Hi, I’m Josh Halper! I’m a guitarist born and raised here in Music City. I’m one of two hosts of WXNA’s “Hot Fudge Tuesdays” which airs every Saturday, from 2 to 4 p.m. We are the self-proclaimed “Randy Boys” on the WXNA lineup, so as a statement of my love for Mr. Newman, I’ve decided to make a list of my favorite Randy albums.
4. “Darkmatter” – Randy’s 2017 album serves as a Cliff’s Notes for the types of work you might find when digging through the songwriter’s expansive career. Songs such as “The Great Debate”, “Putin”, and “It’s a Jungle Out There (V2)” represent the scathing critiques of both governmental and societal hypocrisy that we, as Randy fanatics, have come to anticipate with a nervous reluctance. These songs ride the line of hilarious and cringeworthy, satisfying the listener’s appetite by the third or fourth listen. The rest of the album contains delicious historical vignettes (“Brothers” & “Sonny Boy”), heart-wrenching narrative, and seemingly autobiographical poetry (“Lost Without You, “She Chose Me”, “On the Beach”, and “Wandering Boy”). This is with a solid collection of songs that any Randy lover can be beyond pleased with.
3. “Little Criminals” – In terms of production, this album is a launching point for Randy Newman’s middle era, when he sometimes used distorted electric guitars and synthesizers instead of strings. Bringing in the Eagles as his backing band bridged the gap between crooner Randy and rocker Randy, giving his discography a nice dip into rock’s evil depths. The songwriting is just as whimsical as before, but something about the way the pieces are tracked makes them feel less silly and fun, even though the subject matter is relatively consistent with the rest of his work. His high energy songs see these changes, but the ballads remain pure and simple, creating a wonderful balance.
2. “Sail Away” – I consider this album to be the sister to “Good Old Boys”, which is a crowd favorite. A solid chunk of the cuts (“Sail Away”, “He Gives Us All His Love”, “Old Man”, “Dayton Ohio”, and “Burn On”) feel like they would fit right in with the following release. The string motion is in the same style, the instrumentation is almost identical, and the subject matter is just as romantic and somber. Thematically, the lyrics are geographically broader, outlining both critique and praise of the U.S. and the world, rather than focusing just on the South. Though this makes for an interesting trip around the globe, “Good Old Boys” reigns supreme in my ears. Something about a concept album…
1. “Randy Newman/Live” – This is my favorite Randy Newman Record (yes, over “Good Old Boys”). The record, which was originally released as a treat for Reprise’s fan club, feels like the most intimate and spontaneous thing ever put on tape. The image of Mr. Newman performing in a tiny club by himself, taking requests from and joking with the audience, makes it the most charming album of all. Songs like “Tickle Me”, “Mama Told Me Not to Come”, and “Lover’s Prayer” that are totally absurd (and almost creepy) become as cute as a shaved lamb in the solo setting. The solo performances of some of his heavier songs (“I’ll Be Home”, “So Long Dad”, and ”Living Without You”) are undeniably brutal. You can hear the audience’s awestruck silence as Newman spills his guts in song after song. This romance is immediately tossed aside when he jumps gracefully from “I Think It’s Going To Rain Today” into “Lover’s Prayer” proving that he is an incomparable writer and performer who both recognizes the weight of his work and does not take himself too seriously. This is a combination that I have yet to see elsewhere.
Josh Halper(DJ Sweetbaby)
Hot Fudge Tuesdays
Sundays 2-4 pm