Recordings

New Radicals / Randy Newman

The first two CDs offer a generous recap of his 10 albums. His songs focused so tightly on characters that it was easy to miss the cinematic scope of his music as these records came out over the years. Here, though, it's plainly apparent. (It shouldn't be surprising, of course, since he was born into a family of film musicians that included Alfred Newman.)

The third CD presents outtakes and unissued material, including a group of surprisingly light-hearted tunes recorded but not used in Three Amigos. The fourth concentrates on his film music, and it is the hardest one to swallow.

Musically, Newman is as complex as ever, and the instrumental compositions are the most successful part of the disc. However, there isn't much room for his challenging characterizations in such movie tunes as "You've Got a Friend in Me" (from Toy Story). It almost sounds too happy, and that's just not Randy Newman's strength.

--Salvatore Caputo

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