Harps and Angels (Remastered) Randy Newman
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- 1Harps and Angels05:06
- 2Losing You02:42
- 3Laugh and Be Happy02:19
- 4A Few Words in Defense of Our Country04:14
- 5A Piece of the Pie02:42
- 6Easy Street03:14
- 7Korean Parents03:26
- 8Only a Girl02:44
- 10Feels Like Home04:35
Info for Harps and Angels (Remastered)
In January 2007 the New York Times took the bold step of printing an abridged lyric of a then-unreleased song as an “opinion editorial” piece. It was Randy Newman’s A Few Words In Defense Of Our Country (sic) and it became an internet sensation, with Newman’s caustic wit gaining an unlikely but appreciative audience.
It set the scene for Newman’s first song-based record since 1999’s Bad Love. Harps & Angels is a tour de force of intellect and musicality. It has moments of hilarity (A Piece Of The Pie’s reference to Jackson Browne’s social conscience) that, like the most effective humour, deal with serious issues. Newman has never shied from confronting such matters, dealing with American identity, senile memory loss and foreign affairs with humour and a conversational ease, putting lesser songwriters to shame. A brace of ballads, Losing You and Feels Like Home, are tender moments reminding us of Newman’s way with bittersweet matters.
His film work has clearly stood him in good stead: there’s a theatricality here to many of the arrangements, with Dixieland dance interludes, Oriental flavours and a patriot’s choir among the elements vying for attention. Rating with the best of Newman’s work, let’s hope the wait isn’t too long for the next.
„Randy Newman always came across as an old crank even when he was an angry young man, so it shouldn't come as a surprise that he's flourishing as an old curmudgeon. Flourishing might seem to be an odd word to apply to an artist whose output slowed to a trickle after the release of 1988's Land of Dreams, but 1999's Bad Love found him reconnecting to his core strengths and its 2008 sequel, Harps and Angels, is its equal -- a lean, uncluttered, viciously funny collection of rolling New Orleans shuffles, movie musical moments, and the occasional tender love song. In many ways, Harps and Angels is a continuation of Bad Love, as it has a similar stripped-down production and many of the same lyrical themes, as Newman still is singing about America and aging, just as he was almost a decade earlier. This isn't stasis, this is consistency, as Newman has always relied on his misanthropic wit just as he's always relied on his love for Fats Domino and old Hollywood scores, and this familiar musical bed helps the new wrinkles stand out, whether it's the symphonic stabs that punctuate the near-death experience on the title track or using Jackson Browne as a punch line on "A Piece of the Pie." While its unadorned sound could be seen as a throwback to the early '70s -- especially with rollicking numbers like "Only a Girl" and "Potholes" recalling how 12 Songs could skip lightly -- Harps and Angels is quite explicitly an album of its time, as Newman confronts the age of George W. Bush directly with the merciless "A Few Words in Defense of Our Country" and "A Piece of the Pie," where he points out if you're "living in the richest country in the world/Wouldn't you think you'd have a better life?" In this context, Newman's heavy reliance on loping New Orleans rhythms almost seems like a defiant expression of solidarity with the Crescent City in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, but that's probably reading a little bit too much into it, as these bluesy shuffles are Newman's greatest comfort zone, the place where his slurred singing sounds just right and where his sardonic jokes richly resonate. It's his signature sound and Harps and Angels captures it sublimely, as the production -- a co-credit to Newman's longtime associate Lenny Waronker and his latter-day producer Mitchell Froom -- has no fancy accoutrements and he's written another set of quietly wonderful songs, ranging from the brutal satire of "Korean Parents" to the gentle, lovely "Feels Like Home." These days he may take his time writing songs, but when he delivers two albums as excellent as Bad Love and Harps and Angels back to back, it's hard to call it anything besides flourishing.“ (Stephen Thomas Erlewine, AMG)
Randy Newman, pianist
Steve Donnelly, guitar
Greg Cohen, bass
Pete Thomas, drums
Greg Leisz, pedal steel guitar, acoustic slide guitar
Mitchell Froom, keyboard, organ
Alan Estes, percussion
Gregory Goodall, percussion
Jo Ann Turovsky, harp
Allison Allport, harp
Frank Marocco, accordion
Recorded at Sunset Sound Studios in Hollywood and at The Newman Stage, Twentieth Century Fox Studios in Beverly Hills
Engineered by David Boucher
Produced by Mitchell Froom, Lenny Waronker
The recipient of two Academy Awards for Best Original Song, 20 Oscar nominations, six Grammy awards, and 14 Grammy nominations, Newman is a singular figure who over the course of his career has explored various styles and sounds of the canon of 20th-century American music.
A Los Angeles native, Randy Newman became famous during the 1960s and '70s for writing quirky, darkly funny, or sharply satirical songs detailing the lives of characters of his own making. This idiosyncratic style alternated between sweeping cinematic pop and rolling R&B, a style heavily influenced by time spent in New Orleans during his youth. After Randy Newman’s self-titled debut album was released in 1968, his reputation as a songwriter grew quickly, as Judy Collins, Dusty Springfield, Peggy Lee, Harry Nilsson, and Joe Cocker, among others, recorded his songs. Newman began a career as a film composer in the early 1980s. Among his film compositions are many kid-friendly songs, including Toy Story’s “You’ve Got a Friend in Me.”