Trouble in Paradise by Randy Newman

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Trouble in Paradise by Randy Newman
Trouble in Paradise by Randy Newman

Album Released: 1983

Trouble in Paradise ::: Artwork

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1.I Love L.A.3:29
2.Christmas In Cape Town4:21
3.The Blues3:01
4.Same Girl2:53
6.My Life Is Good4:38
8.Real Emotional Girl2:28
9.Take Me Back4:09
10.There's A Party At My House2:50
11.I'm Different2:33
12.Song For The Dead3:00


Randy Newman had completed his first full movie score in 1981, for the high-profile movie Ragtime starring Samuel L. Jackson, and it was the first of many soundtracks he would compose through the years. BUT! He wasn't quite ready to give up on his pop albums.

Four years after the release of the offbeat Born Again, he returns with a similar album, Trouble in Paradise. While it has its fair share of delightful moments, it unfortunately lacks the sheer inventiveness of Born Again. But it's still a good album (this is Randy Newman, lest you forget).

Anything with a song like “I Love L.A.” on it is good in my book. It starts out deceptively as a lounge-piano version of some sort of Christmas carol, but it quickly turns into an upbeat dance song about good old Lala land. Just like every Randy Newman song should be, it's catchy as heck, and the lyrics are funny yet somehow genuine. The instrumentation is nothing spectacular, but he creates a nice mix of rhythm guitars, buzzy synthesizers, and rockin' pianos. The best thing, of course, is his spirited vocal performance. You can't get those vocals from his movie soundtracks; that's for sure! (except for Toy Story, and he was the burning bush in The Three Amigos. Maybe there were some others).

You'll also notice that he's embracing popular trends here, and he does a very nice job for the most part. “The Blues” has a 1980's soft-pop quality to it, but the melody is excellent, so who cares if it's so cheesy that it would excite every mouse within a 10-mile radius of your speakers? He tries out some ska textures in “Take Me Back” - a really fun experience! Sure, it's not as serious as The Police, and that electric-organ tone is pure 80's, but he's having fun with it.

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

Randy Newman never ceases to crack me up. He’s always been a sardonic singer/songwriter, and he's pulled a few delicious pranks. On Born Again, he lambasted the Electric Light Orchestra in a not-so-subtle way, then subsequently hooked-up with the band’s leader (Jeff Lynne) to produce 1988’s Land of Dreams.

While his next album would see him delivering his first songs about himself, here Newman similarly mocks 'confessional' singer-songwriters on “The Blues”, a duet with Paul Simon (which is of course an extra bonus, because the petite half of illustrious folky duo Simon & Garfunkel was certainly considered a prime example of a 'whining song poet'). It’s a good song, but I don’t really get why it was chosen as the first single, not when there's stuff like “I Love L.A.” and “Christmas in Cape Town” lying around.

Like Springsteen’s grossly misunderstood “Born in the U.S.A.”, Newman’s obviously mocking “I Love L.A.” became an ode to the City of Angels, it was all over the media during L.A.'s hosting of the 1984 Olympics. Admittedly, Newman never says explicitly negative things about the city, but his intonation and the line Look at that bum over there - he’s on his knees are hard to ignore. On top of that, the streets he mentions (Century Boulevard, Victory Boulevard, Santa Monica Boulevard, Sixth Street) aren’t exactly L.A.’s finest spots (although I’m not wealthy enough to verify that).

On the subject of Springsteen ... during the smarmy self-satisfied “My Life Is Good”, The Boss gets mentioned, as the self-obsessed protagonist has him say Rand, I’m tired, how would YOU like to be The Boss for a while?. I’m not sure how to interpret this, but the supposed tiredness seems unlikely, since The Boss was on the verge of his world-wide breakthrough. The song also proves that Newman’s characters still have the capacity to make obnoxious comments such as This one guy’s wife is such a pretty little brown thing, that’s I’m liable to give her a poke or two, WHADDAYA THINK OF THAT?

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

Trouble in Paradise was the last of a string of seven albums that began with Newman's songwriting debut in 1968, after which he exclusively devoted himself to following the family tradition of scoring movies, with only a couple of albums of new songs released since 1983.

Newman's decision to take up writing movie scores rather than persist with his career as a singer/songwriter was in my view the right one, as - whilst his first five albums included many very fine compositions - his sixth Born Again only managed three gooduns, and the Law of Diminishing Returns had well and truly kicked in by this point, such that Trouble in Paradise is entirely devoid of what might be called 'Newman-esque' material, meaning that it doesn't possess any of the musical characteristics that made him such a distinctive voice in the first place.

Gone then, are the attractive piano-based melodies, along with the often charmingly pretty Southern-style string arrangements - best presented in Newman's first and most musical of movie scores, 1981's Ragtime - to be replaced by tuneless and loud heavy-handed rock arrangements, most evident on the album's first three cuts.

Gone too is Newman's admittedly somewhat limited yet distinctive singing style - on Trouble in Paradise, he merely barks his way through its so-called 'songs'. And as for his lyrics - well, he pretty much sheds any pretence that he's writing as some 'character' or other here - on the rather nasty "My Life Is Good" for example, he deliberately refers to himself by name, thus willfully identifying himself as the self-absorbed character with an over-inflated ego that he portrays in the song.

Insofar as they're more-or-less piano-and-voice only, the only tracks that bear any semblance to the Newman of old are "Same Girl" and "Real Emotional Girl", but even so they're really nothing more than undeveloped sketches, stuff that wouldn't have qualified even as filler on his albums from the 70's.

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by Reviewer: bluemoon