Deluxe remastered reissue of 1974 album including 'Rednecks', 'Louisiana 1927' & 'Marie'. Plus a bonus disc featuring the 13-song Johnny Cutler's Birthday, the previously unissued 'rough draft' of this 1974 classic. The... more » 2 discs are housed in a double slimline jewel case and a slipcase. 2002.« less
Deluxe remastered reissue of 1974 album including 'Rednecks', 'Louisiana 1927' & 'Marie'. Plus a bonus disc featuring the 13-song Johnny Cutler's Birthday, the previously unissued 'rough draft' of this 1974 classic. The 2 discs are housed in a double slimline jewel case and a slipcase. 2002.
Christopher Zayne Reeves | Columbus, OH | 11/24/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Listening to Johnny Cutler's Birthday, it is amazing to learn that a true masterpiece such as Good Old Boys could have been a different record and that the record that was not made is as funny, scary and heartwrenching as the one that was. The scope of Good Old Boys turned out to be much broader than was originally intended with the demos on the bonus disc and encompassed not only colorful eccentrics who inhabit the South but also its own vital history that has always been viewed (by both sides) as seperate from that of the North. For Johnny Cutler's Birthday, the focus is entirely on the "unreliable narrarator" (a Newman motiff), his family and immediate surroundings. Many of the songs from Good Old Boys are present here; Rednecks, Marie, Birmingham and Louisiana 1927 among others. But the songs that did not make it to the released album are astonishing in how they flesh out Cutler and his wife, Marie, into two of the most tragic and strangely beautiful characters in the history of popular music. My Daddy Knew Dixie Howell is a chilling song that begins as a drunken birthday toast to gathered friends by Cutler. He starts by promising to "tell you all the story of my life" and proceeds to eulogize his late father and the story he tells becomes more sinister with each passing verse. It's a revelation for someone who only knew of this character through Good Old Boys to discover such a complex and perceptive man. Randy Newman once stated that he felt the song Rednecks was flawed because how would this man singing the song know the names of northern cities that have been just as hostile to blacks but yet be tauted as open-minded havens by PC historians and northern liberals. Here, in My Daddy Knew Dixie Howell, Cutler is revealed to be a man intelligent enough to grasp this and be eaten alive by the unfairness of it. Shining, a song sung by Marie, is as bleak as anything Randy Newman has ever written. Here Cutler's wife, who never spoke in Good Old Boys, addresses her mother-in-law and seems to speak for every woman who just missed the sexual revolution generation. Marie talks about enjoying her teen years as an attractive girl and laments spending the rest of her life with the same man doing the same things over and over again. The details that Newman captures here; Marie going to Augusta for a ballgame and down to Daytona for racing with the same friends that she has known since the first grade are poignant and insightful. No two songs in his entire, estimable catalogue showcase his skill for creating an entire world in just a few simple, well-observed verses any better than My Daddy Knew Dixie Howell and Shining.Other "new" songs on Johnny Cutler's Birthday such as If We Didn't Have Jesus, Good Morning and an early version of Back On My Feet Again entitled Doctor, Doctor are all uniformly excellent as well. The intimacy of these performances is remarkable and for those interested in knowing how Newman gets from A to B they are absolutely priceless. You truly feel as if you are in the recording booth while listening to his funny, self-deprecating comments and direction between songs. The amount of thought put into what became Good Old Boys is staggering and it is such a thrill to listen to it come to fruition on this once-in-a-lifetime bonus disc.Thank you Rhino for continuing your long tradition of showcasing some of our most creative artists and expanding our original notions of them in the process. And most of all, thank you Randy Newman for such a unique and essential body of work."
One of pop music's intellectual peaks...
ewomack | MN USA | 09/06/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Randy Newman's portrait of the Southern United States represents a peak in his career and a culmination of four albums. Begged and beaten into the music industry by friends and colleagues (one of them supposedly John Lennon, who called Newman to say that all of the Beatles had heard his demos), Newman's fourth album of original material provides evidence that those friends and colleagues provided us a great service. "Good Old Boys" stands as one of Newman's greatest acheivements, and arguably one of the greatest albums of the 1970s. Rolling Stone even proclaimed it the 393rd best album of all time in 2003 (though it probably deserves to be put much higher).
A furtive glance at the album's title, and an accompanying peek at the song titles ("Rednecks", "Birmingham", Naked Man", "Guilty") would suggest a slam dunk satirical no holds barred slash at the south. Not so. Newman approaches the subject with dignity and a balance not often bequeathed to the United States' southern states. Not to say that "Good Old Boys" eulogizes the South (this is no "Gone With The Wind"). The bad and ugly also creep in: racism, prejudice, drunkedness, poverty, populism, obscenity. Newman, himself a Southerner by birth, has forayed into this territory before. 1970's "12 Songs" included "Old Kentucky Home" and "Yellow Man", though the former contained more nudge nudge satire than "Good Old Boys". This album expands on the themes explored in those songs and expands it into the length of an entire album. The results come out more in context than they do on a song-by-song basis. For example, "Birmingham" and "Marie", both amazing songs, take on a different tone when following "Rednecks". "Rollin'" represents the sigh of denial after a long arduous inhale. The song feels different in isolation than it does at the end of the song cycle of "Good Old Boys". This entails a tightly composed and well thought out collection of amazing songs. They all stand on their own but nonetheless take on a different life in the context of the album.
