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Rock - Released November 1, 1971 | RCA Records Label

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Harry Nilsson had a hit, a Grammy, and critical success, yet he still didn't have a genuine blockbuster to his name when it came time to finally deliver a full-fledged follow-up to Nilsson Sings Newman, so he decided it was time to make that unabashed, mainstream pop/rock album. Hiring Barbra Streisand producer Richard Perry as a collaborator, Nilsson made a streamlined, slightly domesticated, unashamed set of mature pop/rock, with a slight twist. This is an album, after all, that begins by pining for the reckless days of youth, then segues into a snapshot of suburban disconnectedness before winding through a salute to and covers of old R&B tunes ("Early in the Morning" and "Let the Good Times Roll," respectively), druggie humor ("Coconut"), and surging hard rock ("Jump Into the Fire"). There are certainly hints of the Nilsson of old, particularly in his fondness for Tin Pan Alley and McCartney melodicism -- as well as his impish wit -- yet he hadn't made a record as cohesive as this since his first time out, nor had he ever made something as shiny and appealing as this. It may be more accessible than before, yet it's anchored by his mischievous humor and wonderful idiosyncrasies. Chances are that those lured in by the grandly melodramatic "Without You" will not be prepared for either the subtle charms of "The Moonbeam Song" or the off-kilter sensibility that makes even his breeziest pop slightly strange. In short, it's a near-perfect summary of everything Nilsson could do; he could be craftier and stranger, but never did he achieve the perfect balance as he did here. © Stephen Thomas Erlewine /TiVo
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Rock - Released April 8, 1994 | RCA - Legacy

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Pop - Released June 1, 1971 | RCA - Legacy

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What is hubris? It is Aerial Pandemonium Ballet, a folly Harry Nilsson crafted after winning a Grammy for "Everybody's Talkin'." Riding upon the goodwill generated by the award, he decided to compress and edit his first two (quite brilliant) albums into one record. He remixed tracks, erased old vocals, over-sang some new ones, edited sections out of certain songs, and slowed others down. Apart from the intros and outros, there are no brand-new items, just old tunes presented in slightly new, slightly off-putting ways. If you're not familiar with the debut, this will be pretty enchanting since the two records weren't that far apart stylistically and, let's face it, he was working with pretty terrific source material. Still, it's no substitute for the originals, and if you have a chance (and you do, with Britain's RCA Camden reissue), pick up the originals. © Stephen Thomas Erlewine /TiVo
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Rock - Released November 22, 2019 | Omnivore Recordings

A singer who passed away but his posthumous album has been released with his son in the credits… Leonard Cohen? Wrong, it’s Harry Nilsson! His album Losst And Founnd may be less talked about than Cohen’s Thanks For The Dance, but it certainly deserves some recognition. The timeless Midnight Cowboy Harry Nilsson (who sang Everybody’s Talkin’ in the film with the same title) died from heart failure in January 1994. At the time, he was in the process of recording music for his comeback album after having been away from the industry for over ten years. But once he had passed away, the unfinished demos sat on the shelf for 25 years until producer Mark Hudson began working on them again, inviting famous pop artists Jimmy Webb and Van Dyke Parks to help out. The work they have done on the album is respectful of Harry’s memory, encapsulating his melodies and vocals in a subtle blend of electric riffs and symphonic arrangements. Choirs and strings have transformed some of these songs into delicate Christmas ritornello, while others seem to have been recorded to the rhythm of an American football match. Better suited for Harry Nilsson fans as opposed to the general public, this high quality American pop album may not be as impressive as Leonard Cohen’s, but it’s certainly more fun! © Stéphane Deschamps/Qobuz
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Pop - Released July 1, 1968 | RCA - Legacy

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As "Good Old Desk" opens Aerial Ballet with a cheerful saunter, it's clear that Harry Nilsson decided to pick up where he left off with his debut, offering another round of effervescent, devilishly clever pop, equal parts lite psychedelia, pretty ballads, and music hall cabaret. It's not a carbon copy, however. In one sense, he entrenches himself a little bit, emphasizing his lighter edges and humor, writing songs so cheerfully lightweight -- a love song about his mom and dad, an ode to his favorite desk, an address or two to a "Little Cowboy" -- that it may be a little too cloying for some tastes, even for fans of Pandemonium Shadow Show. Those are balanced by a couple major steps forward, namely "Everybody's Talkin'" and "One." The former finds Nilsson adopting a rolling folk-pop backing for a Fred Neil song, making it into an instant, Grammy-winning classic. The latter was the greatest song he had written to date, a haunting tale of loneliness reminiscent of McCartney, yet with its own voice. These are the songs anchoring an album that may be a little lightweight, but it's engagingly, deliberately lightweight. If it's a bit dated, it wears its old charms well. © Stephen Thomas Erlewine /TiVo
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Pop - Released June 1, 1973 | RCA - Legacy

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Nilsson was nearly a decade ahead of Linda Ronstadt and other nouveau crooners in hiring a conductor/arranger of the pre-rock era (in this case Gordon Jenkins) and recording an album of standards before a full orchestra. And he did it better than most, proving to be a marvelous interpreter of songs like "What'll I Do?" and "Makin' Whoopee!" His version of "As Time Goes By" became a minor hit. © William Ruhlmann /TiVo
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Rock - Released April 30, 2013 | RCA - Legacy

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Pop - Released February 1, 1970 | RCA - Legacy

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Named Stereo Review's album of the year (and, really, can you ask for a better endorsement than that?) upon its release and generally regarded as the album that introduced Randy Newman the songwriter to a wide audience, Nilsson Sings Newman has gained a reputation of being an minor masterwork. This, in a way, is misguiding, since this isn't an obvious record, where the songs are delivered simply and directly. It's deliberately an album of subtle pleasures, crafted, as the liner notes state, line by line in the studio. As such, the preponderance of quiet piano-and-voice tracks (featuring Newman himself on piano, Nilsson on vocals) means the record can slip away upon the first few listens, especially for anyone expecting an undeniable masterpiece. Yet, a masterpiece is what this is, albeit a subtle, graceful masterpiece where the pleasure is in the grace notes, small gestures, and in-jokes. Not to say that this is devoid of emotion; it's just that the emotion is subdued, whether it's on a straightforward love song ("Caroline") or a tongue-in-cheek tale like "Love Story." For an album that introduced a songwriter as idiosyncratic as Newman, it's only appropriate that Nilsson's interpretations are every bit as original as the songs. His clear intonation and sweet, high voice are more palatable than Randy's slurred, bluesy growl, but the wild thing is, these versions demand that the listeners surrender to Nilsson's own terms. He's created gentle, intricate arrangements of tuneful yet clever songs, and as such, the album may be as much an acquired taste as Newman. Once you've acquired that taste, this is as sweet as honey. © Stephen Thomas Erlewine /TiVo
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Pop - Released January 2, 1967 | RCA - Legacy

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Harry Nilsson's debut album, Pandemonium Shadow Show, was notoriously loved by the Beatles, and it's easy to see why. This is the only record of its time that feels akin to Sgt. Pepper, and in some ways, it's every bit as impressive. Nilsson works on a much smaller scale, leaning heavily on whimsy yet cutting it with sardonic humor and embellishing it with remarkable song and studiocraft; it's as if McCartney and Lennon were fused into the same body. Pandemonium can't help but feel like a cheeky show of strength by a remarkably gifted imp, spinning out psychedelic fantasias and jokes and trumping his idols by turning out a cover of "She's Leaving Home" (recorded ten days after Sgt. Pepper's release) that rivals the original. Beneath all the light playful melodies ("There Will Never Be" is swinging London, L.A. style) or glorious laments (he rarely equaled "Sleep Late, My Lady Friend"), there are serious strains: the lyrics of "Cuddly Toy" are as unsettling as the melody catchy, the circus-stomp "Ten Little Indians" is a darkly addictive retelling of the Ten Commandments, and "1941" is quietly heartbreaking beneath its jaunty cabaret. Throughout it all, Nilsson impresses with his humor, cleverness, and above all, how his songwriting blossoms under his shockingly inventive studiocraft. Psychedelic pop albums rarely came better than this, and it remains a thorough delight. © Stephen Thomas Erlewine /TiVo
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Pop - Released December 1, 1970 | RCA Victor - Legacy

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Pop - Released August 1, 1969 | RCA - Legacy

