On Vine Street: The Early Songs of Randy Newman

On Vine Street: The Early Songs of Randy Newman


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Many Randy Newman fans are aware that before he began to focus on a solo recording career in the late 1960s, he'd worked as a jobbing songwriter for years, his compositions or co-compositions getting recorded by numerous other artists. Even fairly serious Newman fans, however, might be unaware of just how much such material he penned in his early years. Twenty-six Newman interpretations spanning 1962-1970 are on this superbly annotated compilation, and as much as it digs up -- much of it rare, one cut even previously unreleased -- it's just the tip of the iceberg. Some of the songs, and quite a few of the performers, are fairly well known: Alan Price had a British hit with "Simon Smith and the Amazing Dancing Bear" in 1967; Cilla Black had a U.K. Top 20 single with "I've Been Wrong Before" in 1965; Gene Pitney went all the way to number two in Britain with "Nobody Needs Your Love" in 1966; Nilsson's "So Long Dad" is from his well-regarded 1970 Nilsson Sings Newman album; and Eric Burdon & the Animals' "Mama Told Me Not to Come" is the original 1967 version of a classic later recorded by Newman himself and made into a hit by Three Dog Night. There's also "Old Kentucky Home," from the Beau Brummels' 1967 album Triangle, and Dusty Springfield's reliably fine version of "I Think It's Going to Rain Today." It might astound even collectors, however, to see just how many notable artists recorded Newman tunes in the '60s, including the O'Jays, Irma Thomas, Erma Franklin, Gene McDaniels, Frankie Laine, the Fleetwoods, Jackie DeShannon, Scott Walker, Van Dyke Parks, Rick Nelson, Fats Domino...the list goes on. Also thrown in are some generally worthy obscurities, like "Happy New Year" by Beverley, who later became known as John Martyn's wife and musical partner, and Vic Dana's "Looking for Me," which sounds like a West Side Story outtake. Newman scholars will find this interesting for strong hints of his later fusions of Tin Pan Alley, R&B, and various strains of Americana in his more mature solo work. General fans of '60s rock, however, will find this surprisingly interesting and pleasing evidence that Randy Newman was adept at far more conventional music than what he'd become famous for under his own name, crafting quite catchy, if somewhat erratic, material with a much stronger pop
ock and soul bent than in his later work. It's true that those familiar with this phase of Newman's career will find some favorites of theirs omitted. The decision to not feature more than one track by any one performer also limits the scope of the set, as some of the artists, such as Price and Nilsson, recorded quite a few notable Newman covers. Also, the existence of more than one decent version of specific songs, and the compilers' decision to choose no more than one version of any one tune, leads to some tough calls; Gene Pitney's version of "Just One Smile" is certainly more notable than the one included here (by the Tokens), for instance, though the Tokens were the first to put the song on 45. On the whole, however, Ace does an excellent job of representing the wide scope of both Newman's early songwriting and the performers who interpreted those compositions, without compromising the general level of musical quality. The obvious solution to the dilemmas in narrowing this body of work down to one disc would be to present several more volumes of such material -- a series that both Newman and fans of this important songwriter would richly deserve.

Product Details

Release Date: 04/01/2008
Label: Ace Records Uk
UPC: 0029667032629
catalogNumber: 1186
Rank: 78378


  1. The Biggest Night of Her Life
  2. Simon Smith and the Amazing Dancing Bear
  3. Mama Told Me Not to Come
  4. Have You Seen My Baby
  5. Old Kentucky Home
  6. So Long Dad
  7. Love Story
  8. Vine Street
  9. I'll Be Home
  10. I Think It's Going to Rain Today
  11. I Don't Want to Hear It Anymore
  12. I've Been Wrong Before
  13. Take Me Away
  14. Happy New Year
  15. Baby, Don't Look Down
  16. Friday Night
  17. Big Brother
  18. Nobody Needs Your Love
  19. Just One Smile
  20. I Can't Remember Ever Loving You
  21. While the City Sleeps
  22. Take Her
  23. Love Is Blind
  24. Smoebody's Waiting
  25. Looking for Me
  26. They Tell Me It's Summer

Album Credits

Performance Credits

Sammy Lowe   Conductor
Peter Knight Singers   Conductor

Technical Credits

Randy Newman   Arranger,Composer,Horn Arrangements
Gene Pitney   Producer
David Axelrod   Producer
Terry Melcher   Producer
Jack Nitzsche   Arranger,Producer
Gene Page   Arranger
George Martin   Producer
John Boylan   Producer,Arrangement Transcription
Philip Chapman   Memorabilia
Denny Cordell   Producer
Tommy "Snuff" Garrett   Producer
Dick Glasser   Producer
Hank Levine   Arranger
Richard Perry   Producer
Ivor Raymonde   Director,Producer
Bob Reisdorff   Producer
Garry Sherman   Arranger
Sal Valentino   Arranger
Lenny Waronker   Producer
Tony Rounce   Memorabilia
John Franz   Producer
Trevor Churchill   Memorabilia
Sammy Lowe   Arranger
Mick Patrick   Liner Notes,Memorabilia
Rob Hughes   Memorabilia
Neil Dell   Memorabilia
Stephen Paley   Producer
Eddie Ray   Producer
Peter Knight Singers   Arranger

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