Recently Purchased: Randy Newman's Early Words and Music


In the mid-and late-Sixties, before he became one of American pop's most compelling and acerbic singer-songwriters, Randy Newman was one of its most successful day-job tunesmiths, an L.A.-based one-man Brill Building who had no problem selling his mordant wit and twisted way with Tin Pan Alley conventions through other, often unsuspecting voices. Bless You California: More Early Songs of Randy Newman (Ace) — a delightfully dizzy sequel to the 2008 collection, On Vine Street: The Early Songs of Randy Newman (Ace) – shows Newman equally at home in Southern R&B (Irma Thomas' 1964 version of "Anyone Who Knows What Love Is [Will Understand]") truly alternative country music (the frontier-parlor ballad "Illinois" from the Everly Brothers' prophetic 1968 LP, Roots), arch flower pop ("Happyland" by Harpers Bizarre) and teenage candy corn (Peggy March's 1964 single "Leave Me Alone"). This album is likely to be the only one where you will find Ella Fitzgerald sassing it up with Newman's "I Wonder Why," followed by Alex Chilton, who sneaks in here with "Let Me Go," a steamy kissoff with Memphis-saloon piano cut with the Box Tops.

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David Fricke

Rolling Stone senior writer David Fricke has more than 10,000 albums in his New York apartment. His first record review for the magazine was Frank Zappa's 'Sheik Yerbouti' (RS 290).

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