Personnel: Randy Newman (piano, electric piano, synthesizer); Randy Newman (vocals); Ron Elliott, Ron Elliott (acoustic guitar); Al Perkins (pedal steel guitar); Malcolm Cecil, Robert Margouleff (Moog synthesizer); Russ Titelman, Willie Weeks (bass instrument, electric bass); Red Callender (bass instrument); Bobbye Porter (percussion); Dennis Budimir (acoustic guitar); John Platania, Ry Cooder (electric guitar); Milt Holland (drums, percussion); Jim Keltner, Andy Newmark (drums); Don Henley, Glenn Frey, Bernie Leadon (background vocals).
Audio Mixer: Lee Herschberg.
Liner Note Authors: Randy Newman; David Wild.
Recording information: Warner Bros. Studios, North Hollywood, CA.
Photographer: Shepard Sherbell.
Unknown Contributor Role: Huey P. Long.
Arranger: Randy Newman.
Whereas 1972's SAIL AWAY played like a superbly crafted collection of short stories, 1974 's GOOD OLD BOYS was Newman's first novel. The literary analogies are not misplaced--Newman brings a writer's eye to character development, detail, setting, and scenario on GOOD OLD BOYS, a concept album about life in the Deep South. The opening track, "Rednecks," is a mercilessly scathing swipe at Southern racism, with a rollicking, sing-along chorus that only sinks the song's knife in deeper. And "A Wedding in Cherokee County" is a lovely ballad about a highly suspect backwoods marriage.
But for every attack on provincialism, Newman offers a tender portrait of a Southern character in the throes of personal turmoil. "Guilty," for example, is a self-destructive man's confessional lament, while "Marie" may be Newman's most heartbreaking and beautiful love song. By inhabiting his characters with uncanny accuracy, Newman achieves a sense of comedy and empathy that might be impossible were he narrating these tales from his own point of view. There are lighter tracks, too, like the good-time "Rolling" and the enigmatic "Naked Man," but even these are graced with the artist's fine arrangements and ear for melody. Unique, confrontational, and moving, GOOD OLD BOYS remains one of Newman's finest achievements.