Randy Newman

While he’s better known these days as a composer of film music, singer-songwriter, arranger and pianist Randy Newman has been writing what might loosely be termed popular music since the early 1960s, with some of his early efforts recorded by Gene Pitney, Jerry Butler, Jackie DeShannon, Irma Thomas, Cilla Black and, most notably from Hughesy’s point of view, The Alan Price Set.

Simon Smith and His Amazing Dancing Bear was the first Newman song I recall hearing (there may have been others but recollection’s the key here). The Newman wit and clever wordplay meant I noted the release of his first album for Warner Brothers, 1970’s (Harry) Nilsson Sings Newman and Newman’s 12 Songs, but it was the press material that surrounded the release of 1972’s Sail Away and Randy Newman Live that prompted the first actual purchases. In my defence I’d point out that 1972 was the year I started teaching and, for most of the preceding eighteen month I’d enjoyed the princely income of -6 cents a fortnight and been reliant on a fortnightly $12 cheque from my parents. Not many album purchases possible under those circumstances.

1974 saw Good Old Boys join the collection, and through the Wilderness Years of the late seventies and through the eighties I picked up albums as I noticed their release, not entirely convinced that Little Criminals, Born Again, Trouble in Paradise and Land of Dreams were quite up to the standard of his earlier work. It was, I suspected, a case of energies going into more lucrative film work. Ry Cooder was, I thought, doing much the same thing.

1999‘s Bad Love was, I thought, a most welcome return to acerbic form, and Harps and Angels continued the upward trend and while I had misgivings about the reworking of earlier material on The Randy Newman Songbook Vol. 1 and The Randy Newman Songbook Vol. 2 (seriously, wouldn’t you prefer a whole new lot of Newman originals?) an immaculately recorded Newman solo on the piano was, I thought, as close as I was likely to get to Randy Newman Live In Your Living Room.

Since then, I’ve had the chance to see the man live in a symphonic setting (reviewed here), and given the fact that we’re not going to be able to fit a grand piano through the door of The Little House of Concrete that’ll probably have to do...


Randy Newman (1968)

12 Songs (1970)

Randy Newman Live (1971)

Sail Away (1972)

Good Old Boys (1974)

Little Criminals (1977)

Born Again (1979)

Trouble in Paradise (1983)

Land of Dreams (1988)

Randy Newman's Faust (1995)

Bad Love (1999)

Harps and Angels (2008)

Live in London (2011)


© Ian Hughes 2012