Friday, April 24, 2015

bus vibes #4 - nilsson (harry)

hello there

well, more bus vibes. as mentioned in the last post, thursday, which in my time was yesterday, struck me as being, on the whole, a very good day indeed to listen to some Nilsson. that's Harry Nilsson. as in, Nilsson and Harry Nilsson are one in the same. you know this, look you see, and i know this, but Apple do not, for they have split his box set of albums on my ipod across those two names.

i opted, dear reader, to listen to Nilsson with a difference. when the mood takes me to listen to some Nilsson (which is often) and i get the chance (which is not quite so often), usually that means Nilsson Schmilson, an album i love dearly and the one i would suggest you listen to. now. actually, one of the nicest things ever said to me was by my mate Payney, who said i looked similar to Harry on the cover of that album. but anyway, on to the two albums i listened to which were not that one.

by the way, let us not fanny around with links to each individual album. rather just, if you are interested in Harry, click here and see the magnificent box set you can get for, at time of going to print, less than £40. and it is only missing one official album.

the official album missing was his final one, Flash Harry. what i was listening to, then, was the indeed as you have noted oddly named Knnillsson. why this one? it just popped up when i was going through the albums under both names that Apple recognize him as.

is it any good? yes, and sort of not so yes. this is the album, i am led to believe, that Harry liked the most as he was happiest with his vocals on this.

i beg to differ. whereas there is nothing at all wrong with his vocals on this, they are not quite as strong or as resounding as they were on albums before. several years, perhaps, of drink, drugs, partying with The Beatles and, in particular, partying with Keith Moon, has some sort of impact on a person. a very, very fortunate and happy impact, granted.

anyway, Harry liked it, and so did the label. they had, by all accounts, an absolutely massive promotion push in place for this, to let the people know that Nilsson had an album out, that it was boss and that you should buy it. and then along came the rather contentious claim that The King, Elvis Presley had died, and so instead they spent all the money on promoting the sale of His records. with some spectacular success. as a consequence, this album did not sell at all well. 

the reaction to this from the record labels was to embark on a series of real, assumed, false and infrequently bizarre claims that certain musicians had died in order to sell their records. this went on over for a decade, and reached something of a zenith with Roy Orbison. the reaction to this from Harry was mostly one of going off to record some stuff with Eric Idle, going off to record some demo versions of songs for the film Popeye, and then pretty much opting out of recording. 

a snippet of the album, in the way that has become custom with these bus vibes posts? sure. doable.

i want to love this album because Harry loved it. i, alas, can only appreciate it and enjoy listening to it every now and then. if that makes me "not a proper fan" then so be it; but i rather like to think it just speaks of the insanely high quality of his other works.

like, for instance, Pandemonium Shadow Show. which is, like, wow, amazing, brilliant, boss, epic. basically, any word that you like which is a positive or good thing can be applied to this record, and that is to the stereo or the mono version, both of which are on the CD.

why is it so good then? outstanding song composition, a fantastic band performance, an incredible set of vocal deliveries and some inspired choice of cover versions.

the album is perhaps best known, outside of Harry's Beatles love-in, for the songs 1941 and Cuddly Toy. in the case of the former, a truly heart-wrenching, soul bearing autobiographical work, laced with self-condemnation, regret and distress. in regards of the latter, well, you can listen to it and accept it as a nice little ditty at face value. or you could go right ahead and read up on the origins of the song, learn what it's all about and go "oh, blimey". i would probably advocate just listening to the song as it is and leave it to your own thoughts and mind as to what it is, so long as you enjoy it.

acting as a quasi-bookend to 1941 is an inspired choice of a cover of River Deep Mountain High. considering the lyrical content on the go through his own compositions, this was clearly not selected just because it sounded good. and it does sound good, as you can sort of make out in this snippet.

Harry, as i would be sure is the case with most artists, did get somewhat frustrated by the fact that he was better known for his covers than his original works. it was the case, though, that no one was really aware of the fact that things like Without You and Everybody's Talkin' were cover versions. when Harry did a song, he took total ownership of it.

Harry would be all but peerless in regards of doing this. his only equal to taking ownership of the songs of others is surely limited to Mr Sinatra. when one thinks, for instance, of the song Theme From New York, New York, they imagine the Mr Sinatra version. everyone forgets, or remains blissfully unaware, of the fact that the song started off life as coming from a really sh!t Martin Scorsese film.

yes, i appreciate this blog post could have just been "Harry Nilsson is good, go listen". but thanks for reading anyhow. sorry if this is lacking in info or insights; his music more or less says it all, and anyway far better people have me have said more of him far better than i ever could.

what did i listen to today? Jonny Granville's new album in the morning; Derek Bowie in the afternoon. but we will have a gander and a bit of a listen to that in the next post on topic.

be excellent to each other!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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