Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Harry Nilsson - Son of Schmilsson

Harry Nilsson – Son of Schmilsson
RCA, 1972
Acquired: Half Price Books, Used, 2010
Price: $2

It's funny how a guy who sings about singing his balls off in the chorus of the first song on this record achieved any sort of acclaim. I mean, I get his version of “Without You,” and every time I hear it I think it's some cheesy power ballad before realzing it's Nilsson and it's really endearing and heartbreaking, but “Coconut,” really? How is that popular! IT IS SO WEIRD! Anyway, speaking of weird, SON OF SCHMILSSON, which features Nilsson dressed as a vampire on the cover, which is why I bought it, because that is awesome. It's an incredibly indulgent record, but masterfully pulled off by one of the few people who can do indulgent because, goddamnit, the man is just plain gifted. Just look at the country twang of “Joy.” This should sound hokey but he delivers it with a faux-Johnny Cash drawl and great wit and somehow this works. Some day I will tell Jenny that “I want to make her feel all clammy inside,” which is both weird and kind of sweet...in a weird way. And then BAM the 70s soft rock greatness of “Turn on Your Radio.” It just hits. Nilsson's vocals are so smooth, warm, etc, and Richard Perry's production encapsulates it in a neat little sonic package, picking out the finger picked guitar and layering the woodwinds just right. Are there even woodwinds on that song? It sounds like there are. And then, another fucking amazing transition into “You're Breaking My Heart.” It's jarring as hell but again, it works because this off the cuff shit is Nilsson's great talent. “You're breakin' my heart/ You're tearin' it apart/ So fuck you,” he sings. Dig it. Sweet record.

I think this video is highly appropriate:

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