Personnel includes: Randy Newman (vocals, piano, keyboards, synthesizer); Ry Cooder (guitar, slide guitar); Dean Parks, Mark Knopfler (guitar, mandolin); Glenn Frey (guitar, background vocals); Waddy Wacthel, Steve Lukather (guitar); Joe Walsh (slide guitar); Al Perkins (pedal steel guitar); Chuck Findley, Tom Scott (horns); David Paich (Fender Rhodes piano, Farfisa organ); Michael Boddiker (synthesizer); Jimmy Bond, Russ Titelman, Red Callender, Klaus Voormann, David Shields, Nathan East (bass); Jim Keltner, Jeff Porcaro (drums); Lindsey Buckingham, Christine McVie, Stephen Bishop, Valerie Carter, Rickie Lee Jones, Don Henley, Bob Seger (background vocals).
Producers include: Lenny Waronker, Russ Titleman, Van Dyke Parks, Mark Knopfler, Peter Asher.
Compilation producers: Randy Newman, David McLees.
Includes liner notes by Randy Newman.
Digitally remastered by Keith Blake (Warner Brothers).
Personnel: Randy Newman (piano, keyboards, synthesizer); Dean Parks, Mark Knopfler (guitar, mandolin); Clarence White, Steve Donnelly, Steve Lukather, Waddy Wachtel, John Goux (guitar); Joe Walsh (slide guitar); Jack Nimitz, Thomas Scott , Marty Krystall, Brian Scanlon, Brandon Fields (saxophone); Oscar Brashear, Stewart Blumberg (trumpet); George Thatcher, Bruce Fowler (trombone); Jim Self (tuba); Chuck Findley, Larry Williams , Ernie Watts, Steve Madaio (horns); Ralph Grierson (piano); David Paich (Fender Rhodes piano, Farfisa); Michael Boddicker (organ, synthesizer); Mitchell Froom, Randy Kerber (keyboards); Guy Fletcher (Synclavier); Gene Parsons, Jeff Porcaro, Jim Keltner, Andy Newmark, Rick Marotta (drums); Victor Feldman, Lenny Castro, Michael Fisher, Milt Holland, Paulinho Da Costa, Carlos Vega (percussion); Christine McVie, Donna Davidson, Luana Jackman, Don Henley, Melissa MacKay, Glenn Frey, J.D. Souther, Kate Markowitz, Leslie Smith, Linda Harmon, Lindsey Buckingham, Rickie Lee Jones, Arno Lucas, Scottie Haskell, Terry Wood, Timothy B. Schmit, Valerie Carter, Bernie Leadon, Teresa James, Bob Seger, Bobbi Page, Yvonne Williams, Carmen Carter, Carmen Twillie (background vocals).
Audio Remasterer: Keith Blake.
Liner Note Authors: David McLees; Randy Newman.
Recording information: 02/??/1970-06/01/1999.
Photographers: Ed Thrasher; Neal Preston.
Arranger: Randy Newman.
Randy Newman has been beloved of critics, record geeks, and music fans for years, so much so that Rhino's 2001 compilation The Best of Randy Newman may seem like a case of preaching to the converted, at least to those who worship Newman. After all, anybody who's been paying attention realizes his sly genius, not just as a songwriter, but as a musician and record-maker -- 12 Songs, Sail Away, Good Old Boys, and Trouble in Paradise are hailed as masterpieces because the records are as carefully constructed and engaging as the songs. Proof of that sentiment arrives immediately with the collection's opening cut, "Mama Told Me Not to Come," which may be better known in Three Dog Night's bombastic rendition, but is better and funnier in this wry telling. That's also true for other Newman songs that have become standards -- "You Can Leave Your Hat On," "Sail Away," "Louisiana 1927," and "I Think It's Going to Rain Today" are enhanced by Newman's delivery, which emphasizes not just his humor but also the underlying emotion of his songs. Then there are the songs that the general public associates with Randy Newman -- the novelty tune "Short People," the cynical faux-anthem "I Love L.A.," the reaffirming Toy Story theme "You've Got a Friend in Me." These two sides prove that Randy Newman is a songwriter of exceptional talent and that he can reach a wide audience, but the wonderful, bewildering thing about him is that his recordings obstinately fall between these two extremes -- he's simply too willful to play to a mass audience but, even at his most obscure and ornery, his music is open and accessible. Because of this mercurial talent, it can be hard for a neophyte to get a handle on his recordings, which is why a collection like The Best of Randy Newman isn't simply welcome, it's necessary. This may not be every longtime fan's choice for the very best of Randy Newman, but it does give a good sense of his genius and how far-reaching it is by featuring all those previously mentioned songs, along with many others that confirm the depth of his talent -- "Political Science," "Rednecks," "Marie," "Miami," and "Dixie Flyer," among others. There are certainly other songs in his catalog that could have easily been showcased here, and 12 Songs and Sail Away certainly had their own logic that, in their own way, make them a more effective introduction. But as a far-reaching sampler for neophytes and casual fans, this does the job handsomely. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine