12 Songs, 38 Minutes

EDITORS’ NOTES

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.”

EDITORS’ NOTES

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.”

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