"Rednecks" has to be Newman's most shocking song for more reasons than its abrasive lyrics. Somehow it manages sympathetic, vindictive, satirical, racist, and anti-racist sentiments all at once. It puts the 'redneck' stereotype under the microscope and proclaims that the issues are more complex than they seem. It revels in Southern stereotypes while pointing the finger northward in the justifiably famous lines about the the northern 'cages' where blacks are kept in the "free" states. Indirectly it says "at least we're honest about it down here". It does all of this without promoting stereotypes or racism. This incomprehensible dichotomy pervades the entire album. Especially in Newman's portrait of Huey Long in "Every Man a King" which leads into "Kingfish".
Newman takes the orchestral lessons and arrangements learned from his previous albums and puts them to incredible work here. Strings, horns, steel guitar, and Newman's distinctive piano all fall together here in perfect balance. Completely gone are the instrumental excesses and self-conscious arrangements of his first two albums (i.e., he overused the orchestra on his first album and abandoned it on his second). "Louisiana 1927" contains one of the most beautifully orchestrated choruses in all of pop music, and stands as one of Newman's best. The amazing strings on "Kingfish" and "Rollin'" also deserve mention, though all songs are notable.
The 2CD set includes the demo for "Good Old Boys" called "Johnny Cutler's Birthday". This reveals the album's origins in a concept album revolving around one person. This focus proved too narrow for the subject matter, and at least six of the songs on the demo did not make the final album. One of them revolves around extreme profanity. Others fill in the story line (narrated by Newman in between his solo piano and voice takes). All are top notch Newman and will leave listeners wondering what else lurks in Newman's vault.
"Good Old Boys" stands as one one Newman's most impressive achievements. Every Randy Newman fan needs this CD set. Both the original album and the demo remain on firm solid concrete hard ground some thirty years later."
The Enigma of Randy Newman
email@example.com | formerly of New Orleans, currently of Houston | 09/29/1999
(5 out of 5 stars)
"It's sometimes hard for newcomers to Newman's brand of satirical social comment to understand what he's saying. Many people take the lyrics too literally or don't get the drift at all. ("Rednecks" is a prime example on this recording. "Short People" and "Sail Away" are other examples.) I bought this recording as a vinyl LP in the mid-70's and nearly wore it through. When my turntable went on the blink - then out to the garage sale, it was many years between listenings; but the tunes & lyrics were recurringly echoing in my head. A few years ago I got the CD and I'm hooked again. I love these songs! This is probably my most favorite record to crank up in the car and wail along with. Randy Newman is a very strange individual and I love him for it. If you want to know what Randy Newman is about, you need to have this CD. However, you might want to skip the lead track if you play it in front of your kids or your social activist friends. They just won't get the satire until after several listenings or a pointed explanation."
Not your "Toy Story" Randy Newman
firstname.lastname@example.org | Las Vegas, NV | 07/22/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Since this album came out almost thirty years ago, Randy Newman has slowly become the King of Movie Scores. He is a world famous composer of very recognizable movie music, even if a lot of fringe moviegoers may not follow this. After a million Oscar nominations, he finally reached his well-deserved peak of fame with a statue last year. But all of this work over the years still does not hold a candle to "Good Old Boys". I am tempted to say that ALL this work COMBINED does not equal "Good Old Boys". But I like his movie stuff too, so I'll hold back on that one. Even though today's popular music is loaded with swearing from beginning to end, with lyrics promoting violence against others, I wonder if this one would have had a problem getting released as new material today. The record industry has a political correctness problem it shares with the movie industry today. While the movies today can snigger all they want about sex, they seem to avoid works where adult (not pornographic) subjects can be handled in a mature fashion. Same with the record industry. While rap records are loaded with vile material to become the "baddest" product to sell to kids wanting to rebel against their parents, "Good Old Boys" would probably have a problem with the record companies. You see, this album takes an intelligent stab at Northern racism. It uses the word "nigger" repeatedly to make a point. While the most blatant song on the album, others have occasional lines that would make a beancounter ask "Can he say that?".But it's not only that that makes it a great album, although it's a great tactic. "Good Old Boys" is loaded with songs that made great social statements back then, and still work today. But while dealing with serious topics, the songs are extremely listenable. And many of them are funny. It describes a way of life that was accepted for many years by many people, and is still accepted today. If you want to listen to intelligent music, add this one to your collection."
Newman's Best (and that's really saying something)
wordnat | United States | 04/25/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Randy Newman's first four albums are all five-star classics, but if I was forced to choose my favorite it would have to be this one. There's an odd love/hate, happy/sad vibe going through this sneaky little concept album that leaves me highly impressed, but also a little uneasy, every time I play it. But usually, rather than get bogged down in the politics, I just enjoy the masterful beauty of the songs: "Guilty", "Louisiana 1927", and "Birmingham" (which has a middle-eight so beautiful that there's no way it could've been written by a mere mortal) are all examples of a songwriter at the top of his game. Newman would have a hit or two after these sessions, but his work would never again match the standard set by this gem of an album."