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22 of 25 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Reasons To Be Cheerful x 10
Sound The Trumpet ! Bang The Drum !
Mr Newman's Back In Town !

It's almost a decade since the pointed and poignant
pleasures of 'Bad Love' filled The Wolf Cave with the
warts-and-all intimacy of its bitter-sweet strains.

Make no mistake - 'Harps and Angels' is music that matters.
Music which truly does make the world, in a small...
Published on 8 Aug 2008 by The Wolf

versus
6 of 10 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars I CAN'T BELIEVE I DON'T LIKE IT!
Big fan. Got all the albums. Got friends turned on to him. Became a disciple. Then an apostle.

When "Harps & Angels" came out I said to myself, "here's a disc I'll be listening to for the next 5 years, yeah!" (After all, Randy could hardly be called prolific.)

So I put it on. Again and again. And I couldn't help getting the feeling that...
Published on 22 Sep 2009 by Carlo Matthews


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22 of 25 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Reasons To Be Cheerful x 10, 8 Aug 2008
By 
The Wolf (uk) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (TOP 100 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Harps And Angels (Audio CD)
Sound The Trumpet ! Bang The Drum !
Mr Newman's Back In Town !

It's almost a decade since the pointed and poignant
pleasures of 'Bad Love' filled The Wolf Cave with the
warts-and-all intimacy of its bitter-sweet strains.

Make no mistake - 'Harps and Angels' is music that matters.
Music which truly does make the world, in a small but
tangible way, a better place.
It carries within it a vulnerability and jaded optimism born out
of a deep engagement with and understanding of his home country
and its' increasingly fragile place within a wider global context.

Whether in the big picture, 'A Few Words In Defence Of Our Country',
a sweet and savagely ironic song which the maestro has been playing
live for some time now, or in the small tender snapshot, 'Only A Girl',
Mr Newman's innate humanism is always present and warmly correct.

Dignity in the face of dissolution.

The big themes - growing older; ambivalence; love and family;
prejudice and injustice are all here, sewn together in a
tapestry of scintillatingly brilliant orchestral arrangements.
(The band is a real wonder !).

It will make you laugh out loud, 'A Piece Of The Pie' and
'Korean Parents' but it will also touch your heart, 'Losing You'
and 'Potholes' and in the end it may even just fill a small,
vacant, yearning space in your soul.

With the closing number,'Feels Like Home',we find ourselves frozen
in the presence of true greatness.
A heartbreaking performance of a profoundly beautiful song.

The Wolf's album of the year. I am confident it will not be bettered.

Essential.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Short and sweet, 13 Sep 2008
By 
S J Buck (Kent, UK) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)    (REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Harps And Angels (Audio CD)
I had to buy this new album as he's bound to play some of the songs at his only gig at the Royal Festival Hall in the UK in November. As always with Randy Newman theres a lot thats worth listening to here. On first listen its not an easy album to get to grips with. The orchestrations and arrangements (by RN) are full-on and to some degree make it difficult to listen to the all important lyrics. However after that first listen you will be caught up in the strange world of Randy Newman, and the arrangements add to the album as a whole, giving it a different sound and feel from his other albums.

Quite a few songs have the standard Randy Newman Piano shuffle and overall I felt there was more of New Orleans feel to this album. Lyrically its everything you'd expect from the man, i.e. completely unpredictable. Funny, satirical, moving, he switches from one to other without pause.

Its not quite as good as Bad Love or some of his earlier classic albums (Sail Away etc) and it is pretty short at 35mins, so I couldn't give it five stars. However don't be put off its still Randy Newman, which means its better than most new music out there, and its still highly recommended.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Hallelujah, 19 Jun 2013
By 
prisrob "pris," (New England USA) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)    (VINE VOICE)   
This review is from: Harps And Angels (Audio CD)
"Connoisseurs covet Randy Newman's Seventies work, when he emerged as one of the most cutting and empathic of American singer-songwriters. So his return to political-minded material is reason to wrap yourself in the flag and cheer." Will Hermes

Randy Newman in the first line of the first song of his latest CD 'Harps & Angels" asks "Hasn't anybody seen me lately?" Yes, Randy we have, and we love ya, but we have been waiting for this studio CD for nine years. Hallelujah, I Just Love Him So! Most of the critical reviews of this new CD are positively positive. A mixed bag, so to speak of Randy's best. He goes back to his New Orleans, Dixieland roots in this CD, a most personal journey. Some have called this CD a little black, but I call it a rainbow. It has something for everyone. Political, bruised Patriotic wit, mixed in with a peculiar immigration policy. He is vexed and grateful that he can still provoke us. One critic called this CD whimsy and that term suits this CD to a "T". It is glorious and bleak, happy and showy, thoughtful, full of irony and humorous. And, above, all Randy Newman intones an achingly beautiful ballad, 'Feels Like Home'. Try to listen to Randy croon this tune without tears coming to your eyes. Is this a love song to a person or to his country? Funny, rueful and simple, Randy Newman sings this tune straight.

"If you knew how lonely my life has been
And how long I've been so alone
And if you knew how I wanted someone to come along
And change my life the way you've done

It feels like home to me, it feels like home to me
It feels like I'm all the way back where I come from
It feels like home to me, it feels like home to me
It feels like I'm all the way back where I belong."

Randy Newman is at his best when he is playing his music in a concert before a room of adoring fans. And, that is exactly the feel of this CD. Whether we came to Randy Newman because of his film scores or because of a love for his satires, political or not, you will not be disappointed. Randy sings to us in these ten songs of a loss of our American country as we knew it. The present administration may not be as bad as Cesar or Stalin, but its the worst we have seen. We have hope, we are not dead nor dying, in fact we have much to do. Randy throws us a Dixieland curve and sings of loss of a love, finding of a new love, the waste of memory on old age, the loss of deliverance of Patriotism by Jackson Browne and I like Jackosn Browne, the story of immigrants and how those of us living in the richest country in the world should expect more. And, then, finally Home, "Feels Like Home', one of the loveliest of songs. It has become my favorite and will certainly become a cover for every romantic singer.

Randy Newman moves from Tom Lehrer to Tom Waits. He may sound full of despair at times, but his soul searching moves on to love, joy and hope.

Highly, Highly Recommended. prisrob 06-19-13
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Genius Music for grown-ups, 12 Nov 2008
By 
Leonardo27 (London United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Harps And Angels (Audio CD)
You can't dance to it, it isn't remotely cool and it's by a man in his sixties with a strained, nasally voice. And it's great.

After four decades of writing and releasing music - albeit with some extended intervals - this new album stands to be compared favourably with the best Newman has ever produced.

In songwriting terms, "genius" is a much overused and devalued expression, regularly applied these days to anyone who can muster three basic chords along with a grasp of kindergarten English. In reality, few songwriters can match Newman's genius: Bob Dylan and Tom Waits come to mind; beyond that you're already struggling.

If there's a criticism, it's that at 35 minutes it's far too short when he's clearly on such fine form. But somehow Newman still runs the entire gamut of emotions from the cynical "A Few Words In Defense Of Our Country" to the pathos of "Losing You". And the music is as elegiac as ever. Brilliant.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Another Newman Treat, 6 Aug 2008
By 
Angel Delta (Southsea Hants) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)    (VINE VOICE)   
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This review is from: Harps And Angels (Audio CD)
As soon as you hear the opening bars of Newman's rolling New Orleans piano you know you're in for another musical treat. Heavily influenced by Fats Domino, Tin Pan Alley and Dixieland his musical style allows no concessions to fashion but his great trick is to let the music accommodate and absorb his sardonic view of the world in general and the USA in particular.

Reserving much of his barbed wit for the Bush administration he does at least remind us, "In A Few Words In Defense Of Our Country" that George is not as bad as the Caesars, Hitler, Stalin or King Leopold of Belgium who plundered the Congo of gold, silver and diamonds and left the natives with...... malaria!

Then there is "A Piece Of The Pie" where "If you are living in the richest country in the world/wouldn't you think you'd have a better life" and observes that only Jackson Browne gives a sh*t.

In "Korean Parents" he shares his satirical view that American adolescents would have fewer problems and be less dangerous if they were brought up by Korean parents who seemed to have the necessary skills well honed which has a resonance with Asian parents in our own country.

But there are gentler numbers such as "Feels Like Home", "Only A Girl" and "Losing You" proving that Randy still has a sentimental side.

Produced by lifelong friend, Lenny Waronker, this album, his first studio effort in 9 years, has all of the strengths associated with Randy Newman: lush arrangements, full orchestral sounds, musically and lyrically astute songs, his shuffling, bluesey delivery and that wonderful stride piano.

Visited by Harps and Angels as he almost dies (due to a clerical error!) he says: "So actually the main thing about this story is for me/there really is an afterlife/and I hope to see all of you there/Let's go get a drink."

Amen to that, Randy.
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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars On a cloud passing you soon ...well worth keeping an eye out for., 7 Aug 2008
By 
russell clarke "stipesdoppleganger" (halifax, west yorks) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Harps And Angels (Audio CD)
This is a review written by someone who tends to dip randomly in and out of Randy Newman's work so cannot be classed in any shape or form a Newman-phile. In truth I tend to find a lot of his work a tad too fussy and ornate for my taste , yet the universal positive reviews for Harps And Angels drew me in and I'm glad they did for this is, in the main ,a hugely enjoyable album . And being Randy Newman it has a lot to say about America as well and says it with his usual verbose wit and eloquence.
Most of Harps & Angels, like much of Newman's back catalogue is wonderful, if austere, whimsy. His excellent backing band, comprising producer Mitchell Froom on keyboards, Attractions drummer Pete Thomas, virtuoso jazz bassist Greg Cohen, veteran session guitarist Steve Donnelly and pedal steel player Greg Leisz, collaborate with a fulsome orchestra to produce country ballads, Dixieland balladry, oriental pop and even one song- "Laugh And be Happy"- that sounds like a 1930,s show tune, though I ,ve got to confess it's too capricious for my taste.
The title track is a jazzy piano led a tale of a man who believes he's drawing his last breath but us told by a celestial being that "Someone very dear to me has made another clerical error " . "Losing You " is a sumptuous ballad about bereavement that shows that Newman sticking to the simple things is probably the best thing of all. There is also the lovely closing track "Feels Like Home"( which first appeared on 1995's "Faust: Original Soundtrack", sung by Bonnie Raitt, and has since been covered by Emmylou Harris and Chantal Krevaziuk, among others) where his voice is really stretched to it,s limits. I also love "Korean Parents " , which far from being racist recommends that children be brought up by immigrant parents who are far more like likely to make a decent job of it. The oriental arrangement is beautifully observed.
Probably the most amusing track is "A Few Words In Defence Of Our Country" is a pedal steel enhanced errr defence of America , though that defence is basically constructed around the argument that "Now the leaders we have / While they're the worst that we've had/ Are hardly the worst this poor world has seen.". Now saying that Dubya and his neo -cons aren't quite as bad as the Caesars and King Leopold is a flimsy argument as I,m sure is the point but is also none the less funny.
Elsewhere he rails against the erasing of memory by age on the swaggering pomp of "Potholes" and on the overly frilly but comical "Piece Of The Pie" he fulminates against inequality in the U.S. but because "Bono,s off in Africa -he's never around" the country's saviour is Jackson Browne. "Easy Street" is a nice lugubrious swinging number and contrasts with the finicky arrangement of "Only A Girl" .
Where this sits in the whole pantheon of Randy Newman releases, well you will have to ask someone else . But of what I have heard this rates pretty damm high. Only "Sail Away: Remastered & Expanded " , "Land of Dreams" and "12 Songs" are on a par with Harps And Angels.On a cloud passing you soon. Watch the skies , keep looking .. The neck ache will be well worth
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23 of 29 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars STUNNING!!, 1 July 2008
By 
Boswell (Cheshire UK) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Harps And Angels (Audio CD)
Randy Newman has surely made one of the great musical comebacks. Harps and Angels is one of THE albums of the year and one of the best albums of his fantastic career! Its full of the witty songs that he's renown for. "A Few Words In Defense Of Our Country" is up there with the best he's written,"Losing You" is an achingly beautiful song,"A Piece Of The Pie" goes straight for the jugular whilst "Feels Like Home" is the definitive version. This short (35 minutes) album is an absolute winner. Buy it, sit back and enjoy one of the worlds great songwriters at the top of his form!
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5.0 out of 5 stars Ren's review, 25 Feb 2010
By 
R. J. Stimpson "Ren" (Kettering , England) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Harps And Angels (Audio CD)
I just love this guy's music. A thoroughly professional rendition combining his great piano playing skills with creative lyric writing. Totally unique style and very difficult to reproduce because most of it is syncopated which is largely why it is so original. I suspect most of this cd was done off the cuff and in one take. I have this man on vinyl from the early 70's and he is still the same top class performer. The last track is the best and its the one from the tv ad entitled 'Feels like Home' but is just a superbly written love song and you just know this man was in love with the woman he wrote it for and he didn't produce it for the money.
Absolutely top class singer/songwriter.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Prowling his constituency again....., 14 Aug 2008
By 
A. Macpherson "Phoenix" (Kilchoan, Ardnamurchan, Scotland) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Harps And Angels (Audio CD)
Randy's back...prowling his constituency with laser wit, astringency and poignancy; delivering three minute vignettes of the present American landscape that make you wince, laugh and cry. A master craftsman in iron control of his material. With Randy back it certainly "Feels like Home."
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I can't believe you don't like it either, 17 Feb 2011
By 
George McLean "Seoras" (Glasgow, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Harps And Angels (Audio CD)
Loved every warm, cold, funny, poignant lyric and the tunes are stunning.
Been crying like a baby along with 'Feels Like Home'. Laughing along with 'A few words...' and generally wallowing in Randy's wonderful delivery. Best buy in ages.
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Harps And Angels
Harps And Angels by Randy Newman (Audio CD - 2008)
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