Thursday, January 5, 2017

Sail Away - Randy Newman

So I am using this month to finish up some albums that can be finished either fast, or are in various stages of completion and are..... Basically I'm cleaning out my draft folder on the site. That doesn't mean I'm shitting out reviews, I am just doing ones I know I don't need to spend as much time on or i have spent the time and just need to type it out. The album I picked first is this. This is the only, besides possibly Trouble in Paradise, Randy Newman record I'll ever review. The reason being I like the title track and Political Science.  That's really the only reason, I guess that and to give this maybe another chance, considering how much I love PS. And honestly, that the only reason to do this review. Oh yeah this is album number 4th studio album.
  1. Sail Away: For this record, I feel this to be a great tone setter and terrific open to the record. It's got that wit, and the cynic inside me loves the tone. So basically this song's story is a slave trader talks to the slaves, on the boat, about how great America will be and all the great things that lie ahead. The one thing he decided to leave out, is the fact they won't get any of those opportunities because they are slaves. Kinda dark, he doesn't have an aside or anything, he just withholds that part. It makes you think a bit, I wonder if they actually did that to make the slaves less irritable or more willing to submit. I don't know, and you probably don't either (we weren't there). But still, if a song can make you think, and not about something stupid, Damn! Man I wish I came up with that. The strings on this thing are great and it just feels American, it feels like it could fit in as a Nationalist type song, though it's not really. I don't know, I just know I love it. Also Ray Charles actually did a solid more gospel inspired cover of this tune, which I'm not sure if I prefer to this version, off his 1975 record Renaissance. If I do a review of that I'll go into more detail about the song, on the Ray side of things. 
  2. Lonely at the Top: Hahaha, this was written for Sinatra. I do quite like the creeping feeling of this song. There is also a cabaret feeling to the song, if I'm not mistaken. I think this works, unlike that one song... *cough* Who Needs the Young *cough*. I wish I had more to say, but I do quite like this track and think it works for what it is. Plus this is some what smarter than some of the other songs Sinatra would sing. And it doesn't seem that pityful. I mean I like No One Cares and other tracks like that, but look at that cover.
  3. He Gives Us All His Love: Originally written for a movie, and I don't think the joke works unless you have the back story. Unlike God's Song or Sail Away this is not as clear what its about. In the movie they were saying this and it was kind of point out the foolishness of believing. I don't really know how to explain it without you looking it up or making it sound like I don't believe in God. I do, but I love this song. It has a very strong standard feeling and I think it should be. While the lyrics are simple its kind of supposed to be. 
  4. Last Night I Had a Dream: There is a slide guitar, played by Ry Cooder, present. This is a solid song, but his vocals remind me of what I think he's funny to laugh at. But this is an odd enough rocker that I think if someone else did it it'd be fucking phenomenal. Maybe someone with a larger range of vocals. Really everything else works here. I love the guitar ton, the building feeling and the anticipation I feel in my blood when the song builds to the chorus. This is also a rocker.
  5. Simon Smith and the Amazing Dancing Bear: This song is about a guy who, by use of dancing bear. There's more to the story, but I feel like this has a sort of fun feeling to the song. The piano playing is very impressive and I like the changes in rhythm. While its not as grand as I could picture it, or rearrange it in my head, it is solid. I'm not completely sold on the track, but I do enjoy it. I really think the worst part of the song is the vocals, there's a part at the end that hurts my ears. Also I guess its a bit of a let down that there aren't other instruments like horns or woodwinds and strings. That would certainly add to the track. 
  6. Old Man: I assume this is about an old man or his old man. I think ths song is a pretty sad song, and I has to have some personal meaning to it. There is something in the inflection if his voice where it sounds like a child singing to his father who is on his death bed. Honestly I could see this being a Sinatra, the string arrangement is beautiful enough to be on In the Wee Small Hours or another of his best records/ballads. There is something's very touching about this and the sole piano and vocals for one verse then the next having strings makes it more effective. I read somewhere he said after his father passed, years later, he revisited this song and pictured his father. Its funny because I hvemmave written songs where they either came true or they were more insightful of my ownself than I could have imagined. 
