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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Good old Randy, 15 Aug 2008
By 
G. E. Harrison (Cheltenham, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Good Old Boys (Audio CD)
"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.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Southern Gothic, 28 Dec 2009
By 
J. Jenkins (Dudley Port, England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Good Old Boys (Audio CD)
Randy Newman's 'concept album' about the deep south has none of the bloated excess that the term evokes. At 33:54 long, it's lean and certainly mean, a continuing exploration of the political injustice an personal turmoil he grappled with on previous album Sail Away. Here, though, he addresses these issues through the filter of the places, people and sounds of the southern U.S. states.

Opener Rednecks is perhaps Newman's greatest achievement, a song that operates on four or more different levels; brazen provocation; bleak history lesson; unstinting look at ingrained racism, stinging satirical broadside on the smug hypocricies of the northern liberal states. It's a song only Newman would write, and I don't think anyone else could even if they wanted to.

The album is full of Newman's trademark odes to outsiders, those most would dismiss as 'freaks' but who Newman treats with a typically unjudgemental eye. Not that he shies away from the more troubling aspects of their predicaments, either, whether he's using gallows humour to leaven the darkness, (Naken Man, A Wedding in Cherokee County) starkly presenting undiluted pathos, (Guilty) or using one as a fake out to get to the other (Back on My Feet Again).

The music throughout is gorgeous, full of fabulously evocative piano lines and rollicking choruses, and gilded with big band and ragtime touches that really give a sense of time and place. By the time you finish the album, you feel fully immersed, and also that you've learnt something about history. And how many albums can you say that about? I can only think of Drive-By Truckers currently doing something comparable.
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13 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars brilliance, pure brilliance, 8 Aug 2002
This review is from: Good Old Boys (Audio CD)
If you're planning on enjoying some brilliantly crafted classic songs jam-packed with humourous social commentary then 'Good Old Boys' is one of the best places to start looking. This album is a beautiful masterpiece full of tunes that will fill your head and words that will either make you cry or smile.
Take the wonderfully satirical opener 'Rednecks'. Newman's initial doorway to the American South to which the album owes such inspiration. Here the album is packaged alongside the original album of demos Newman set out for the record called 'Johnny Cutler's Birthday'. On this gem of a bonus CD the writer talks and walks us through the concept of the record and describes sights, sounds and atmosphere's of the places he can imagine being the perfect backdrop to his songs.
Dive into the deliciously pretty 'Marie', swim around in the country bop of 'Back On My Feet Again' and float through vivid social imagery of 'Birmingham' and 'Rednecks'. This album is special and manages to capture a true talent at it's peak.
The album features Newman's own orchestral arrangements showing that his bow is perhaps too small for the number of strings he has.
Well worth having in your collection. With this, 'Sail Away' and 'Little Criminal' you'll have everything you need to know about classic intelligent songwriting!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Good Old Boys, 1 Aug 2009
By 
D. BURNS (UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Good Old Boys (Audio CD)
I first heard this record some thirty years ago and was impressed. I Have re-purchased it in CD format and I continue to be impressed. The themes of the songs remain relevant, the lyrics are witty and the arrangements are great.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars 5 stars, 9 May 2011
This review is from: Good Old Boys (Audio CD)
Randy Newman..love him or hate him,there are no inbetweens..Perfect music for late night listening..funny,provacative,sad and always entertaining,this album in my opinion is Randy Newman best by a long shot..Worth buying!!
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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars bloody marvellous, 8 Feb 2002
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This review is from: Good Old Boys (Audio CD)
Good Old Boys, the zenith of Newman's fine career (so far at least), is an acerbic yet compassionate musical tour of the Deep South. He combines unequivocal condemnation of the bigots that blighted that region for so long with a deep empathy for the people living there - and does so with some of his best ever tunes. In short, a masterpiece of bittersweet songwriting.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Great Society, 20 Jun 2013
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This review is from: Good Old Boys (Audio CD)
There's something of the eternal about Randy's masterpiece Louisiana 1927. The short fat man going through the motions with a notebook in his hand foretells George dubbelyas complete indifference to the plight of New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina. Washed away like turds so they were and nobody gave a monkeys.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent record; excellent value, 10 April 2013
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This review is from: Good Old Boys (Audio CD)
The final version is much more impressionistic than the first version. Having the first version (Johnny Cutler's Birthday) to listen to gives a wonderful view of the creative decisions that went into it: what Newman left in, took out, did more with, did less with, what he wound up adding, how he changed the order.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Randy Newman great!, 13 Feb 2013
By 
R. Ellis "Ron" (Doncaster, Yorkshire) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Good Old Boys (Audio CD)
Brilliant album which I already own on vinyl. Highly recommended! Intelligent political and social commentary coupled with Newman's wit and beautiful arrangements
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Good Old Boys
Good Old Boys by Randy Newman (Audio CD - 2002)
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