Monday, August 31, 2009

Album of the Day #167: HARRY - Harry Nilsson

Artist: Harry Nilsson

Title: HARRY
Year: 1969
Label: RCA
Songs: The Puppy Song/Nobody Cares About The Railroad Anymore/Open Your Window/Mother Nature's Son*/Fairfax Rag**/City Life**/Mournin' Glory Story/Maybe/Marchin' Down Broadway/I Guess The Lord Must Be In New York City/Rainmaker^/Mr. Bojangles^^/Simon Smith And The Amazing Dancing Bear+
Written by: Harry Nilsson, except *John Lennon & Paul McCartney, **Bill Martin, ^Harry Nilsson & Bill Martin, ^^Jerry Jeff Walker and +Randy Newman
A Nilsson House Production ("Open Your Window", "Mournin' Glory Story", "Marchin' Down Broadway" and "Rainmaker" produced by Rick Jarrard, remixed by Nilsson House Productions)
Thoughts: When you look at all the major artists out there, it truly is fascinating how many third albums prove to truly optimize everything there is to like about the artist.
HARRY, Nilsson's third album is exactly that. It defines Harry Nilsson as the wonderful songwriter and singer that reaches a dramatic climax with Nilsson Schmilsson. All the ingredients are there...the only thing missing was the commercial success to prove it.
The album kicks off with the amazingly cute "The Puppy Song" and then takes a complete left-turn with the old-timely "Nobody Cares About The Railroad Anymore". There's "Open Your Window", which, along with "Maybe" proves that he could pull off a fantastic, sentimental love song just as good as the next person. The rest of the originals are just as good, with the story of a homeless woman found in "Mournin' Glory Story" and the ode to American post-WWII optimism of "Marchin' Down Broadway". The single was the very pretty "I Guess The Lord Must Be In New York City". The song borrows a little bit of "Everybody's Talkin'"'s melody, but other than that, it is easily one of Nilsson's best songs.
Although Ariel Ballet had only one cover ("Everybody's Talkin'"), HARRY has five. "Mother Nature's Son" is a very faithful reading of The Beatles number, save for the interesting idea of swapping the brass for a full string section. Bill Martin's "Fairfax Rag" and "City Life" are perfect for Nilsson and fit well into the sense of nostalgic Americana that runs through the album. Martin also wrote "Rainmaker" with Nilsson. The fantastic track is too impressive for the fate RCA gave it (throwing a completely different mix on the B-Side of "Everybody's Talkin'") and easily proves that "Jump Into The Fire" was not the first time Nilsson rocked it out. Great performances of "Mr. Bojangles" and Randy Newman's "Simon Smith And The Amazing Dancing Bear" conclude the album.
HARRY proves that before "Without You" and the success of Nilsson Schmilsson, Nilsson was a force to be reckoned with. I only wish it had a better chart showing. Although "I Guess The Lord..." hit #40 on Billboard, the album itself stalled at #120. It really makes me wish I was around in 1969 to knock some sense into the people that bought the "I Guess The Lord..." 45 without buying the LP.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

If you're a Nilsson fan you should check this place out.