Nilsson Schmilsson

Nilsson Schmilsson

Nilsson Schmilsson was not only Harry Nilsson’s commercial breakthrough, it was the artist’s moment of emancipation. For years, Nilsson had labored at mannered, orchestrated pop music that was extraordinary but often seemed to stifle its author’s sense of mischief. Here for the first time Nilsson threw all caution to the wind and let loose his desires. Producer Richard Perry kept the sessions on track, and the performances are strengthened by a top-notch studio band, the core of which was cribbed from Nilsson’s pal John Lennon. “Down” and “Let the Good Times Roll” are reminiscent of the careening, echoing style Lennon used on Imagine and Plastic Ono Band, but the personality of this music is 100% Nilsson. A musical chameleon, Nilsson takes on cruising folk-rock (“Driving Along”), electrified proto-punk (“Jump Into the Fire”) and at least one Vegas-worthy display of torch-song melodrama (“Without You”). In a wonderful twist of fortune, the album’s wild innovations paid off with commercial acceptance, and amazingly, “Coconut,” the album’s most bizarre track, became the best-loved hit of Nilsson’s career.

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