Live by Randy Newman

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Live by Randy Newman
Live by Randy Newman

Album Released: 1971

Live ::: Artwork

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1.Mama Told Me Not To Come1:46
2.Tickle Me1:53
3.I'll Be Home2:40
4.So Long Dad1:41
5.Living Without You2:16
6.Last Night I Had A Dream1:43
7.I Think It's Going To Rain Today2:32
8.Lover's Prayer1:52
9.Maybe I'm Doing Wrong1:16
10.Yellow Man2:05
11.Old Kentucky Home1:33
13.Davy The Fat Boy2:48
14.Lonely At The Top2:16


Newman's one-and-only official live release was originally a radio promo played in front of an audience so minuscule you can make out most of their individual claps and voices.

It was a decidedly casual affair, as Newman frequently jokes around, and even asks for requests on occasion. This was such a lightweight affair that he didn't even bring a backing band with him - it's just him and his piano. That's not a terribly mind-bending concept since many of his songs were like that originally, but many of the heavily-orchestrated songs from his eponymous debut and a few of the rock'n'roll bits from 12 Songs are radically bare-bone here.

It's for that reason alone that many of his fans would want to pick this up. What better way to have a more intimate relationship with some of these lyrics than to strip away all the distracting orchestration? But I think the average person would miss the orchestration. Let's face it - Randy Newman isn't the finest melody-writer on the planet, and the orchestrations helped matters most of the time. That's most apparent in the slower-moving songs such as “Living Without You” and “I Think It's Going to Rain Today”. They weren't my cup of tea in their original incarnations, and they're even less exciting here.

If you're an Elton John fan, you're probably thinking about the very similar live album he released at the same time called 11-17-70. Even though I'd say thicker orchestrations benefit many of John's songs, that disc showed an exciting new side to him. When you think of Elton John, you think of some guy in a dopey costume playing a pretty ballad on the piano. But instead, 11-17-70 saw him working up a sweat and playing the piano like Jerry Lee Lewis. Randy Newman Live on the other hand, doesn't show us any exciting new sides to Randy Newman, apart from a generally jokey demeanor.

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

Consisting of fourteen tracks gathered from three consecutive live shows recorded in September 1970, Randy Newman Live isn’t exactly an essential album. Its main appeal lies in the simple execution of the songs, as this is just a laidback Randy and his piano in front of an audience.

The music sounds quite different from Newman's heavily-orchestrated debut, on which no less than 75 musicians contributed. By consequence, the five songs that are pulled from that album are the most interesting - devoid of the bombastic arrangements of their studio counterparts, they're a lot more digestible.

OK, I’m over-stressing the unsettling influence of the strings on that debut album a bit, but still, just compare the minimal solo version of “Living without You” or “Cowboy” to the studio versions. And the highlights from the debut, “I Think It’s Going to Rain Today” and “Davy the Fat Boy”, which were so dependent on their original terrific arrangements, still work well here, as Newman wallows in a silencing intimacy in the first, and a remarkable uneasiness in the second.

The songs from 12 Songs haven't changed that much. The highlights are a rushed version of “Old Kentucky Home” that sees Newman almost getting lost in the vocals, and “Yellow Man”, that he introduces as 'a kind of pinhead’s view of China'.

The five remaining songs weren’t released as studio tracks at the time this album was recorded. The best two - “Last Night I Had a Dream”, and the mocking “Lonely at the Top” - would wind up on the next studio album in very similar versions. The others are less interesting, but “Tickle Me” is delightfully silly, and the ultra-short (1:25) “Maybe I’m Doing It Wrong” is over before you realize it.

All in all, Randy Newman Live doesn’t offer anything stunning or particularly insightful, but it’s always interesting to hear a great artist toying around with the bare essentials of his craft.

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