Randy Newman's Faust

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Randy Newman's Faust
Studio album by Randy Newman
Released September 19, 1995
March 29, 2005 (expanded edition reissue)
Genre Musical, rock opera
Label Reprise/Warner Bros. Records
45672
Rhino/Atlantic Records (expanded edition reissue)
73785
Producer Peter Asher
Randy Newman chronology
Land of Dreams
(1988)
Randy Newman's Faust
(1995)
Guilty: 30 Years of Randy Newman
(1998)

Randy Newman's Faust is a 1995 musical by American musician and songwriter Randy Newman, who based the work on the classic story of Faust, borrowing elements from the version by Goethe, as well as Milton's Paradise Lost, but updating the story to the modern day, and infusing it with humorous cynicism. In this retelling, God and the Devil fight for the soul of Henry Faust, a student at the University of Notre Dame. The musical was performed at the La Jolla Playhouse in San Diego in Sept 1995, and the Goodman Theatre in Chicago in Sept 1996, as well as released as a CD as a concept album. In July of 2014, a stripped-down, modernized "concert" version was staged for Encores! at New York City Center.[1]

"Life Has Been Good to Me" was performed by French Stewart as Harry Solomon on "A Nightmare on Dick Street," an episode of NBC's 3rd Rock from the Sun.

History[edit]

Randy Newman's Faust first had a limited run at La Jolla Playhouse in San Diego in September 1995, which coincided with the release of a concept album version, featuring a different cast and arrangements than the stage version. The stage production, directed by Michael Greif was praised for its score, but criticized for its script and characters.[2]

The script was rewritten by David Mamet for the second production, in Chicago's Goodman Theatre. This production, featuring the same principal cast, suffered similar criticisms that its script was still not the equal of its score. It ran from September 30 to November 2.[3]

On July 1, 2014, New York City Center's Encores! staged a one-night-only performance of the show. This version was stripped down for a more minimal "concert" presentation and heavily rewritten. As on the album (but unlike earlier stage versions), Newman himself assumed the role of Lucifer, alongside a new cast that included Isiah Johnson, Tony Vincent, Laura Osnes, and Vonda Shepard.[4]

Critical reception[edit]

Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
AllMusic 2/5 stars[5]
Chicago Tribune 2.5/4 stars[6]
Robert Christgau A[7]
Entertainment Weekly A[8]
Rolling Stone 3/5 stars[9]

In a contemporary review for Playboy, music critic Robert Christgau found the album's vivid songs and musical comedy settings ideal for Newman's "high-spirited cynicism": "Musical comedy is the perfect medium for his unique synthesis of soundtrack grandeur, blues-savvy studio rock, and general Americana."[10] He named it the fifth best album of the year.[11] However, Faust only finished 87th in the voting for the Pazz & Jop, an annual critics poll run by The Village Voice.[12] Al Weisel of Rolling Stone was critical of songs like "Little Island" and "Northern Boy", which he felt deviate from the storyline, although he called the album "the best work in years for all involved".[9]

CD cast[edit]

Track listing[edit]

All songs written and composed by Randy Newman

Disc One
No. Title Performer(s) Length
1. "Glory Train"   Randy Newman, James Taylor 4:44
2. "Can't Keep a Good Man Down"   Randy Newman 2:45
3. "How Great Our Lord"   James Taylor 2:42
4. "Best Little Girl"   Randy Newman 2:28
5. "Northern Boy"   James Taylor, Randy Newman 2:55
6. "Bless The Children of the World"   Don Henley 3:50
7. "Gainesville"   Linda Ronstadt 3:30
8. "Relax, Enjoy Yourself"   James Taylor, Randy Newman, Kristyn Liang-chan 5:41
9. "Life Has Been Good To Me"   Bonnie Raitt 3:28
10. "Little Island"   Elton John 3:20
11. "The Man"   Don Henley, Randy Newman 3:14
12. "My Hero"   Linda Ronstadt 2:35
13. "I Gotta Be Your Man"   Randy Newman 2:31
14. "Feels Like Home"   Bonnie Raitt 4:26
15. "Bleeding All Over the Place"   Randy Newman, Bonnie Raitt 4:15
16. "Sandman's Coming"   Linda Ronstadt 2:41
17. "Happy Ending"   Randy Newman 3:21
Disc Two (2005 expanded edition reissue only)
  1. "Pass On Over" [Demo]
  2. "How Great Our Lord" [Demo]
  3. "Each Perfect Day" [Demo]
  4. "Best Little Girl" [Demo]
  5. "It Was Beautiful" [Demo]
  6. "Northern Boy" [Demo]
  7. "Bless The Children of the World" [Demo]
  8. "Damn Fine Day" [Demo]
  9. "March Of The Protestants" [Demo]
  10. "Little Island" [Demo]
  11. "The Man" [Demo]
  12. "Love Time" [Demo]
  13. "Relax, Enjoy Yourself" [Demo]
  14. "When Love Is in the Air" [Demo]
  15. "Gainesville Florida" [Demo]
  16. "Life Has Been Good to Me" [Demo]
  17. "My Hero" [Demo]
  18. "Hard Currency" [Demo]
  19. "Sandman's Coming" [Demo]
  20. "Basin Street Blues" [Demo]

Personnel[edit]

References[edit]