Saturday, June 02, 2012
Alfred, Emil, and Lionel Newman). "Roll With the Punches," a little further along, stands in as the designated voice of the ugly-racist POV for this album, and it's unpleasant as always, complicating it with an equally ugly bent toward parental-abuse types of justification. Remember, Newman never means any of it, busy as usual with the songwriting equivalent of having and eating his cake. Oh hell, he's allowed, even if it seems more and more arch mannerism; the songs and the attitudes and the distance between the singer and the songwriter at least remain interesting, more than can be said for most songwriters on the planet. Anyway, I don't know what it has to do with New Orleans or growing up, except obviously enough he's had those sentiments ringing in his ears all his life. "Masterman and Baby J" is another example of Newman's creeping hip-hop envy, a progression from "Mikey's" on Trouble in Paradise, perfectly entertaining for what it is (which is not hip-hop or New Wave). The biggest hit the album produced, "It's Money That Matters," also doesn't have much to do with New Orleans, nor does one of the best songs he ever wrote, "I Want You to Hurt Like I Do," which dwells innocuously as the album-closer at the end of side 2 of the vinyl (and which I've written about before here). But they sure are great, lifting the level way high at the end with a couple of King-Kong wallops. In the end, I like Land of Dreams a lot and count it as one of my favorite Randy Newman albums but I know I'm in a minority here. Or maybe, at my age, I've just always been seduced by the broader and wider swaths of Adult Contemporary so clearly beginning to piggyback more and more on the soundtrack work. He still turns a mean phrase, however, no point denying him that.