Two-disc collection from Newman's hellish '95 musical

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Randy Newman – Randy Newman’s Faust
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The participation of Don Henley, James Taylor, Linda Ronstadt and Elton John may put some off this 1995 musical update of Goethe’s 1808 play from LA’s sardonic master of soundtracks and cynicism, but there’s no denying the quality and bite of the songwriting on display here, and Newman makes a convincing Prince Of Darkness (“I got Las Vegas in my mind/Seem like it’s stuck up in there/Like it’s been there for all times”). Disc One is the full-fat version, with guests, choirs and orchestra playing out the divine comedy, but Disc Two is the motherlode, 20 original Newman demos featuring the man himself at the piano, giving directions and filling in for the string section. Unusually, the icing here proves more nutritious than the actual cake.