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Sail Away: The Songs of Randy Newman


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Audio CD, May 9, 2006
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Sail Away: The Songs of Randy Newman + Nilsson Sings Newman: 30th Anniversary Deluxe Ed
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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

Musicians have long been huge fans of Randy Newman. Long before the mega-hits from soundtracks in recent years Newman has been blazing a path as one of the great American songwriters in modern history. An insider's favorite for scathing wit and keen insight with a razor-sharp turn of phrase, the musical artists on Sail Away: The Songs Of Randy Newman leapt at the chance to apply their distinctive signatures onto the work of a master. Sail Away: The Songs Of Randy Newman pairs an iconoclastic songwriter with artists young and established to breath new life - and newfound relevance to modern times - into the eternal song craft of Randy Newman. Features Tim O'Brien, Sonny Landreth, The Del McCoury Band, Allison Moorer, Steve Earl, Bela Fleck, Sam Bush, The Duhks, Kim Richey and more.

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Irony is a difficult concept to convey, especially in a musical context. Which makes covering Randy Newman, one of pop music's most devastatingly accurate ironists, such a difficult and thankless proposition. Harry Nilsson was one of the few to be successful at the task, on his classic Nilsson Sings Newman, but, generally Newman's iconoclastic style--filled with the blackest of humor, witty sarcasm, and dry, scathing satire--doesn't lend itself well to cover versions. This collection wisely sticks to a vague concept: Southern musicians (as is New Orleans native Newman) tackling the songwriter's early work, which was largely about the South and its inhabitants. All of these tracks were written in the '70s, but the sociopolitical concepts of American imperialism ("Political Science"), Louisiana floodwaters ("Louisiana 1927"), callous politicians ("Mr. President [Have Pity on the Working Man])," and rednecks (well, "Rednecks") makes this music as pertinent today as when it was released. A few of these versions succeed due to the sympathetic nature of artists such as Sonny Landreth (who changes "cracker" to the more PC "Cajun and Creole man" in "Louisiana 1927"), Tim O'Brien ("Sail Away"), Kim Richey ("Texas Girl at the Funeral of Her Father"), and bluegrass icon Del McCoury ("Birmingham"). But generally, even intelligent musicians such as Steve Earle, Marc Broussard, and the Duhks, whose hearts are in the right place, can't extract the appropriate subtleties in the lyrics and music to accomplish anything other than sending listeners back to the source. Which might ultimately be the best result of this well-meaning but ultimately futile tribute to one of America's finest and most underappreciated songwriters. --Hal Horowitz

1. Sail Away - Tim O'Brien
2. Louisiana - Sonny Landreth
3. Birmingham - The Del McCoury Band
4. Rider In The Rain - Joe Ely
5. Marie - Allison Moorer
6. Rednecks - Steve Earle
7. Burn On - Bela Fleck
8. Mr. President (Have Pity On The Working Man) - Sam Bush
9. Memo To My Son - Guster
10. Political Science - The Duhks
11. You Can Leave Your Hat On - Marc Broussard
12. Texas Girl At The Funeral Of Her Father - Kim Richey

Product Details

  • Audio CD (May 9, 2006)
  • Original Release Date: January 1, 2006
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Sugarhill
  • ASIN: B000F3UAC0
  • Average Customer Review: 2.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #185,810 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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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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Customer Reviews

2.6 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

19 of 24 people found the following review helpful By Leopold Stotch on May 19, 2006
Format: Audio CD
...an interesting idea -- round up a bunch of roots/bluegrass/Americana artists (mind you, mostly from the browner side of the pasture -- aside from the Duhks) to pay tribute to Randy Newman. Newman is as much a storyteller as he is a songwriter -- his compositions rich with a peerlessly literary degree of insight and an almost cinematic sense of emotion and tension. He's had a few well-known numbers, but he's basically been an underground/cult artist for the past four decades...aside from his work scoring films and writing music for animated features.

But this disk...first problem is a hakneyed song selection. Considering the consistant quality of Newman's output, here the producer (or the artists) have settled on a set of Newman's most familiar cuts. No interesting obscurities, no uncovered gems. And they ARE out there. I mean, do we really have to hear "You Can Leave Your Hat On" again??? Especially a hammy version like this one? It's one of Newman's least interesting...why doesn't someone take a stab at "Beehive State"? "Vine Street" Anything from his brilliant recent disk "Bad Love"? Despite the fact that Newman's been doing good stuff in the '80s and '90s, no one attempts a tune made after 1977. Strikes me as laziness. Yawn. Kim Richey's choice of "Texas Girl at the Funeral of Her Father" is as by far the most intriguing choice...

With that complaint out of the way, even if these were interesting selections, the performances are thoroughly uninspired. Lackluster. Adequate. Bela Fleck's instrumental run through of "Burn On" is pretty cool, but that's it. Most of the other folks either try to ape Newman's own delivery (bad idea) or just kinda bland their way through the songs...taking them so literally that the songs limp lifelessly to a close...

Not the best way to honor Newman...but maybe this is all part of his own sense of misanthropy and self-sabatoge. I don't know.
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6 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Michael P. Maslanka on June 18, 2006
Format: Audio CD
Hearing these cover songs is like hearing the song for the first time---different voices, different interpretations. Rednecks has a gritty anger that you don't hear in newman's original. Sail Away is done justice with its slow, lyrical beat and its understated tone contrasts with its subject, making you pay attention and listen. A fine effort that's worth a listen.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful By npf on August 19, 2013
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
I searched on 'Sail Away Randy Newman', and up popped several versions (some 'called remastered', some original, some clearly different albums) - I selected one of the albums called: 'Sail Away : Songs of Randy Newman' by Randy Newman. The closest Randy Newman got to this album was writing the songs and picking up the royalty check. A bunch of unknowns are singing these songs with different arrangements than the original. It is AWFUL. I didn't even realize what I had until I played a couple of songs and said "What the.....". Upon closer inspection I see there are different artists on the CD jacket. NOTHING in the ad said anything about it being a cover album. I feel completely ripped off. Selling an album with the same name, and even putting Randy Newman's name on it TWICE. And because I played it I cannot return it. Don't think I would do business with this vendor again.
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0 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Piccoli on September 7, 2010
Format: Audio CD
I just listened to this album - had to erase it from my computer. It's an appalling travesty. Randy Newman is one of the greatest song writers of our generation, and none of these tracks captured it's song. I'm throwing the CD in the trash!
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0 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Julia E. Riley on August 7, 2009
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
When they made Randy Newman, they broke the mold. The variety of compositions he has written and his unique singing style are combined in this recording. There is no one else quite like him. This is a recording you will want to play for your friends. Pay attention to the words which always have a message - often satirical.
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