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12 Songs


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Audio CD, October 25, 1990
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The Randy Newman Songbook Vol. 2

While pondering whether to record a second volume of the Randy Newman Songbook, the two-time Academy Award-winning songwriter—honored most recently for “We Belong Together” from Toy Story 3—claims he took a practical, Hollywood movie-studio view of the situation: “The first one did so well that nowadays you might as well just ... Read more in Amazon's Randy Newman Store

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Product Details

  • Audio CD (October 25, 1990)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Reprise / Wea
  • ASIN: B000002KOP
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (19 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #45,103 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

1. Have You Seen Me Baby?
2. Let's Burn Down The Cornfield
3. Mama Told Me Not To Come
4. Suzanne
5. Lover's Prayer
6. Lucinda
7. Underneath The Harlem Moon
8. Yellow Man
9. Old Kentucky Home
10. Rosemary
11. If You Need Oil
12. Uncle Bob's Midnight Blues

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com

With 1970's 12 Songs, Randy Newman eschewed the string-driven expanse of its self-titled predecessor for unorchestrated solo and rock quartet arrangements (Ry Cooder, Clarence White of the Byrds, and Jim Gordon of Derek and the Dominos are among the sidemen). If anything, the lyrical perspective on these songs is stranger (and certainly more paranoid) than on any other collection the singer/songwriter has ever done. "Let's Burn Down the Cornfield" explores arson as an aphrodisiac. In "Lucinda" the narrator pleads in vain for his California golden girl ("in her graduation gown") to get out of the way of a beach-cleaning vehicle. "Uncle Bob's Midnight Blues" is a free-associating shuffle that manages to evoke Bing Crosby, Sonny Boy Williamson, and the Rolling Stones for no logical reason. 12 Songs sold nearly as pitifully as Randy Newman, but one of its tracks--"Mama Told Me Not to Come"--lined Newman's pockets when it became a No. 1 hit for Three Dog Night in the summer of 1970. --Steven Stolder

Customer Reviews

It's VERY bluesy,and has a very smooth atmosphere.
"wmurch3"
In comic terms he subtly explores very real and sometimes gritty aspects of life, helping us laugh at adversity.
Writeagain
There is heavy slide guitar on some tracks thanks to Ry Cooder, and some of Newman's best songs are here.
ewomack

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

24 of 24 people found the following review helpful By ewomack TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on January 12, 2003
Format: Audio CD
This album has none of the insecurity of Newman's first release "Randy Newman." On that album, Newman relied heavily on walls of orchestra for backing. On this album, Newman abandons the orchestra almost with a vengence. This album is made up mostly of songs with a small band. There is heavy slide guitar on some tracks thanks to Ry Cooder, and some of Newman's best songs are here.
The obvious one is "Mama Told Me Not To Come" which Three Dog Night took to the top of the charts. The version on "12 Songs" is vastly superior, and considering that song's success it's surprising that more people didn't seek this album out at the time. Sales were poor in general.
"Old Kentucky Home" is one of Newman's best and funniest songs. It also is a harbinger for a future project of Newman's: the American South (he would deal with this topic 2 albums later).
When introducing "Yellow Man" on "Randy Newman Live", Newman describes the song as "a pinhead's view of China." It is just that. This is Newman's first foray into the world of singing about racial sterotypes - references to rice and excessive frugality abound. It is an easily misunderstood song, and similar in theme to some songs that would get him in trouble years later. It's not as outright offensive as some of his later treamtments of racism, so it's harder to catch the joke.
Newman also takes on a rare cover: "Underneath the Harlem Moon." This song also includes at least one racial slur, and the lyrics are strangely absent from the CD booklet. With Newman singing - knowing what we know now - the song takes on an ironic twist.
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18 of 18 people found the following review helpful By Tom Tuerff on November 8, 2002
Format: Audio CD
This may be one of the most brilliant albums ever made, and when you consider that Randy Newman was, at the time, so strung out on one addictive substance or another that he has since admitted he has no recollection of MAKING this album, it's probably not the best thing to play for your kids if you're trying to talk them out of using drugs!
Indeed, I once saw Newman in concert and when somebody called out for "Uncle Bob's Midnight Blues," the strange, paranoid rant at the end of this album, Newman laughed and said, "No, I don't do that one ever since I quit taking drugs."
That said, the songs on this album will burn a hole in your soul with their ascerbic wit. "Let's Burn Down the Cornfield" is a favorite with me, as is the song about poor old "Lucinda," and then there's "Suzanne," "Have you seen my baby," and gee, just the WHOLE THING is wonderful. Highly, enthusiastically recommended...
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21 of 24 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on October 2, 1999
Format: Audio CD
allowing you to play it more often. And you need to play it often because these songs are, simply, extremely complicated. Arsonist, stalker, lonely misogynist, well-meaning racist, self-involved redneck and huckster salesman are just the most obvious of Newman's many personas. The greatness is not that we come to understand these fringe voices, or even that they are granted their say, but that we are hard-pressed to recognize them at first glance. And even after we know exactly who it is we are looking at, we still find ourselves charmed. Beautiful music and ugly folk.
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Leighton Palmer on March 11, 2000
Format: Audio CD
This is such a great record by a criminally overlooked artist, not a weak track in sight and improves with every listen, what more can you want out of one record?
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By J. K. Townsend on April 20, 2007
Format: Audio CD
"12 Songs" is among my very favorite albums, much less Randy Newman albums. Totally different in mood and color from his first self-titled record, this one is swampy, murky, and hangs together as an artistic statement without being a self-conscious song cycle. I play this disc more than any other Newman work -- and that's 37 years after I first added it to my collection. The understated,stark accompaniment is pitch-perfect and serves the dark atmospherics of the songs -- just bluesy slide guitars, drums, bass and piano. By comparison, his follow-up, "Sail Away," while extremely brilliant, sounds thrown-together. A top 10 desert island disc, in my humble opinion.
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11 of 14 people found the following review helpful By "wmurch3" on August 31, 2000
Format: Audio CD
I don't like to classify albums as best or worse, mainly because each album represents a time period in the artists life, so comparing two or three albums wouldn't make much sense.
12 songs is unlike any other newman album. It's VERY bluesy,and has a very smooth atmosphere. You learn this by the second track(lets burn down the cornfield).
It's plane and simply a mood album. And one of the best mood albums I've ever had the pleasure of listening to.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Dave Fever Tree Sigmon on November 8, 2010
Format: Audio CD
To all the freaks and social outcasts this is exactly the album you need to hear. This singer-songwriter-pianist doesn't appear to inject his persona in any of these top-notch melodic songs. And if he's ever encountered any of these neurotic or psychotic situations in his lifetime, it will remain a mystery. His New Orleans drawl is expressive in bringing forth the debauchery of these outlandish characters. The precise arrangements inform a diverse collection of rock, blues, jazz and country. Elusively, he's spun his web waiting to catch the fly on "Yellow Man" and "Underneath the Harlem Moon" until you figure out they're anti-racist in content. The organ in "Suzanne" sounds as creepy as its lyric. There's an arsonist at large on a cold night ready to experience love in the open air. There's a woman who gets put under at the beach. Newman's so adept at writing that he nails one of rock's greatest metaphors in "If You Need Oil". You get superb bottleneck playing courtesy of Ry Cooder and Clarence White. Of course there's the restrained brilliance of Randy's own piano and Lenny Waronker's production. These songs can be heard as independent mini-movies. One of the greatest albums of all time.
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