Personnel includes: Randy Newman (vocals, piano); Jeff Lynne (guitar, keyboards); Mark Knopfler, Steve Lukather, Michael Landau, Dean Parks, Tom Petty (guitar); Daniel Higgins (flute, piccolo, tenor & baritone saxophones) Marc Russo (saxophone); Jerry Hey (trumpet, flugelhorn); Leland Sklar, Nathan East, Neil Stubenhaus (bass); Carlos Vega (drums).
Producers: Mark Knopfler, Jeff Lynne, Tommy Lipuma, Jerry Newton Howard.
Engineers include: Frank Wolf, Mark Linett, Neil Dorfsman.
The whip-smart songs of Randy Newman have always engaged melody with a poignant lyrical fury, making the ornery observor of American contradiction strangely comparable to English songwriters like the equally pissed-off and remorseful Elvis Costello. LAND OF DREAMS joins the sensitive grumbler with the eloquent producer and guitarist Mark Knopfler of Dire Straits. Songs like the cheesy, buoyant "Falling in Love" (with guitarists Tom Petty, Jeff Lynne and Mike Campbell) play against haunting beauties like the autobiographical "Dixie Flyer" and the lovestruck "Something Special."
Although Newman misfires a bit with lumpy tracks like the weird-dude-on-acid headtrip of "'Masterman and Baby J," he makes it up in spades with "It's Money That Matters," a pointed, cynical diatribe aimed at Reagan-era "trickle-down" economics. "Roll with the Punches" takes a swing at the GOP as well, matching Newman's honky-tonk piano lope with the dark swell of his infuriated lyrics. The elegant touch of Knopfler, who also wrote the stunning soundtracks to LOCAL HERO and CAL, is evident throughout, especially on "Dixie Flyer." The song's long, slow fadeout on Newman's piano, Knopfler's gentle slide guitar and mandolin and the percussive chug of a distant train is as evocative as the bygone era it evokes.