Personnel: Randy Newman (piano); Randy Newman (vocals); Jimmy Bond, Wilton Felder (bass instrument); Russ Titelman, Ry Cooder (guitar); Abe Most (alto saxophone); Earl Palmer , Gene Parsons, Jim Keltner (drums); Milt Holland (percussion).
Audio Mixer: Lee Herschberg.
Audio Remasterer: Daniel Hersch.
Liner Note Authors: Randy Newman; David Wild.
Recording information: Amigo Studio, Los Angeles, CA; Poppi Studios, Los Angeles, CA; Western Studios, Los Angeles, CA.
Photographers: Carl Samrock; Chuck Pulin; Hal Moore; Mike Salisbury.
Though 1968's RANDY NEWMAN introduced a major songwriting talent, and 1970's 12 SONGS still stands among the artist's best work, 1972'S SAIL AWAY has the strength and sophistication of an immediate, indisputable classic. Combining the lush orchestration of his debut with 12 SONG's lean, small-combo sound, SAIL AWAY marks Newman's prowess as a composer and arranger of the first order. His ear for melody, instrumentation, and the literary, often scathingly satiric nature of his lyrics are applied to perfection. The title track, a beautiful piano-strings duet sung from the point of view of a slave ship captain enticing Africans to America, is a case in point.
Every song on SAIL AWAY is memorable, from the tongue-in-cheek cabaret lament "Lonely At The Top" to the whimsical ragtime of "Simon Smith and the Amazing Dancing Bear" to the deliciously ironic and astute "Political Science." Newman can go from rock-inspired slink ("Last Night I Had A Dream") to charmingly lyrical ("Dayton, Ohio--1903) to fiercely caustic ("God's Song (That's Why I Love Mankind)"-- a song narrated from God's point of view about the stupidity of humanity), yet his writing is always infused with intelligence, wit, and piercing insight. That Newman's songcraft and musical textures are impeccable only adds to stature of this excellent record.
Rolling Stone (7/6/72, p.56) - "...further confirmation of the fact that Newman is our most sophisticated art-song composer...SAIL AWAY is Newman's most mature album, a work of genius..."
Entertainment Weekly (6/7/02, pp.76-7) - "...A masterpiece...When it comes to the 'untrustworthy narrator', the territory is Newman's own. They don't come nastier than the slave trader serenading Africans in SAIL's title track..." - Rating: A
Q (p.128) - 3 stars out of 5 -- "[I]t does a fine job of putting the emphasis where it should be: the songs. Steve Earle has fun with the scabrous 'Rednecks'..."
Q (8/00, p.120) - 4 stars out of 5 - "...One of [his] best albums....his succinct, evocative songs embrace more fully the complexities of the darker side of US society...and the more poignant aspects of family life..."
Mojo (Publisher) (p.112) - 3 stars out of 5 -- "No one does slyness like him, but several try here...[with] agreeable results."
Mojo (Publisher) (8/00, p.115) - "...Blackly funny, poignantly sentimental, witty, wistful and superbly orchestrated, it fused a traditional, Gershwin-via-Tin Pan Alley Americana with a wickedly un-American irony..."