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Son of Schmilsson

Harry Nilsson

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Album Review

Emboldened by a huge hit and hanging with Lennon and Starr, Harry Nilsson was ready to let it all go when it came time to record a follow-up to Nilsson Schmilsson. The very title of Son of Schmilsson implies that it's a de facto sequel to its smash predecessor but, as always with Nilsson, don't take everything at face value. Yes, he's back with producer Richard Perry and he's working from the same gleefully melodic, polished pop/rock territory as before, but this is an incredibly schizoid record; an album by an enormously gifted musician deciding that, since he's already becoming unhinged, he might as well indulge himself while he's at it. And, wow, are the results ever worth it. Opening with a song to a groupie — he sang his balls off, baby, he nearly broke the microphone — and ending with an ode to "The Most Beautiful World in the World," this record careens all over the place, bouncing from one idea to another, punctuated with B-horror movie sound effects, bizarre humor, profanity, and belches. There are song parodies, seemingly straight piano ballads, vulgar hard rock, lovely love songs, and a cheerful singalong with retirees at an old folks home who all proclaim, "I'd rather be dead than wet my bed." The sheer perversity of it all would be fascinating, yet if that's all it had to offer, it'd merely be a curiosity, the way his post-Pussy Cats records are. Instead, this is all married to a fantastic set of songs that illustrate what a skilled, versatile songsmith Nilsson was. No, it may not be the easiest album to warm to — and it's just about the weirdest record to reach number 12 and go gold — but if you appreciate Nilsson's musicality and weirdo humor, he never got any better. [This edition contains bonus tracks.]

Biography

Born: 15 June 1941 in Brooklyn, NY

Genre: Pop

Years Active: '50s, '60s, '70s, '80s, '90s

Although he synthesized disparate elements of both rock and pop traditions, singer/songwriter Harry Nilsson was at heart a maverick whose allegiance belonged to neither. His initial series of albums in the late '60s made him a personal favorite of the Beatles, who found a natural affinity with his knack for catchy melodies, witty lyrics, and extraordinary vocal range. Thought of as a songwriter first and a performer second, he became a pop star himself in the late '60s and early '70s with "Everybody's...
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