In October of 1977, Randy Newman released his sixth album, Little Criminals. The LP would be Newman’s first gold record and include his first hit single (reaching #2 on Billboard’s Hot 100), “Short People” — a satirical song about the prejudiced views of a lunatic that would be misinterpreted as an anthem of hate.
My favorite track on the disc is “Baltimore,” featuring backing vocals by Glenn Frey & J.D. Souther, Frey also on guitar, Willie Weeks on bass, Andy Newmark & Rick Marotta on drums, and Milt Holland on percussion.
Mattthew Greenfield from All Music sums it up best in his review of the song:
“Easily one of Randy Newman’s most underrated songs, ‘Baltimore’ is a fabulous, downcast, and heavy ballad.The subject matter of the city in the title is almost secondary. At the time when Newman wrote this in the mid-’70s, he really could have been writing about almost any major urban city that was going through a depressed economy. The imagery of the lonesome seagull in a polluted harbor is particularly striking, and very representative of a losing battle against nature. Musically, it’s equally as brilliant, propelled by a soulful series of riffs and chord changes that accurately mirror the subject matter.”