18 Songs, 54 Minutes

EDITORS’ NOTES

Following the wooly rock ‘n’ roll exorcism of Son of Schmilsson, and the confusion that followed it, Harry Nilsson did the most uncool thing possible: he hired an arranger from the ‘40s and put out an album of pre-World War II-era standards. As a student of songcraft Nilsson was already well-versed in the works of Irving Berlin, Gus Kahn and Howard Arlen, but rather than roll out a new round of stodgy renditions, he invested in these performances a singular tone, and therefore they sound modern rather than antique. Nilsson had long been fond of a particular swaying, woozy rhythm, and that imprint is all over this album, from “Always” to “It Had To Be You” to “What’ll I Do.” In Nilsson’s hands these aren’t so much songs as they are memories of songs. Gordon Jenkins’ arrangements are as detailed and finely woven as an embroidered frock, and producer Derek Taylor captures every sound in microscopic detail. The heart of the album belongs to Nilsson’s vocals. Through the verses of several long-dead lyricists he manages to express himself with withering, aching clarity.

EDITORS’ NOTES

Following the wooly rock ‘n’ roll exorcism of Son of Schmilsson, and the confusion that followed it, Harry Nilsson did the most uncool thing possible: he hired an arranger from the ‘40s and put out an album of pre-World War II-era standards. As a student of songcraft Nilsson was already well-versed in the works of Irving Berlin, Gus Kahn and Howard Arlen, but rather than roll out a new round of stodgy renditions, he invested in these performances a singular tone, and therefore they sound modern rather than antique. Nilsson had long been fond of a particular swaying, woozy rhythm, and that imprint is all over this album, from “Always” to “It Had To Be You” to “What’ll I Do.” In Nilsson’s hands these aren’t so much songs as they are memories of songs. Gordon Jenkins’ arrangements are as detailed and finely woven as an embroidered frock, and producer Derek Taylor captures every sound in microscopic detail. The heart of the album belongs to Nilsson’s vocals. Through the verses of several long-dead lyricists he manages to express himself with withering, aching clarity.

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Ratings and Reviews

4.9 out of 5
55 Ratings
55 Ratings
Loghouse Teacher ,

Romantic music, some with a humorous twist

Beautiful music by a beautiful soul.

Grebmeyac ,

Brilliant

I'm just awestruck and by his voice. Brilliant. Such a beautiful performance of Berlin's "Always". This stuff never gets old. Timeless.

Prideful Terrier ,

My Hero

Plain and simple. The most consumately gifted musician of his time.

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