Randy Newman - The Randy Newman Songbook Vol 1

For this first album on Nonesuch Records, Randy Newman releases the first of three volumes of solo re-recordings of material from his thirty plus years career. To the uninitiated, Newman as explained by a contestant on BBC1's Mastermind recently, unusually writes some of his songs in character. For instance playing the role of the racial bigot in America deep south on the track "Rednecks Keepin the N*ggers Down" or "Political Science", originally recorded in 1972 which advocates America dropping 'the big one' and destroying the rest of the world, expect Australia because 'they got surfin too'.

Maybe in the interests of balance on the "Great Nations Of Europe" he advises the inhabitants of the soon to be colonized Third World that "They got TB and typhoid and athletes foot, Diphtheria and the flu. Excuse me - great nations coming through".

All the performances on this album just feature Newmans vocals and piano playing which is excellent and in many places is influenced by his home town of New Orleans - the home of many great pianists. If you are unfamiliar with Newman's work this is as good an introduction as anything else. You may know some of his songs unwittingly, for Dusty Springfield covered "I Think Its Going To Rain Today" on her classic "Dusty In Memphis" album. And of course Tom Jones "You Can Leave Your Hat On" from The Full Monty is here restored to it's original depiction of sexual fetishes.

Derek McCann

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