"Good old boys" is Randy Newman's marvellous 1974 'concept' album about the American South, where Randy himself spent much of his childhood. It sounds fairly similar to his previous album "Sail away" and explores some of the same themes - racism, corrupt government, loneliness, the futility of human existence - but with specific reference to the South. He also instructs us in Southern history with references to Huey P. Long - "Every man a king" and the Mississippi floods of 1927 - "Louisiana 1927" (even more relevant today after Hurricane Katrina), and comments on modern race issues - "Rednecks".
If all this sounds a bit dry, don't worry it's not, the songs all have wonderful sing-along melodies and great settings. Newman obviously has great affection for the South and for every criticism he makes he also points out the great beauty and charm of the place and its people, who are represented by his usual parade of eccentrics and misfits, particularly in "Wedding in Cherokee County". The themes are mainly dealt with on a personal level, as stories relating to one person/family but summing up the whole South, it's like looking through a telescope that scans the whole sweep of the South and then focuses in on one backyard in "Birmingham", Alabama. And it's all filtered through Newman's comic/ironic vision to keep you on your toes and question whether he actually means some of the things he says. He's backed by the cream of LA's session players, including Ry Cooder and John Platania on guitars, Willie Weeks, Red Callender or Russ Titelman on bass and Jim Keltner or Andy Newmark on drums.
This is a truly wonderful record that sounds great and at the same time is very moving and thought provoking. And it also contains probably one of the best songs he has ever written "Guilty", a masterpiece of low key/life understatement.