ARTIST: Randy Newman
TITLE: 12 Songs
YEAR RELEASED: 1970
CHART ACTION: None
SINGLES: Yellow Man
OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Mama Told Me Not to Come
LINEUP: Randy Newman, Clarence White, Ron Elliott, Ry Cooder, Lyle Ritz, Gene Parsons, Jim Gordon, Al McKibbon, Roy Harte, Milt Holland
WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: Newman, already known as a songwriter, records 12 of his songs (hence the title) in a more modern setting than his first album. It succeeds and gains him a smart new audience.
SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: Now, you know Newman for his incessant Pixar and Disney movie themes that are easily parodied. However, this album made him quite the figure among smart in-the-know people who appreciated a good sardonic tune or dozen.
The backing lacks all of the strings and pomp that graced his work earlier. It’s arranged simply – some songs have a country feel (especially when White is on board with his great stringbender guitar), others just a simple piano. Yet it’s the songs that hit.
The targets may seem easy now, the reliance on oil, men who are nincompoops, rural America, racisim; then they were on the cutting edge. This is Newman on the cusp of being the 70’s most important satiric songwriter.
NOTES & MINUTIAE: Three Dog Night made “Mama Told Me Not to Come” a hit, but Newman’s version has more bite.
IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: No
GRADE: A-: I found the arrangements good, but on some songs I wanted a fuller sound. Still, the songwriting is killer.