Tuesday, March 13, 2007

238. Harry Nilsson - Nilsson Schmilsson (1971)

Track Listing

1. Gotta Get Up
2. Driving Along
3. Early In The Morning
4. Moonbeam Song
5. Down
6. Without You
7. Coconut
8. Let The Good Times Roll
9. Jump Into The Fire
10. I'll Never Leave You


There is something deeply strange with an album when different songs can remind you of the first song from the Buffy musical episode Once More With Feeling (Gotta Get Up), Mariah Carey (Without You), crappy novelty music (Coconut), I Fought The Law by The Clash (Jump Into The Fire) and even Rufus Wainwright (Moonbeam Song and particularly I'll Never Leave You).

In that sense there is something really interesting about this album, albeit slightly schizoid. In the end it is too eclectic for its own good, it gets lost in its own variety. Nilsson is also not a particularly good lyricist or singer, actually the song where he sings better is the dreadful Without You, one of the lamest yet infectious songs in the whole 1001 albums list.

The album has some quite good tracks and some you really wouldn't expect from the man who popularised Without You; Jump Into The Fire is a very capable rocker for example. Nilsson was dogged with accusations of being Beatles light, but The Beatles were never this lost in an album, and a lot of the songs here would surely rate as the worse work of the Beatles. Octopus' Garden sounds like Keats next to Coconut for example, with its racial sterotyping accents, which only works as the end theme to Reservoir Dogs because Tarantino recognises its crappiness. This is an album which deservedly won its place in the bargain bin at any music shop, but not without its redeeming qualities. Get it form Amazon UK or US.

Track Highlights

1. I'll Never Leave You
2. Jump Into The Fire
3. Gotta Get Up
4. Moonbeam Song

Final Grade



Nilsson Schmilsson yielded three very stylistically different hit singles. The first was a cover of Badfinger's song "Without You" (by Pete Ham and Tom Evans), featuring a highly emotional arrangement and soaring vocals to match, a performance that was rewarded with Nilsson's second Grammy Award.

The second single was "Coconut", a novelty calypso number featuring three characters (the narrator, the sister, and the doctor) all sung in different voices by Nilsson. The song is best remembered for its chorus lyric, "Put de lime in de coconut, and drink 'em both up." Cocunut was featured in Episode 81 (October 25, 1973) of the Flip Wilson Show. The song has since been featured in many other films, commercials, and even an episode of The Simpsons and one of Chalk Zone. It was also used in a comedy skit on The Muppet Show, which featured Kermit the Frog in a hospital bed. Most recently it has been heard in a television commercial for Coca-Cola with Lime. The song was also used at the end credits in the Quentin Tarantino film Reservoir Dogs.

The third single, "Jump into the Fire", was raucous, screaming rock and roll, including a drum solo by Derek and the Dominos' Jim Gordon and a bass detuning by Herbie Flowers. The song was famously used during the May 11, 1980, scenes in the film Goodfellas.

If you thought I was exagerating about racial stereotyping in Coconut watch the video for it:

No comments: