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Another Side Of...,
This review is from: Born Again (Audio CD)Even amongst fans of Randy Newman 'Born Again' is a somewhat unloved album. Perhaps it is the cover - Newman in Kiss makeup as calculating executive. Or is it a certain coldness that pervades the album. The delicate strings of previous albums are relaced by subtle synthesiser arrangements. Songs such as 'Pretty Boy' and 'Mr Sheep' deal with thuggish bullies whilst 'They Just Got Married' is brutally economic.
Perhaps it is just the dire 'Pants'
Listening now the album certainly deserves reappraisal. From its brilliant opener - the New Orleans flavoured 'Its Money That I Love' with its rolling, stabbing piano through the moving picture of alienated old age 'Ghosts' and the sly 'Girls In My Life Part 1'.
'Story of a Rock'n'Roll Band' is a send up of the Electric Light Orchestra (though the joke is on the musically illiterate fan) and as such has dated a little, but much of it is still funny and the tune is catchy. In 'Pretty Boy' Newman adopts the persona of a street hoodlum taunting a newcomer (on another level the song could be a dig at Bruce Springsteen) - it is a fine song, whilst his impersonation of a bully on 'Mr Sheep' is almost too convincing. 'They Just Got Married' which again shows Newman's affection for New Orleans music could be a goodtime party track but for the cruelly indifferent lyrics.
Elsewhere special mention should go to 'William Brown' - a beautiful vignette encapsulating a life briefly and movingly.
Which brings us to 'Pants'. It opens promisingly enough with an ELP/Prog Rock parody - but nosedives into mere silliness thereafter. Am I missing something in this song?
This album has so many fine songs and where some of the targets appear a little obvious there is often another layer waiting.
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Initial post: 30 Jul 2008 12:12:04 BDT
Taking the parody to an extreme helps to underscore the strength of Newman's disdain for aimless pomposity and self-aggrandisement in rock music. The sheer pointlessness of the lyrical content ('the President can't stop me!') rams home the message.
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