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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Fantastic Read
This is a wonderful biography of one of the truly great singer-songwriters. It will have you crying with laughter and weeping with sadness. Full of information about Harry's younger life, details of his struggle to make it and a no-holds barred account of his tragic decline and untimely (but probably expected) death. A gripping read from start to finish. I really enjoyed...
Published 12 months ago by Boswell

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2 of 9 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Biography no
It is very boring just a list of Nilsson work, its not at all interesting, he was just such a wonderful singer
Published 10 months ago by Mrs J Garcia


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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Fantastic Read, 19 Aug 2013
By 
Boswell (Cheshire UK) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Nilsson: The Life of a Singer-Songwriter (Hardcover)
This is a wonderful biography of one of the truly great singer-songwriters. It will have you crying with laughter and weeping with sadness. Full of information about Harry's younger life, details of his struggle to make it and a no-holds barred account of his tragic decline and untimely (but probably expected) death. A gripping read from start to finish. I really enjoyed the descriptions of how Harry put each album together. He was obviously adored by the majority of people he worked with, befriended or loved. I've been a fan of the music of Nilsson for over 45 years but after reading Alan Shiptons well researched book I now feel that I actually know Harry. Recommended.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Fine biography - don't judge this book by its cover..., 14 Nov 2013
By 
Agnes Andrea - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Nilsson: The Life of a Singer-Songwriter (Hardcover)
Harry Nilsson deserved a good biography, and Mr. Alyn Shipton has done a fine job of it.

Mr. Shipton's book has a couple of really strong points:

First, he had access to the Nilsson family and the Nilsson Estate, and in particular to the unfinished autobiography Nilsson was composing, both in form of recorded tapes (the "oral" autobiography) and written drafts (the "draft" autobiography)
So there's quite a deal of fresh input. By the way, the quoted parts of Nilsson's draft autobiography are extremely well written and full of humour... too bad he didn't have the chance to complete it...

Second, Mr. Shipton is a musician himself - unlike so many "music critics" who couldn't tell a major chord from a minor one if their lives depended on it - and therefore his primary focus is always the music (the songwriting and recording process, the production choices) rather than the personal/sordid/gossipy bits. Which are there, of course, it's "hell raiser" Nilsson we're talking about after all. But the spotlight is always on the artist and on his music first.

To be perfectly fair, it must also be said that Shipton draws, I mean, A LOT, from director John Scheinfeld & LSL Productions' documentary film "Who is Harry Nilsson? (And Why Is Everybody Talkin' About Him)". This film is truly a must-see for any Nilsson fan, a 5-star treasure trove of interviews and archive material, currently available as a Region-free DVD which adds about 90' of bonus material, making it about 3 hours of material. I really advice any Nilsson fan to give it a look.

Shipton's book is also (very slightly) marred by a few minor omissions (Nilsson's 1968 BBC session for "Saturday Club with Brian Matthew" goes totally indiscussed, only passingly mentioned in a quote from Nilsson's then wife: and yet it's the rarest of the events, being one of the the very few occasions Nilsson performed [and recorded] live in public); and there is the odd disputable assertion ("In 1967 the Monkees were the closest thing America had to the Beatles" - well I don't know really... what about the Beach Boys?) and a bit of shaky judgement here and there (I honestly don't believe 1976's "...That's the Way It Is" to be better than the previous two records... and when discussing "Duit on Mon Dei", the author completely forgets "Puget Sound", the little gem of the album and the closest things to Nilsson's early stuff; and utterly fails to aknowledge the incredible duet with Gloria Jones on "What's Your Sign").

But all considered, a very fine book.

The only thing that really puzzles me is the cover picture. I've seen dozens of portraits of Nilsson, some of them funny, others witty, or moving, or all these things combined and then some... but the publishers decided to go with the most dull, insignificant, nondescript picture of Nilsson I've ever seen... Do these people know anything about marketing and advertising?
Don't they know that a good cover alone could consistently improve sales figures?...
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Nilsson Bio, 22 May 2014
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This review is from: Nilsson: The Life of a Singer-Songwriter (Hardcover)
It's been a long wait for an in depth look at Nilsson's life and recording career and this book fills the void superbly. Well sourced quotes and even draws from Nilsson's personal papers. The book is well paced, well written and well worth the few bob it costs. An interesting thing to see if that Nilsson put down an oral bio of his life while also getting some march on the written one but it was left incomplete at the time of his death. Having reacquired by Nilsson love through Shipton's book I'd be very interested to see if something could be put together by his estate and see some more of this material. Hope this helps any prospective buyers.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A true tragedy - a great man destroyed by a fatal flaw, 21 Sep 2013
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This review is from: Nilsson: The Life of a Singer-Songwriter (Hardcover)
This is a superb book about one of the greatest singers and finest songwriters ever. Unfortunately, Harry Nilsson was also a dreadful alcoholic and drug addict, which damaged his voice, sank his career and ultimately killed him far too young.

The insights here are astonishing and will make you reappraise even the latter works of his career, long considered - unfairly - to have no merit.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting, even for non Nilsson fans., 13 Sep 2013
By 
Alistair Riddell (UK) - See all my reviews
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The book`s a highly detailed account of Harry Nilsson`s life and suibsequent tragic ending. Beginning, with the early years and in many ways the source later, of a number of his songs, it goes systematically through the cause & effect of events in his ultimate, self destruction.

In the days of instant fame & commercial / financial success leading to equally rapid obscurity, some will disbelieve the early days years of struggles, to succeed.

Sometimes, there is an excess of detail, but the book is well researched & a good source material, for anyone `discovering` one of the most unique singers & songwriters, of C20th. Definitely, worth listening to the early days material; however, you have to understand the humour as well as the lyrics, or you`ll miss some of the unique flavour of his songs & production techniques, and why things just happened, as they did.

Almost everything in his life was an extreme. So much talent, so much lost.

However, it`s a recommended read; then listen to the songs.

4star, because I found it a bit overdetailed, at times. Not a major fault; some will love the detail.

Still a fan, after all these years.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting read, 28 Jan 2014
By 
E. Russell (UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Nilsson: The Life of a Singer-Songwriter (Hardcover)
Harry Nilsson was a very gifted singer and occasional songwriter. Sadly his fondness for the good life led to his physical and professional demise. The author is quite kind to Nilsson by exaggerating the merits of his work post Richard Perry. Nevertheless the book does detail Harry's life and all the celebrities he met and partied with. The sad fact remains that Nilsson never performed live and that his greatest hits Without You and Everybody's Takin were written by other artists. Maybe he wasn't quite the genius the author thinks he was.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars, 14 Aug 2014
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This review is from: Nilsson: The Life of a Singer-Songwriter (Hardcover)
thanks
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2 of 9 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Biography no, 2 Nov 2013
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This review is from: Nilsson: The Life of a Singer-Songwriter (Hardcover)
It is very boring just a list of Nilsson work, its not at all interesting, he was just such a wonderful singer
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Nilsson: The Life of a Singer-Songwriter
Nilsson: The Life of a Singer-Songwriter by Alyn Shipton (Hardcover - 8 Aug 2013)
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