Listening in Depth to Nilsson Schmilsson

More of the Music of Harry Nilsson

Reviews and Commentaries for the Music of Harry Nilsson

Jump Into The Fire is one of the best tests we used for side two. Copies that are too smooth make the “just bass and drums” intro sound thick and smeared. Too bright and the vocals will tear your head off. The “just right” copies rock from the start and never get too far out of control, even when Harry does. The best we can hope for is that the loudest vocal parts stay tolerable. Believe me, it is not that easy to find a copy that’s listenable all the way through, not at the high volume I play the record at anyway!

Again, with Nilsson screaming at the top of his lungs you better have a good copy to get through this track, and even then it’s a bit of a problem.

A tough test for the old stereo, that’s for sure. Make sure your equipment is tuned up and the electricity is good before you get anywhere near a pressing of this album.

Big production pop like this is hard to pull off. Harry did an amazing job, but the recording is not perfect judging by the dozen or so copies I played this week and the scores I’ve suffered through before. Let’s face it: Jump Into The Fire will never be smooth and sweet; neither will Down on side one. But other tracks on this album have DEMONSTRATION QUALITY SOUND.

In-Depth Track Commentary

Side One

Gotta Get Up

A tough one right off the bat. If you have an aggressive sounding copy, you’ll know it pretty quick!

Driving Along

A lot like the first track. Love those strummed acoustic guitars — so rich and full.

Early in the Morning

Pure audiophile magic! So spacious, open and sweet.

The Moonbeam Song

Tons of processing on his voice. The more natural it sounds without being dull, the better side one is going to be overall.


With Nilsson screaming at the top of his lungs you better have a good copy to get through this track.

Side Two

Without You

The big hit from this album, and one of Harry’s best performances. He’s got the pipes that the writers (Badfinger) didn’t, and his arrangement is perfection. The sound goes right up to the edge but never over it on the best copies. On bright copies watch out! (By the way, it’s almost always a bit noisy.)


Again, sonic perfection. What a song — pure Nilsson madness, the kind of pop genius that works on any level, even over the car radio. The percussion here can be wonderfully delicate when you get a good pressing.

Let the Good Times Roll

A tough one; only the best pressings get this one right.

Jump Into The Fire

See above.

I’ll Never Leave You

A lovely arrangement with excellent sound.