Randy Newman (1968)
A terrific but not exactly debut album; Newman’s songs had been recorded by others, like Jerry Butler and The O’Jays, for dance and radio fodder in the U.S. and U.K. since the early ’60s. It was a great record for people who wished for intelligent humor in music but couldn’t abide Frank Zappa.
Good Old Boys (1974)
Look for the Rhino reissue, which comes with the bonus disc Johnny Cutler’s Birthday. These 12 songs were originally part of a larger concept, and on JCB, Newman speaks the segues between the musical vignettes that form the songs. The result may be the funniest opera in the English language.
Little Criminals (1977)
Introduced most of the radio-listening public to Newman with a delightfully confusing tongue-in-cheek single dissing “Short People.”
Monsters, Inc. soundtrack (2001)
Oscar for Best Song, “If I Didn’t Have You.” Says Newman: “It’s not one of my best songs, but that’s the way those things work. When I die, it will say ‘Oscar winner’ in my obit.”
Cars soundtrack (2004)
Grammy for Song (“Our Town”); Newman’s first platinum record.