('m a lucky guy, you know. I was lucky enough to be there a year and a half ago to see Randy Newman at the Power Center. For an encoré he did a brilliant diatribe on Northern stereotypes about the South, which he announced he was never gonna sing again. J considered myself lucky just to be there. And now I feel even luckier. Because like thaL ridiculous song that you just can't seem to stop singing to yourself try as you may, that song just wouldñ't leave Mr. Newman alone. And it has inspired a fine concept album. Randy Newman, just in case you've been sitting in a cave somewhere listening to Black Sabbath for the last few years, is one of the really great composers in pop music. He looks like a Brillo pad with glasses, and sings like Fats Domino played at 16, slightly juiced and laconic. And he writes songs with the calculated subtlety and cold brilliance of a Flannery O'C onnor or Ingmar Bergman. He is a true artist, and a heil of a lot of fun as well. The concept behind Good Old Boys is the Great American Southland. The kickoff song, which I mentioned above, is "Rednecks", a song inspired by Lester Maddox'humiliationon late night TV at the hands of Dick Cavett. The rest of the side continúes to expand on the persona of the singer of "Rednecks", a man who is tired of being put down by a whole lot of smart -asses from Cleveland and Philadelphia as a racist. He is a roller in a steel mili, married to Mary (pronounced Marie), happy and confused and put off by politicians who don't listen. The side finishes with "Guilty", a real heart-wrencher, which has been done previously by Joe Cocker and Bonnie Raitt. Those versions rested on vocal and piano, naked and stark. Newman here, on his own rendition, has provided an orchestral backdrop which is sympathetic at the same time it is chilling. The arrangements are fairly brilliant throughout, as you might expect from Newman. And there is a tremendous unity here, that had been missing from his otfier studio albums. Side two deals with personaiities, abandoning the persona adopted on side one. The fust three songs all deal with Huey Long' (one of the songs was co-authored by Long himself) and his homestate Louisiana. The opener "Louisana 1927" is my favorite on the album, and a real gem of a song. A few recent releases on WarnersReprise have printed the lyrics on the back. and I feel lucky that Good Oid Boys is one of them. lt'11 give everyone a chance to get a feel for the album on its literary level, as well as on its equally impressive musical level.