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
57 Ratings
57 Ratings
RhapsodyInBlue 1962 ,

A Romantic Interlude...

I remember hearing this album on LP in the early 70's as my mother, a true romantic, played these old standards over and over again. Gordon Jenkins' phenominal orchestration combined with Harry Nilsson's smooth vocals make this a pleasure to listen to. The unique method that was used to link the songs/tracks together (it plays better on the original LP) using bits and pieces of other songs on the album for intros and segways was original. This album flows. A bit of trivia on the album cover stated that Lazy Moon was never recorded before; it was first sung by Oliver Hardy in Pardon Us. The song Lullabye in Ragtime was written by Silvia Fine, wife of Three Stooges member Larry Fine for his movie "Five Pennies".

An American in Paris ,

Music for a Darkened Room

Is there a better album produced of this type of music? Harry Nilsson's voice and Gordon Jenkins arrangements make this an album for the ages. Although these songs have been sung by others such as Sinatra, Harry Nilsson remarkably makes these his own. The first time I ever listened to this album was in a room romantically lit by the light of a fire in a fireplace, listening to these classic songs with the first woman I ever truly loved some thirty-five years ago. Although the relationship with her didn't last, my love for this album has. The album cover is wickedly droll and perhaps has put off some would-be listeners. If you are a romantic, take a chance, buy this album, listen to it in a darkened room with - or without - someone you love, and let the music carry you away.

gmonet ,

His Favorite

Perhaps from his well known love for melody, or just love of sentimental lyrics, this collection of standards superceded all the lack luster pop-star nostalgia that was to follow deacdes later with no where near the fenesse' or purity.

This efort was a rish for both artist and label, but it succeeded beyond anyone's belief. Nilsson's voice was never purer, Jenkins' arrangments never better, and the London Symphony members more in synch.

The songs are almost infamous in their own right, but you must see the video documnetary " Who Is Harry Nilsson?" to understand why these songs and why "now" in his recording history. The songs Nilsson is recognized by are greater than his own personal recognition...over half questioned one time did not know who he was, but recognized all his tunes.

"As Time Goes By" would aptly be the best closing of this set, but any song here is a fiting to see why he did this noble project and should be testimony to it being his personal favorite.

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