Wednesday, November 30, 2011


Mr. Newman has been concentrating on his grand back catalogue for this past couple of releases, re-recording his classics as solo piano pieces, quite enjoyably.  He also did this concept on the road, presenting a few rare treats for lucky towns.

This live set comes from one of the great nations of Europe, in a show filmed for the BBC at an old London church now used for concerts.  The cozy audience was almost equaled in number by the BBC Concert Orchestra, who join in for about half the 22 songs.

I can't decide if I'm partial to the orchestrated songs, or Newman's own solo numbers.  For the most part, it's the uptempo cuts he handles on his own, often with his New Orleans-style piano, for favourites such as Mama Told Me Not To Come and It's Money That I Love.  But the orchestra sure does hammer home the poignancy on say, "Louisiana 1927" ("Six feet of water in the streets of Evangeline").

I've seen this church before on other DVD's, and it's a visual treat, with its old exposed brick and huge windows.  The show was recorded in daylight hours, which is even better as we have the trees and sky in the background.  Trust me, it's one of the details that makes the difference in a concert DVD.  For repeat enjoyment, you get the entire show on CD as well.

As celebrated and lucrative his soundtrack work is, none of that Toy Story stuff is here, which is smart.  You've Got A Friend In Me is not quite as high on the Irony Scale as Short People and Political Science ("Let's drop the big one, they'll be no-one left to blame us").

Listening to old Randy Newman is always rewarded, even new versions of it.  It's not like his voice has changed much.  Plus, it's never been overplayed on classic rock radio.  If it had been, we might be a healthier society.

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