Harry Nilsson – Son of Schmilsson

More Harry Nilsson

Reviews and Commentaries for Harry Nilsson

  • With two nearly Triple Plus (A++ to A+++) sides, this copy of Nilsson’s second-in-a-row Masterpiece of Bent Rock is close to the BEST we have ever heard, right up there with our Shootout Winner
  • This is one of Nilsson’s best albums, sonically and musically. (With Ken Scott at the board at Trident Studios the sound has to be good, doesn’t it?)
  • Son of Schmilsson has more than half a dozen of the best songs Nilsson ever wrote, and should make it a Must Own for every right thinking audiophile with sophisticated tastes in popular music (this means you)
  • 4 1/2 stars: “… this is all married to a fantastic set of songs that illustrate what a skilled, versatile songsmith Nilsson was. No, it may not be the easiest album to warm to — and it’s just about the weirdest record to reach number 12 and go gold — but if you appreciate Nilsson’s musicality and weirdo humor, he never got any better.”
  • This title from 1972 is clearly one of Nilsson’s best, and also one of his best sounding recordings
  • The complete list of titles from 1973 that we’ve reviewed to date can be found here.

We had a great time shooting out a big stack of these, as we’re just wild about Harry here at Better Records. Unfortunately, most copies are too dark and grainy to get excited about.

Here’s a copy that tells a much different story —both sides have good energy, smooth and sweet vocals, and nice extension up top.

Drop the needle on Turn On Your Radio or The Lottery Song and we bet you fall in love with this one.

Ken Is The Man

It’s yet another triumph from one of our favorite engineers, KEN SCOTT (Ziggy Stardust, Magical Mystery Tour, Honky Chateau, Crime of the Century and many more).

This is one of Nilsson’s best albums, sonically and musically. Side one is amazingly good from start to finish. On the two CD set of Nilsson’s greatest hits (which is excellent, by the way) almost all of side one from this album is used, as well as the best material on side two, which includes Spaceman and The Most Beautiful World In The World.

This RCA Victor pressing has the kind of Tubey Magical Midrange that modern records rarely even BEGIN to reproduce. Folks, that sound is gone and it sure isn’t showing signs of coming back. If you love hearing INTO a recording, actually being able to “see” the performers, and feeling as if you are sitting in the studio with the Harry Nilsson, this is the record for you. It’s what vintage all analog recordings are known for — this sound.

If you exclusively play modern repressings of vintage recordings, I can say without fear of contradiction that you have never heard this kind of sound on vinyl. Old records have it — not often, and certainly not always — but maybe one out of a hundred new records do, and those are some pretty long odds.

What the best sides of Son of Schmilsson have to offer is not hard to hear

  • The biggest, most immediate staging in the largest acoustic space
  • The most Tubey Magic, without which you have almost nothing. CDs give you clean and clear. Only the best vintage vinyl pressings offer the kind of Tubey Magic that was on the tapes in 1972
  • Tight, note-like, rich, full-bodied bass, with the correct amount of weight down low
  • Natural tonality in the midrange — with all the instruments having the correct timbre
  • Transparency and resolution, critical to hearing into the three-dimensional studio space

No doubt there’s more but we hope that should do for now. Playing the record is the only way to hear all of the qualities we discuss above, and playing the best pressings against a pile of other copies under rigorously controlled conditions is the only way to find a pressing that sounds as good as this one does.

One of His Best

Nilsson Schmilsson and the album simply titled Harry are two other superb Nilsson records that both come highly recommended. Harry is my favorite of them all, perhaps because it was so different from anything that I’d ever heard up to that point (I was 15 at the time). A Little Touch… is also a personal favorite, with the great American songbook done in Nilsson’s inimitable style.

By the way, if you get a chance to see the documentary Who Is Harry Nilsson (and Why Is Everybody Talkin’ About Him?), you should definitely check it out. Most of us here have seen it by now and it’s a ton of fun.

What We’re Listening For on Son of Schmilsson

  • Energy for starters. What could be more important than the life of the music?
  • The Big Sound comes next — wall to wall, lots of depth, huge space, three-dimensionality, all that sort of thing.
  • Then transient information — fast, clear, sharp attacks for the guitars, horns and drums, not the smear and thickness common to most LPs.
  • Tight, note-like bass with clear fingering — which ties in with good transient information, as well as the issue of frequency extension further down.
  • Next: transparency — the quality that allows you to hear deep into the soundfield, showing you the space and air around all the players.
  • Extend the top and bottom and voila, you have The Real Thing — an honest to goodness Hot Stamper.

TRACK LISTING

Side One

1. Take 54 4:22
2. Remember Christmas 4:07
3. Joy 3:42
4. Turn on Your Radio 2:42
5. You’re Breakin’ My Heart 3:10

Side Two

6. Spaceman 3:33
7. The Lottery Song 2:24
8. At My Front Door 2:46
9. Ambush 5:35
10. I’d Rather Be Dead 3:20
11. The Most Beautiful World in the World 3:33

Leave a Reply