UPDATE Some of the videos are dead, unfortunately. A big drawback to YouTube is that vids go dead. Eventually that will kill it, just not soon enough for me.
The first LP I ever bought was Son of Schmilsson by Harry Nilsson which was an answer, I guess to his smash hit Nilsson Schmilsson, and a play on the name of course as a sequel.
I’m not completely dating myself here, because it was old when I bought it, but I’d been long steeped in the Beatles and all their buddies, and Harry was foremost among them. I started really realizing music in the heyday of the Beatles’ solo projects, when Ringo and Paul and George were all having their hits (John never really did much for me, because he never rocked much as a solo artist).
When I moved to the “big city” of Tampa from a relatively small town in Ohio, the first real friend my brother and I met was a really cool guy named Rick Viviano (hi Rick, if you’re out there) and he had this album, with the song “You’re Breaking My Heart (So Fuck You) by Nilsson, whom I knew from Coconut and Without You. My younger brother and I had bought singles before, but never a long-playing album. We never had any cash, and an album was a lot of money for a little kid back then (now a days kids have all kinds of money, it seems.)
So my brother and I scrounged up the money in some nefarious manner and bought it, our first full length LP. It had Ringo, a young Peter Frampton, the fantastic Beatles buddies and sidemen Klaus Voorman on bass, Jim Keltner doubling Ringo on drums, ace pianist Nicky Hopkins (he did some work with the ‘Stones), John Uribe on guitar, percussionist extrodinaire Ray Cooper (Elton John band and all his classic albums) Harry on piano and his subtle and otherworldly lead and backing vocals. George Harrisong made a cameo on slide guitar on “You’re Breaking My Heart“.
When doing the side-linking for the Jeremiah Was a Bullfrog post, I hit on other Axton songs, and of course one of the most famous was No No No Song covered by Ringo with Nilsson. And from there to the other songs covered by Ringo that were probably made hits by the addition of Nilssons very special backing vocal arrangements, You’re Sixteen and Only You.
While searching all that, I stumbled on this homemade movie Did Somebody Drop His Mouse? by Harry and producer Richard Perry that documents the making of that album. It has a lot of songs from Son of Smilsson, plus an early version of What’s Your Sign from the album Duit On Monday (God’s Greatest Hits), which he did after PussyCats, the next album, which John Lennon produced.
Here they all are, so you don’t have to jump around looking for them. I’ve saved them on my hd so if they go offline I’ll host them myself and link them up. Enjoy, this is some great stuff by one of the greatest vocalists to ever live. I ended up buying all Nilsson’s stuff eventually, and then on CD later, but none hold the special place in my heart as this one does. Every song evokes great times. This is the stuff that inspired me to become a musician.
The 2nd part has an achingly beautiful version of Nilsson’s “Remember”, without the final added bouzouki part, the Greek instrument similar to a mandolin. Being familiar with the album I can tell its not the piano version used on the album.
The third section has the rough version and the evolution of “You’re Breakin’ My Heart”, my favorite song on the album. The extended piano outro by Hopkins, even up to the fade, is just awesome, some of the best soloing I’ve ever heard.
Some of the songs are from the preceding LP, Nilsson Schmilsson, as well. I can’t say enough about is vocal performances, check out “Let the Good Times Roll”. He can do the gentle stuff, the soulful stuff and the rockers with equal ease.
This section covers the Stepney and Pinner Choir of elderly Brits (the album was made in London) and the Henry Krien Orchestra, a wedding and bar mitzvah band with accordian, for the ironic Nilsson song about getting old, “I’d Rather Be Dead (Than Wet My Bed)”, which they do with amazing good humor, being well oiled with brandy of course.
Tne last section covers “The Most Beautiful World in the World”, the last song on the album. This is a subtly different mix than that on the album, you can really hear the wonderful orchestra parts. Having listened to it literally hundreds and hundreds of times, I’d never heard.
Funny, the title would conjure a different image in this computer age, I bet, to most people, from when it was coined.
A lot of the stills from the gatefold LP (you kids missed out on that wonderful innovation) are from this movie, which I’d never known existed previous to today. It also came with a big poster (4 times the size of the album) of the cover, which hung on our bedroom door for all the years I lived at home, then on my door when we moved and I got my own room. I’ve rebought the album over the years, and was lucky enough to get several copies with the poster intact. Although later releases did away with the gatefold and poster, I bought several for a buck at the used album store, in mint condition, which I still have. Back then you bought several of your favorite album, even if you taped it, you were sure to scratch it so have extras if they are cheap!
The back of the poster had all the lyrics in drippy, scary calligraphy and the following credits. I have the original cover, in an album frame, on the wall in front of me as I type, along with my 2nd LP purchase, McCartney and Wings masterpiece Band on the Run. Maybe I’ll get to that one in time.
my workstation wall, left to right:
column 1: Aerosmith/Rocks :: Wings/Venus and Mars
column 2: Wings/Band on the Run :: McCartney concert program and tickets from the 2002 Driving Rain Tour
column 3: Nilsson/Son of Schmilsson :: Beatles group photo, circa ’64 :: Loudon Wainwright III autographed photo :: Thoroughbred Music (amazing Tampa music store, now defunct) bumper sticker
column 4: Michelle framed original sheet music :: Vengeance group photo :: Led Zep group photo, circa ’75
column 5: docweaselband gig poster :: John Lennon photo :: BC Rich Warlock (BC Rich Mockingbird moved from the other visible hook so you can see the pics better)
column 6: Browns pennant :: docweaselband gig poster :: Vengeance live photo :: Jimi Hendrix poster
underneath: Tascam 32 1/4″ half-track :: 3 computer monitors
Son of Schmilsson – album credits
Richard Perry producer
Ken Scott balance engineer
Robin Geoffrey Cable mixing engineer, congas
Phil MacDonald engineer
Phill Brown engineer
Harry Nilsson vocals, piano, electric piano, acoustic guitar
Richie Snare drums
Klaus Voormann bass, horns, electric guitar
George Harrysong slide guitar
Peter Frampton electric and acoustic guitars
Chris Spedding electric and acoustic guitars, bouzouki,
John Uribe electric and acoustic guitars
Nicky Hopkins piano
Red Rhodes pedal steel guitar
Bobby Keys tenor sax
Jim Price trombone, trumpet, horn arrangements
Ray Cooper percussion, tambourine, congas
Milt Holland percussion
Session Musicians & Arrangements
Lowell George guitar
Les Thatcher guitar
Paul Keough guitar
Barry Morgan drums
Henry Krein accordion
Paul Buckmaster string and orchestra arrangements, conductor
Del Newman string and orchestra arrangements
Kirby Johnson horn arrangements
Support & Art
Acy Lehman coordinator
Keith Munro project coordinator
Michael Putland photography
Tom Hanley photography
Peter Agapiou graphic design, lettering
Curtis Armstrong liner notes