Randy Newman by Randy Newman

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Randy Newman by Randy Newman
Randy Newman by Randy Newman

Album Released: 1968

Randy Newman ::: Artwork

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1.Love Story (You And Me)3:22
2.Bet No One Ever Hurt This Bad2:06
3.Livin' Without You2:23
4.So Long Dad2:14
5.I Think He's Hiding3:07
7.Laughing Boy1:59
9.The Beehive State1:52
10.I Think It's Going To Rain Today3:01
11.Davy The Fat Boy2:46


Randy Newman is better known nowadays for his plethora of film soundtracks rather than his album recording career, which commenced with this self-titled 1968 debut.

But after listening to this album, it's incredibly easy to see why he eventually began writing music for movies - he writes music that's very cinematic in nature. Instead of the usual 12-bar stuff or weirdo psychedelia that everyone else was recording at the time, Newman seemed to prefer writing music that's more rambling in nature, with extra emphasis on complex orchestral arrangements.

Naturally, Newman is famous as a piano player, and we get to hear some of that too. There's also a little bit of guitar and drums. But the emphasis here is on the cinematic arrangements, which are very impressive indeed! With that though, comes a problem ... not all these songs are 'catchy' in a way that audiences would respond to.

Nonetheless, this album is incredibly melodic, and filled to the brim with Newman's famous brand of lyrics, which can be witty, morose, bittersweet and/or sweet. Interestingly, he would abandon this style to produce more traditional singer-songwriter stuff on later albums, and as far as singer-songwriters go, it doesn't get a whole lot better than Randy Newman. He also comes off as so likable that you'd probably want him to join your family by the time the album's through. Sure, he gets depressed at times, but at least he's nice about it. He's not going to throw beer bottles at the wall.

The album opens with the incredibly sweet “Love Story”, which is about a young man in love. The first lyrics are I like your brother, I like your mother, I like you, and you like me too. The song begins with light simple piano before the fanciful string arrangements come in. Then the chorus brings in trembling violins with a heavy snare drum, which comes off as very cool. It should be mentioned these arrangements aren't just there to fill up space - they actually fit and accent the whirlwind of moods presented by the lyrics.

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by Reviewer: Don Ignacio (blogging at Don Ignacio's Album Reviews)

Newman’s debut album basically contains all the elements that would become distinguishing features of his entire output: short and (apparently) simple songs, a highly original (at the time) blending of Gershwin, Copeland, 1960’s pop, and ragtime, and prominent lyrical concerns (love, the cruelty people inflict upon each other, history and politics).

Indeed, Newman’s universe isn’t as rosy-colored as his oft-sweet (nearly corny) arrangements might suggest. He'd been around since the early 1960’s, when - as a teenager - he wrote songs for such people as Pat Boone, and The Fleetwoods, so it's no surprise this debut already sounds very accomplished.

Newman doesn't only take care of the songs, but also the baroque orchestral arrangements. And those arrangements are exactly what regularly spoil the fun for me ... there’s nothing wrong with them as such I guess, they're often a tasteful combination of Copeland-inspired 'lush' and movie scores (not surprising given Newman’s dad was a famous composer himself), nor is there anything particularly wrong with the production, handled by Brian Wilson’s former collaborator Van Dyke Parks, along with Newman’s childhood friend Lenny Waronker.

However, maybe the producers should be blamed, since there’s definitely something off in the balance between orchestral and non-orchestral parts and instrumentation. Newman’s songs are often very muted quiet affairs, and when that silence is suddenly disrupted by overwhelming strings, horns, and kettledrums, it’s quite unsettling.

“Love Story (You and Me)” for instance, a ‘life-in-200-seconds’ song, starts with a minimal piano melody and Newman’s half-croaking voice, then some strings come in. After that there's the chorus, then suddenly the entire orchestra jumps in. It’s a great song though, and quite compelling.

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by Reviewer: Guy Peters (blogging at Guy's Music Review Site)