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12 Songs

Randy Newman

℗ 1970 Reprise Records RS 6373

Randy Newman • 1970 • 12 Songs

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.

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