The first of Newman's albums to contain all-new songs, Good Old Boys
is also widely known as his 'concept album about the South', with almost all the songs containing references to the South or are ‘told’ by Southerners. It may also be one of Newman's most cohesive albums, because the album really does sound like one long 33-minute musical to me.
From the ode to Birmingham, and the cabaret-like “Every Man a King”, to the bouncy “Back on My Feet Again” (that sees a few members of The Eagles on backing vocals), Good Old Boys
is a fascinating trip through Southern life, one that allows the listener to visualize his own story.
The story kicks off with the great trio of “Rednecks”, “Birmingham”, and “Marie” - it's the kind of quality start to an album every artist should aspire to. “Rednecks” is told from the perspective of a Southern racist, but somehow there’s something weird about it, as if he’s a puppet reading his lines: we talk real funny down here, we drink too much and we laugh too loud
, the two most offensive lines being we’re keeping the n*ggers down
and we’re rednecks, we don’t know our ass from a hole in the ground
. The use of pedal steel guitar adds an extra country twist to the song, and its further use in the chorus adds to the mocking tone of the song.
“Birmingham” on the other hand focuses on the 'healthy' incarnation of pride, as the song is a hymn to the town. “Marie” is a beautiful ballad, with lushly-arranged string parts, though one should keep in mind it’s a declaration of love by a man who’s drunk and who’s treated his Marie bad in the past. In spite of all that it’s one of Newman’s most endearing love songs.
by Reviewer: Guy Peters
(blogging at Guy's Music Review Site