Deep Dive: Randy Newman
Today we celebrate the birthday of Randall Stuart Newman, but you can call him Randy…or at least you can try. All things being equal, though, you’d probably get a far better response by addressing him as “Mr. Newman.” He might not be the kind of guy to reply, “Mr. Newman is my father, call me Randy,” but he is the kind of guy who might give you a withering stare and ask sarcastically, “Oh, are we on a first-name basis already?” Better to play it safe.
To commemorate this momentous occasion, we thought we’d offer up a few suggestions for albums from Newman’s considerable back catalog that you might have overlooked over the years, in case you’d like to spin something by this superior songwriter that’s at least new to you.
- RANDY NEWMAN (1968): It’s been said that Newman’s self-titled debut album sold so poorly that Warner Brothers actually offered consumers the opportunity to trade in their copy for another item in the WB catalog. We’d like to think that there’s no truth to this tale, but if it wasn’t apocryphal, then we’d hope that precious few folks took advantage of that opportunity, since any album that includes “I Think It’s Going to Rain Today” is an album worth keeping.
- BORN AGAIN (1979): Coming as it did on the heels of LITTLE CRIMINALS, the album which housed Newman’s biggest hit single, “Short People,” this LP ended up being heard by a lot fewer people than its predecessor, but that’s what happens when even the man who recorded it described it as “a weird album full of peculiar songs.” That said, it’s also an album which has remained all too undiscovered over the years and is well worth revisiting…or visiting for the first time! ELO fans will particularly enjoy – or maybe actively dislike – Newman’s “tribute” to the band.
- BAD LOVE (1999): At the time of its release, Newman hadn’t released a proper studio album in more than a decade, instead preferring to focus on his burgeoning career writing movie and television scores and – perhaps for a change of pace – a musical (RANDY NEWMAN’S FAUST). Although it wasn’t a commercial blockbuster, BAD LOVE was critically acclaimed,
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