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Little Criminals

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iTunes Review

Randy Newman had established himself as a cult figure with a strong critical base and even stronger respect among fellow musicians, who often covered his songs to greater success. Yet with 1977’s Little Criminals, Newman had success on his own. The album’s opener, “Short People,” became a hit single, and the album followed. Like any Newman album, it’s packed with songs that work well beneath the surface. The cowboy song “Rider in the Rain” is made even more surreal by an appearance from The Eagles. “Baltimore,” hardly a picture postcard, has since been covered by Nina Simone, Nils Lofgren, and David Gray. The relatively straightforward “I’ll Be Home” had been performed by Harry Nilsson in 1970 on his album Nilsson Sings Newman. Yet the professional normalcy of Little Criminals' sound—this was L.A. circa 1977, after all—worked in direct contrast to the sometimes subtle, sometimes obvious (though never where you think) songwriting in tunes like “Sigmund Freud’s Impersonation of Albert Einstein in America,” the title track, and "In Germany Before the War.”

Customer Reviews

Randy as courageous and controversial

The younger Randy Newman doing as a few other artists at the time did: made a gamble that pop culture was sophisticated and intelligent enough to see past the superficial words of "Short People". While many could not, many could-enough to make it quite a hit. As society progressed to be more "tolerant" of course it became more ignorant and today the song is viewed as a blemish on his career. Rider in the Rain is as good or better than anything the Eagles made as Randy's uniquely unusual voice-as it so often does, fit in mysteriously perfectly.


A very good album but why is the release date listed as Jan. 1, 1970 when the copyright by Warner Brothers says it was released in 1977?


Born: November 28, 1943 in Los Angeles, CA

Genre: Soundtrack

Years Active: '60s, '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

An anomaly among early-'70s singer/songwriters, Randy Newman may have been slightly influenced by Bob Dylan, but his music owed more to New Orleans R&B and traditional pop than folk. Newman developed an idiosyncratic style that alternated between sweeping, cinematic pop and rolling R&B, which were tied together by his nasty sense of humor. Where his peers concentrated on confessional songwriting, Newman drew characters, creating a world filled with misfits, outcasts, charlatans, and con men. Though...
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