RANDY EDELMAN Brings Decades Of Songs And Scores To His Fans at Chelsea Table + Stage

A multi-talented multi-hyphenate's highlights of a high-achieving career

By: Sep. 24, 2023
RANDY EDELMAN Brings Decades Of Songs And Scores To His Fans at Chelsea Table + Stage

The talented Randy Edelman – composer, lyricist, singer, pianist – brings a lot to the table and to the stage at Chelsea Table + Stage, and his regular appearances there present some highlights. It’s a long show, but, then again, it’s been a long career that started with playing piano in the pit for stage musicals and segued soon into writing and recording his own songs (mostly in the 1970s), leading to covers by other artists such as Patti LaBelle, Dionne Warwick, Rosemary Clooney, The Fifth Dimension, Nancy Wilson, Olivia Newton-John, and Nelly. We got to hear some of ’em from the guy who wrote ’em, some accompanied by anecdotes.  And, although it only got a passing comment in his program on September 22, who else can say his work was presented by both The Chipmunks as well as the London Symphony Orchestra — on the SAME soundtrack album? 

Yes, most of the Edelman output in recent decades has been for the big and small screen. His film score credits now number over 100.  I’m more of a music devotee than a movie buff, so I admit that I have NOT seen most of them — but I have sought out and enjoyed many of the soundtrack albums which, for me, stand on their own merits without conjuring up memories of visuals or emotions of a motion picture. To mangle a famous phrase, what you DON’T see is what you get with his evocative and melody-rich themes, many of which were rolled out in his series of montages in “And then I wrote” piano-only renditions. There were the engaging, ear-pleasing snatches from comedies in what he calls his “Ha Ha Medley” and examples of what he composed when he achieved his goal of scoring gigs to score more serious projects. So, during the evening he played music from — among others –  Gettysburg, The Mask, 27 Dresses, My Cousin Vinny, Come See the Paradise, a couple of movies about Beethoven (the big dog, not the guy who wrote symphonies), TV’s “MacGyver” theme, and, last but not least, The Last of the Mohicans. 

RANDY EDELMAN Brings Decades Of Songs And Scores To His Fans at Chelsea Table + Stage

I can’t really remember if, years ago, I started buying lots of albums with the name “Randy Edelman” on them because I’d heard and liked something he was singing and playing himself or because I especially admired material credited to him on other artists’ records. If the latter scenario is how the happy habit started, it was probably the voice of Karen Carpenter covering a simple love song simply titled “You” that simply delighted me with its sweetness. It was on a 1976 Carpenters LP which followed the songwriter’s own release the year before and Jane Olivor following suit the following year.  Wait—maybe it was Barry Manilow’s more ubiquitous hit record of “Weekend in New England” from the same time period.  Anyway, I was soon catching up, snatching up the singer-songwriter’s solo albums from the 1970s and ‘80s.  At the attractive venue Chelsea Table + Stage, Randy Edelman featured the title songs from some of these: If Love Is Real, Uptown Uptempo Woman, and The Laughter and the Tears, and other things from his repertoire. There’s understandably a bit of sandpaper in his voice nowadays, but it adds some character and doesn’t stand in the way of feelings and heart coming through. But it’s mostly a laid-back, ballad-heavy act with sincerity in the lyrics balanced by getting down to some down-to-earth irreverence in the behind-the-music-scenes stories. His command of the keyboard gave focus to the music and I didn’t feel any wish to have a bass player or drummer or backup singers, although I guess I wouldn’t have minded if the London Symphony Orchestra and The Chipmunks popped in. 

The set list was not confined to Edelman originals. He included “Concrete and Clay,” a pop hit from 1965 in the UK and USA by different artists and later recorded by others, including Randy Edelman. So, that didn’t surprise me, but I was puzzled (happily so) when he launched into “Mack the Knife” without any comment about a connection. And it had a welcome change-of-pace, change-of-attitude energy. He did mention that he was a friend and admirer of songwriter Joe Raposo to lead into “Bein’ Green,” the finest number ever introduced by an amphibian. His performance of Kermit the Frog’s anthem was heartfelt, even though the lyric was changed by accident or design in his green new deal.  

Chatty tales about interactions with Adam Sandler and others had the show biz human interest factor covered.  And what happened the month when one of the most iconic singers of all time was scheduled to record an Edelman number?  Would flattered Randy Edelman hear it on the radio or would his hearing, instead, the radio news bulletin that the superstar had suddenly died mean that the dream had died, too?  I suppose I’ll stop here before the Spoiler Alert Siren goes off. I think that’s the way our host prefers things.  His spoken set-ups for songs recorded by others seemed aimed at those who would be surprised at The Big Reveal, as the drawn-out “wait-for-it” tales avoided the names of famous folks or the song title under wraps until the final moment.  So, for several sentences they are referred to as “this person” or that certain song that got a negative reaction over and over until it drew the attention of the right person.

And the Edelman Story goes on, coming out with “Comin’ Out the Other Side” (a single with a lyric addressing surviving the pandemic with some optimism), new movies he’s scored that are coming down the pike, and a stage musical about the Panama Canal called Short Cut. And to quote a line from “Weekend in New England,” he’ll be “back in the city, where nothing is clear”...on December 9, again at Chelsea Table + Stage. What IS clear is that Randy Edelman keeps going strong. 

Photo credit: Billy Hess (both pics)

See the venue’s other events HERE:  https://chelseatableandstage.venuetix.com/

Address is 152 West 26 Street in Manhattan

Click HERE for the performer’s website www.randyedelman.com  


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