on 23 September 2011
This album takes me back, and I mean (now) way back to the beginning of the 1970's, when music like this was still created and might have been considered "commercial" - emotion-filled stories that took you on a real journey throughout the entire album.
There are very few albums from that time that took you all the way, however: Gilbert O'Sullivan's "Back To Front," 10cc's "The Original Soundtrack," or even Paul McCartney's "Venus and Mars," but on this album of remembrances and experimentation, it's odd to listen to such a mish-mash of feelings about the songwriting talent of the one and only Harry Nilsson without wondering why he did what he did, which was to create some wonderful music one minute and then take the brass ring and toss it into the river.
I don't profess to know every nuance of every song here, or will I try to. I've listened to it a few times,and overall I liked it. I felt good on some songs, sad on others, and I simply laughed on a few, especially the rambling and repetitive "Joy," which sounded like a hoot.
Was the cosmic joke on me by listening to what some critics have called a 'quickly rushed out project to cash in on his fame of the moment,' or was this Harry's attempt to grow, to play, and to simply enjoy what he was doing and using that "fame" to put this out? I prefer the latter reason.
The copy I have is the 1990 CD, and has the 11 tracks from the original album. The sound is crisp, the music is free and Harry has never sounded better. I have heard other albums by Harry, but this is the first album by him I've decided to review.
To be honest, I don't think I want to hear the extra tracks given out as freebees for the collectors on subsequent releases, because if they were meant to be released, Harry would have put them there. I think as the 11 tracks go, from the ultra-depressing and thought-evoking "Remember (Christmas)" to the outright happy/angry middle finger of "You're Breaking My Heart," the music ranges from the upper registers of happiness to the depths of bitterness and anger, of being loved, of being left behind, or maybe it's that our Harry has done something dirty in the dark and decided to exercise some of his own demons here?
Either way, I loved the lyrics, loved the bounciness of the music, and even in the more depressing moments, he still managed to inject his own twisted humor into the words to make you laugh even as you pause and feel sorry for the guy a bit.
Think about this: you really are laughing at him, and not with him. And I didn't think on this album he didn't care, because this wasn't put out to capitalize on anything that the record executives wanted - this is an album filled with hope, depression, anger, humor, and pretty much anything he wanted, because they gave him free rein to create whatever he wanted to, and at the time this wasn't so easy.
Harry Nilsson is best remembered for many of the songs not associated with this album by the greedy selfish shallow public of the early 1970's, and there are some who've called him a one-hit wonder on the oldies radio, but I don't think I can pass this up without enjoying it every time I've listened to it. There are definite "hits" here of a kind, but the kind that make a much better impact than just selling 45's off the shelves.
According to most fans of Harry, he can do no wrong. I'll be honest here, I think he didn't here, and for me, the gamble paid off. I'm a fan. I'll be getting more albums to listen to in the future and checking out the legend that is Harry Nilsson. If John Lennon liked him, why not me?
Please, pick up a copy.
P.S. - I only gave it 4 stars because I can't really give just every album I rate 5 stars. This was a interesting album, to say the least, but not a great album, so I had to be honest.
(Thanks for reading, and check out my other reviews!)