Top Artists – Harry Nilsson

Harry Nilsson – Pussy Cats

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  • A superb sounding copy with Nearly Triple Plus (A++ to A+++) sound from start to finish; exceptionally quiet vinyl too
  • Both sides are incredibly rich, full-bodied and Tubey Magical yet still clean, clear, open and spacious
  • Produced by John Lennon, Nilsson’s partner in crime, it’s a really fun album, with an appealingly ragged and spontaneous vibe
  • “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.” – All Music

The soundstage is huge and open, there’s some real richness and body to the vocals and, perhaps most importantly, you get all the energy and presence required to bring this wild album to life.

John Lennon and Harry Nilsson were notorious partiers during Lennon’s “lost weekend” away from Yoko, and the album basically plays like all that excess playing out in the studio. The vibe is loose and spontaneous, and Nilsson’s voice is at its most ragged. That looseness and raggedness results in some startlingly emotional peaks — Many Rivers To Cross and Don’t Forget Me are positively spine-tingling — and some good-natured romps through classic covers like Subterranean Homesick Blues and Rock Around The Clock. It’s a whole lot of fun — especially when you have a copy that sounds like this!

This album may not be a demo disc like A Little Touch of Schmilsson In The Night, but that’s really not the point here. This record is about the atmosphere, and this copy has the kind of big, open soundstage and smooth, musical tonality that really make the music work! It’s actually one of the best-sounding Nilsson albums, and the sound is perfectly matched to the material.

This vintage RCA pressing has the kind of Tubey Magical Midrange that modern records can barely 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 band, 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 amazing sides such as these 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 1974
  • 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.

What We Listen For on Pussy Cats

  • Energy for starters. What could be more important than the life of the music?
  • Then: presence and immediacy. The vocals aren’t “back there” somewhere, lost in the mix. They’re front and center where any recording engineer worth his salt would put them.
  • 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, not the smear and thickness so common to these LPs.
  • Tight punchy bass — which ties in with good transient information, also 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 instruments.
  • Extend the top and bottom and voila, you have The Real Thing — an honest to goodness Hot Stamper.

TRACK LISTING

Side One

Many Rivers to Cross 
Subterranean Homesick Blues 
Don’t Forget Me 
All My Life 
Old Forgotten Soldier

Side Two

Save the Last Dance for Me 
Mucho Mungo 
Loop De Loop 
Black Sails 
Rock Around the Clock

AMG Review

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.

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.

A Little Touch of Schmilsson in the Night

 

For those of you who’ve never chanced upon it, here is the ‘live’ version of the album in five parts.

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Nilsson was way ahead of his time. Rod Stewart recently made an album of classic popular music that went to number one and revived his career. Harry Nilsson understands this music SO MUCH BETTER and sings it SO MUCH BETTER than Rod Stewart that one can only come to that conclusion. Either that or the rest of the world doesn’t appreciate Nilsson as much as I do. Probably both I guess. Too bad. This album is better than all the “also rans” albums put together. (more…)

Another Harry Nilsson Must Own Album (Which Makes Four for Those of You Keeping Score at Home)

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  • Amazing Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) As Good As It Gets sound on both sides – maybe the best copy to ever hit the site
  • You can thank Ken Scott for his Tubey Magical engineering and Richard Perry for his Big As Life production approach – this is our kind of sound!
  • It’s one of Harry Nilsson’s four Must Own albums – for both sonics and music this copy is going to be very hard to beat
  • “… a fantastic set of songs that illustrate what a skilled, versatile songsmith Nilsson was… if you appreciate Nilsson’s musicality and weirdo humor, he never got any better.” – All Music

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Harry Nilsson – Harry

Some sections on our site are hard to find. Here’s one with lots of cool records in it:

Forgotten Rock and Pop Classics

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Harry Nilsson – Harry

A distinguished member of the Better Records Pop Hall of Fame and a Forgotten Classic from one of our favorite singer songwriters of the last fifty years, Mr. Harry Nilsson.

This forgotten gem sank like a stone in 1969, but time has treated this album well; it stil holds up. The production is superb throughout. Judging by this early Nilsson’s album, it appears he was already a pro in the studio, as well as an accomplished songwriter, and, more importantly, the owner of one of the sweetest tenors in popular music, then or now. (more…)

Listening in Depth to Nilsson Schmilsson

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Listening in Depth

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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. (more…)