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Randy Newman, ‘Harps and Angels’ (Nonesuch)

He’s still way too fond of show-tune orchestration, and then there’s the tossed-off corny stuff, but the orneriness of Newman’s now-64-year-old wit makes George Carlin seem like Dane Cook. The narrator of the New Orleans–style title track learns nothing from a near-death experience, cheekily promotes “Korean Parents,” welcomes gaps in his memory (“Potholes”), and turns Jackson Browne into a snide punch line (“A Piece of the Pie”). The brilliantly nasty “A Few Words in Defense of Our Country” flattens any other anti-Bush rant — the Clarence Thomas joke is so mean The New York Times wouldn’t print it.

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Tags: Albums