The profound musical gifts of Harry Nilsson are on full display in THE RCA ALBUMS COLLECTION. This deluxe 17-CD box set, available now, presents Nilsson’s definitive 14 U.S. albums from RCA. Bonus material on those albums add up to 65 tracks, of which 26 are previously unreleased. Adding to the box set’s historical provenance are three newly-compiled CDs containing 58 tracks, of which an additional 29 tracks are previously unreleased.
In this first ever full-length biography, author Alyn Shipton traces Harry Nilsson’s life from his Brooklyn childhood to his Los Angeles adolescence and his gradual emergence as a uniquely talented singer-songwriter. With interviews from friends, family, and associates, and material drawn from an unfinished autobiography, Shipton probes beneath the enigma to discover the real Harry Nilsson. The book is in stores now.
A wildly entertaining, star-studded documentary that tells the story of Harry Nilsson. Director John Scheinfeld brings added emotion and intimacy to the story with over 50 Nilsson recordings, rare or never-before-seen film clips, home movies and personal photos. The DVD also contains 93 minutes of Bonus Material Deleted Scenes, Extended Sequences, an Alternate Ending and more.
Tapping Harry Nilsson to score the filmed musical of Popeye was Robert Altman in maverick mode. The results can be considered either mad or inspired, depending on how you look at it. You’ve got Harry’s songs about a cartoon sailor, Robin Williams and Ray Walston out-hamming each other on lead “vocals,” and drunken sea shanty instrumentation and arrangements courtesy of Van Dyke Parks. It’s not surprising then that the end result turned out a bit… ham-fisted? The studio-recorded soundtrack album does not quite match the tracks heard in the film, during which the actors sang some of the songs live.
Harry is all over this album (writing/performing), even if his vocals are not. For instance, “Swee’Pea’s Lullaby” begins with clanging instrumentation fully reminiscent of 1967’s “She Sang Hymns Out Of Tune.” Popeye is worth owning for many reasons, but especially for the Shelley Duvall vehicle, “He Needs Me.” It’s Harry at his most simple and endearing, aided by Duvall’s off-key charm and Parks’ dockside atmospherics (many know the tune from the 2002 film, Punch-Drunk Love). The 2010 Japanese CD version is recommended.
I Yam What I Yam
He Needs Me
Blow Me Down
It’s Not Easy Bein’ Me
I’m Popeye The Sailor Man