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Ironically, Harry is where Harry Nilsson began to become Nilsson, an immensely gifted singer/songwriter/musician with a warped sense of humor that tended to slightly overwhelm his skills, at least to those who aren't quite operating on the same level. This aspect of his personality surfaces partially because the record is a crazy quilt of originals, covers, bizarre Americana, quiet ballads, show tunes, and soft-shoe shuffles. It doesn't really hold together, per se, due to its lack of focus (which, if you're a cultist, is naturally the reason why it's charming). Due to the sheer number of shuffling nostalgia trips, it seems as if Nilsson is attempting to sell the entire album on personality and, to anyone who isn't converted to his unique perspective, these may the moments that make Harry a little difficult to take, even with songs as expertly constructed as the delightful "Nobody Cares About the Railroads Anymore," an attempt to ape Randy Newman's Tin Pan Alley style. Then, there are the songs that really work, such as the sardonically cute "The Puppy Song," the gentle "Mournin' Glory Story," and "I Guess the Lord Must Be in New York City," a thoroughly winning folk-rock song he wrote for Midnight Cowboy but which was rejected in favor of "Everybody's Talkin'." These are the moments that deliver on the promise of his first two records, while the rest suggests where he would go next, whether in the immediate future (a cover of Newman's "Simon Smith and the Amazing Dancing Bear") or several years later (the weird in-jokes and insularity of portions of the album, which would become his modus operandi as of Nilsson Schmilsson). © Stephen Thomas Erlewine /TiVo
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Pop - Released July 1, 1968 | RCA - Legacy

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As "Good Old Desk" opens Aerial Ballet with a cheerful saunter, it's clear that Harry Nilsson decided to pick up where he left off with his debut, offering another round of effervescent, devilishly clever pop, equal parts lite psychedelia, pretty ballads, and music hall cabaret. It's not a carbon copy, however. In one sense, he entrenches himself a little bit, emphasizing his lighter edges and humor, writing songs so cheerfully lightweight -- a love song about his mom and dad, an ode to his favorite desk, an address or two to a "Little Cowboy" -- that it may be a little too cloying for some tastes, even for fans of Pandemonium Shadow Show. Those are balanced by a couple major steps forward, namely "Everybody's Talkin'" and "One." The former finds Nilsson adopting a rolling folk-pop backing for a Fred Neil song, making it into an instant, Grammy-winning classic. The latter was the greatest song he had written to date, a haunting tale of loneliness reminiscent of McCartney, yet with its own voice. These are the songs anchoring an album that may be a little lightweight, but it's engagingly, deliberately lightweight. If it's a bit dated, it wears its old charms well. © Stephen Thomas Erlewine /TiVo
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Rock - Released July 1, 1977 | RCA - Legacy

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Realizing that he had nothing left to lose when he got to the end of his RCA contract, Harry Nilsson wound up recording his best, most distinctive record since Pussy Cats, maybe, Son of Schmilsson. Abandoning the very idea of a mainstream pop album is just the beginning of his conceptual coup here with Knnillssonn. Recording almost all of the sounds with keyboards and guitars, Nilsson also decided to drive the guitars into the background. In some ways, this may make it similar to A Little Touch of Schmilsson in the Night, but instead of being a standards record, this is all new material, written in a classical pop style and delivered in a slightly modernistic fashion. The result is an album that's out of step with its time and with the era's music in general. With its old-fashioned pop sensibility and weirdly out of sync production, plus Nilsson's trademark clever songsmithery and impish humor, Knnillssonn is a pop album like no other. It has his best set of songs in many a year, and the production is fascinating, yet at times it sounds like he's trying a little too hard. Still, there are brilliant moments, whether it's a tune as seductive as "All I Think About Is You" or the Agatha Christie murder mystery salute "Who Done It?" For all the cultists who struggled with, and at times embraced, his years of uneven records, this is their reward: an album that may only appeal to a small audience, but that satisfies their every desire about what an album from their favorite artist should be. [Originally released in 1977, Knnillssonn was reissued with bonus tracks in 2002. © Stephen Thomas Erlewine /TiVo
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Rock - Released August 19, 1974 | RCA - Legacy

