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.
Released in 1966, Spotlight On Nilsson was Harry’s first album, though in reality, most of these tracks were actually his 45 A & B-sides cut during two studio sessions for Tower Records, long before his proper RCA debut, Pandemonium Shadow Show. These recordings actually date back as far as 1964, when Tower (an offshoot of Capitol Records) first signed Harry. At that time, Nilsson was still writing material he thought he might be able to sell to other artists, and while his singing is enthusiastic, there’s not a whole lot of “Harry” to be found on this early vinyl of Spotlight On Nilsson. Even the outside material is a song publisher’s smorgasbord – from Dylan’s protest sneer (“The Path That Leads To Trouble”) to surf party rock ‘n roll (“I’m Gonna Lose My Mind”) to showbiz pap (“So You Think You’ve Got Troubles”). Notice Harry’s Brooklynese coming through on his original tune, “Born In Grenada” (“I’m bound and deTOYmined”). George Tipton, who would continue to work with Nilsson up to The Point!, arranges. With Harry’s RCA success the following year, Tower re-released Spotlight with a spiffy new cover (below).
Thanks to Les Peterson for contributing the great pics of Tower’s 1969 Good Times re-issue and accompanying 1969 press release (made in such a “RUSH!” that Nilsson’s name is misspelled in the album title). A reader tells us there are two editions of Spotlight, T 5095 (mono) and ST 5095 (stereo). In 2010, Spotlight On Nilsson was released for the first time on CD.
Various Domestic & Worldwide Re-issues
Rock ‘N Roll (1969) was an entry point for a lot of broke, Nilsson-curious kids in late ’69 and early ’70. As a Pickwick Records budget bin release, it was often attainable for a buck or less, so it was an easy sell to the unsuspecting buyer first hearing about Nilsson from Midnight Cowboy. What buyers got was an edited re-issue of Spotlight On Nilsson, clocking in at a mere 20 minutes. Rock ‘N Roll removed Spotlight‘s lead track, “The Path That Leads To Trouble,” and altered the running order. Even weirder, Rock ‘N Roll had an 8-track tape release.
Nilsson’s Original Tower 45s Discography
#103 Sixteen Tons/I’m Gonna Lose My Mind (1964)
#136 You Can’t Take Your Love (Away From Me)/Born In Grenada (1965)
#165 Good Times/The Path That Leads To Trouble (1965)
#244 She’s Yours/Growin’ Up (1966)
#518 Good Times/Growin’ Up (1969)
Tower’s 1969 “Good Times” 45 Re-issue & Press Release
The 2010 Spotlight On Nilsson CD reissue is a smart, two-on-one release, pairing Harry with John Stewart’s 1970 album, Willard. There are no new surprises or bonuses here, just a much better sounding remaster of the speed-challenged vinyl rips we’ve all heard these last 45 years. The producers decided to use Tower’s reissue cover from the late 1960s for the CD, probably since it’s not quite as dated as the original black & white spotlight cover.
The Path That Leads To Trouble (Cole)
Good Times (Nilsson)
So You Think You’ve Got Troubles (Rainwater)
I’m Gonna Lose My Mind (Cole)
She’s Yours (Nilsson/Shanklin)
Sixteen Tons (Travis)
Born In Grenada (Nilsson/Macascalco)
You Can’t Take Your Love (Away From Me)
Growin’ Up (Nilsson)
Do You Believe (Nilsson)