Bad Love

If you’ve got this far you’ll also want:
Trouble in Paradise, Harps and Angels, and the two volumes of the Randy Newman Songbook with versions on voice and piano only.

Even if they feature great songs you can live without:
S/T – mainly marred by his trying too hard to show how good he can write orchestral arrangements
Land Of Dreams – its 80s production seems awfully alien to Newman’s world
Born Again – his weakest songwriting





Of course Dayton Ohio was the hometown for the Wright brothers, and 1903 the year of their first flight. How this relates to the song lyrics is up to you to decide.


(apologies for any mistake in my English)
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fire and fueryIre
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Re: Beyond the 130: Randy Newman

Postby fire and fueryIre » 15 Jun 2015, 13:36

The great thing about Rednecks is that it works on several different levels. On one level it's about racist attitudes in the deep south and on another level its about the condescending way the southern states are perceived/dismissed by Northern liberals.

Off to see him in Dublin in late Oct, can't wait. One of the few people I really want to see (Nick Lowe and Boz Scaggs being two others I can think of off the top of my head)
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Davey the Fat Boy
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Re: Beyond the 130: Randy Newman

Postby Davey the Fat Boy » 17 Jun 2015, 15:53

Nilsson Sings Newman and 12 Songs probably belong in the "masterpiece" category.
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Re: Beyond the 130: Randy Newman

Postby NMB » 17 Jun 2015, 17:02

Coan's Poison Piss wrote:Nilsson Sings Newman and 12 Songs probably belong in the "masterpiece" category.


I heard Nilsson Sings Newman for the first time this week and I didn't care for it much, to me the songs sound much better when sung in Randy's own sardonic voice. But it might grow on me. It's only 26 minutes long so it won't take long to give it another go.
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Davey the Fat Boy
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Re: Beyond the 130: Randy Newman

Postby Davey the Fat Boy » 17 Jun 2015, 17:24

NMB wrote:
Coan's Poison Piss wrote:Nilsson Sings Newman and 12 Songs probably belong in the "masterpiece" category.


I heard Nilsson Sings Newman for the first time this week and I didn't care for it much, to me the songs sound much better when sung in Randy's own sardonic voice. But it might grow on me. It's only 26 minutes long so it won't take long to give it another go.


Listen with headphones. It is a sonic marvel, but you have got to give it the same kind of attention you would give ambient music, or something like that.

I would probably include it in my five favorite albums ever - but it even took me a while to get.
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Osgood
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Re: Beyond the 130: Randy Newman

Postby Osgood » 17 Jun 2015, 19:03

Coan's Poison Piss wrote:Nilsson Sings Newman and 12 Songs probably belong in the "masterpiece" category.


I wouldn't argue with that. Certainly not for 12 Songs.
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Re: Beyond the 130: Randy Newman

Postby NMB » 22 Jun 2015, 12:34

Coan's Poison Piss wrote:
NMB wrote:
Coan's Poison Piss wrote:Nilsson Sings Newman and 12 Songs probably belong in the "masterpiece" category.


I heard Nilsson Sings Newman for the first time this week and I didn't care for it much, to me the songs sound much better when sung in Randy's own sardonic voice. But it might grow on me. It's only 26 minutes long so it won't take long to give it another go.


Listen with headphones. It is a sonic marvel, but you have got to give it the same kind of attention you would give ambient music, or something like that.

I would probably include it in my five favorite albums ever - but it even took me a while to get.


You were right, on headphones it's a different beast. There were a couple of places where Nilsson belts things out with a bit too much Broadway flavour for my tastes but I'm definitely warming to it.
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Six String
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Re: Beyond the 130: Randy Newman

Postby Six String » 22 Jun 2015, 15:35

The only album missing from the essential list for me is the live album from around the same time as 12 Songs. It features many of the songs on the studio collection so that would make it less essential but not imo. His first album deserves a second tier rating as well.

Another recording worth seeking out is a dvd of Randy Newman at the Odeon with cameos by Linda Ronstadt and Ry Cooder. It's just Randy and the piano playing his songs in front of a small audience.

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Re: Beyond the 130: Randy Newman

Postby Rayge » 15 Jan 2018, 19:51

bump
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