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The relationship between Harry Nilsson and John Lennon is legendary. They were notorious booze hounds and carousers, getting kicked out of clubs for misbehavior and generally terrorizing L.A. during Lennon's "lost weekend" of 1974. They wanted to make an album together -- hell, anyone working at such a peak would -- and the result was Pussy Cats, a Nilsson album produced by Lennon. Almost immediately, Nilsson got sick, resulting in a ruptured vocal cord. Not wanting Lennon to stop the sessions, Nilsson never told his friend, stubbornly working his way through the sessions until he lost his voice entirely. These are the sessions that make up Pussy Cats, an utterly bewildering record that's more baffling than entertaining. Like many superstar projects of its time, this is studded with contributions from friends and studio musicians, all intent on having a good time in the studio -- which usually means hammering out rock & roll oldies. In this case, it meant both Dylan's "Subterranean Homesick Blues" and the children's song "Loop de Loop," which gives a good idea where Nilsson was at. Through its messiness, Pussy Cats winds up showing how he and Lennon violently careened between hedonism and self-loathing. Of the new songs, the inadvertently revealing "All My Life" is the strongest, followed by the sweet "Don't Forget Me," yet this is more about tone than substance. It's about hearing Nilsson's voice getting progressively harsher, as the backing remains appealingly professional and slick. It doesn't quite jibe, and it's certainly incoherent, but that's its charm. It may not be as wild as the lost weekend itself, but it couldn't have been recorded at any other time and remains a fascinating aural snapshot of the early days of 1974. © Stephen Thomas Erlewine /TiVo
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Pop - Released July 10, 1972 | RCA - Legacy

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Pop - Released January 1, 1967 | RCA - Legacy

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Harry Nilsson's debut album, Pandemonium Shadow Show, was notoriously loved by the Beatles, and it's easy to see why. This is the only record of its time that feels akin to Sgt. Pepper, and in some ways, it's every bit as impressive. Nilsson works on a much smaller scale, leaning heavily on whimsy yet cutting it with sardonic humor and embellishing it with remarkable song and studiocraft; it's as if McCartney and Lennon were fused into the same body. Pandemonium can't help but feel like a cheeky show of strength by a remarkably gifted imp, spinning out psychedelic fantasias and jokes and trumping his idols by turning out a cover of "She's Leaving Home" (recorded ten days after Sgt. Pepper's release) that rivals the original. Beneath all the light playful melodies ("There Will Never Be" is swinging London, L.A. style) or glorious laments (he rarely equaled "Sleep Late, My Lady Friend"), there are serious strains: the lyrics of "Cuddly Toy" are as unsettling as the melody catchy, the circus-stomp "Ten Little Indians" is a darkly addictive retelling of the Ten Commandments, and "1941" is quietly heartbreaking beneath its jaunty cabaret. Throughout it all, Nilsson impresses with his humor, cleverness, and above all, how his songwriting blossoms under his shockingly inventive studiocraft. Psychedelic pop albums rarely came better than this, and it remains a thorough delight. © Stephen Thomas Erlewine /TiVo
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Rock - Released January 1, 1976 | RCA - Legacy

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Nilsson started going off the tracks at Pussy Cats, but his descent into sheer, unhinged lunacy became apparent with 1976's Sandman, his second album recorded in 1975. It was easy to view Duit on Mon Dei as transitory, but this proves that it was a transition to craziness and cultdom. At this point, he was abandoned by Lennon, left alone in L.A. and Nilsson just didn't care. He continued to roam, rampage, and record, ensconcing himself in his own world of in-jokes, Tin Pan Alley melodies, soft rock, clever wit, and sheer drunkenness. Check the cover: on the front, he has a bottle of wine between his legs, on the back he's overcome by a sand crab. On the album itself, he repudiates rock & roll, realizes "Pretty Soon There'll Be Nothing Left for Everybody," has a drunken conversation with himself (so extreme that he's thrown out of the bar), explains why he did not go to work today, writes an ode to flying saucers, offers cheekily literal instructions on how to write a song and then covers a song from the last album. Melodically, he's still strong, but the gleeful craziness overwhelms the pretty music and accessible production, resulting in an album that makes Son of Schmilsson and Pussy Cats seem normal, which may only signal just how far away from the mainstream Nilsson was at this point. But, in a way, he was still brilliant -- these are exceptional recordings, and his warped sense of humor is funnier than its ever been. That's not to say that Sandman is an easy record -- you have to not only accept Nilsson's quirks, but embrace them more than his talents to love this album -- but if your head is properly calibrated, this is one to treasure. [Originally released in 1976, Sandman was reissued with a bonus track in 2002.] © Stephen Thomas Erlewine /TiVo
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Rock - Released October 20, 2017 | RCA - Legacy

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Rock - Released March 1, 1975 | RCA - Legacy

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More tongue-in-cheek wordplay from Harry Nilsson. The album was originally titled God's Greatest Hits, but powers that be persuaded Nilsson to change it. His voice as well as his talent for writing catchy tunes was wearing thin here, and as with previous efforts, nothing stands out like his earlier material. Duit On Mon Dei is an artist on the wane. © James Chrispell /TiVo
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Pop - Released July 30, 2013 | RCA - Legacy