  7. Political Science: Quick, straightforward and to the point, possibly Newman's best song. Really, another hit to Americas ego. This is how good Rednecks should be, but it isn't. This song makes me laugh more and more with each listen. There is a sort of Toy Story feeling tie this track, but I like this a lot. I cove the brushes and the horns that are in the background. A favorite part of mine is the Australia part. This really is a phenomenal track and the ending gets big and just works so fucking well. Great, funny, and on point.
  8. Burn On: and on and on and on and on and on. This is a very piano oriented in the beginning and it has this weird cabaret feeling to it. Then the other instruments come in and I really like the um pa feeling I'm getting form the arrangement. The string/woodwind/brass arrangement on this is spectacular. Honestly I can't find flaw in it. It really is a fucking great track and I think his vocals even work well for this track. This is a pretty silly feeling song but I am pretty sure there is a son what deeper meaning. Maybe it was a topical song about Cleveland like Baltimore
  9. Memo to My Son: I am surprised that I would love this thing, but I do. There is a sort of country vibe to this track. I can't exactly point my finger on what to call it but I do quite like it. It has a sort of honky tank piano and a rocking back and forth feeling. Like I could see this being in a movie from the 70s, maybe in a sort of flashback sequence. Or it could be the theme to a TV show about a single dad who has a son. It has a sort of sentimental feeling too it. I don't have a really reason why but I just can. There is also for whatever reason, Eagles pop in my head.
  10. Dayton, Ohio - 1903: You know, this title pisses me off. It's not a bad song, it's actually quite sad, but it's also a sort of predecessor to Baltimore. This is a very mellow song and it kind of reminds me of Short People if it was depressed. I don think its that great, but it aint half bad. I could see it being in a movie or something when its someone pondering something maybe. He isn't the greatest player but he is far better than I. 
  11. You Can Leave Your Hat On: I never liked this title, that's not saying the sing it self is bad. Just my feelings of the title. There is a sleezy feeling to this song, but I kind of like that. I like guitar in this and the sort of bar band feeling with the piano. Like a sort of piano blues feeling to it. Though I woukdnt say its exactly like Eddie Boyd or someone like that. Its nice and it is not half bad. I like guitar on the track or whatever is playing that sort of motif in the verses. The bass? I don't know for certain but the only real complaint is it goes a bit long for what actually happens in the song and looking at the length of the other tracks. 
  12. God's Song (That's Why I Love Mankind): Funny idea, but I guess I feel like this is pretty dark. Its kind of like God does these horrific things to us, but we still love him. I understand that its probably pointing out people are foolish but I think its worth pondering. I also think the music is perfect for this and its a great opposition to the opening. The opening was much more cheerful and hopeful, in feeling not message. This is just a dreary and kind of straight forward song. Like it is kind of fucked to imagine like God just doing stuff to fuck with us because he doesn't actually care. I mean I myself don't think people should find value in themselves to the point if them being above someone else, but there is a part of me that makes me feel like yeah. I don't really think God owes us anything. That's a bit of a way off front the song. But the music is phenominal and his singing works very well. A great track that grows with each listen. 
Overall I have to give this album a 8/10. I don't care for Randy, his albums are structured in a similar way and his music is very samey. There are some songs here that are okay, but most are average or boring elsewhere in his discography. But the upon meditation, and the cynicisizing (?) of my heart I kind of grew to love this. It's far from the greatest thing ever, but I laugh at it and contemplate what it talks about. It's funny, it's satire, it good. The only negative is these aren't really the definitive versions of some of these songs for me. But the template here is great, and the songs are all solid and have high potential to be re-imagined. I know most of these have been redone or covered in the last 40-50 odd years, but still. This album is great and its got solid song writing, but there are other versions of the songs far more realized. I hope that nukes sense, but ill say this. If I can make something as good as this ill be happy you know. So, yeah, as we all know, Randy Newman's the best. Also as a side note, I think I might do a De La Soul review. I mean I was disappointed by The Chronic and Reasonable Doubt, so maybe their debut will fill that void. But hopefully up next was a surprise favorite of mine from last year. I was not expecting to dig it as much as I did and continue to. 

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