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Nilsson Sings Newman Extra tracks, Original recording remastered

4.5 out of 5 stars 73 customer reviews

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Audio CD, Extra tracks, Original recording remastered, February 8, 2000
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Product Details

  • Audio CD (February 8, 2000)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Format: Extra tracks, Original recording remastered
  • Label: Buddha
  • ASIN: B0000457FT
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (73 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #450,004 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Marc Kloszewski on June 30, 2000
Format: Audio CD
I know generally record companies don't give anything away for free, but the rerelease of this 1970 album is certainly a gift for what has to be a small audience: Thank you, Buddha (Records)! What we have here must be one of the most historic matchups of talented songwriters, Harry Nilsson, who up until then had a big hit single with someone else's song (Fred Neil's "Everybody's Talkin'" from "Midnight Cowboy"), and three critically admired but poor-selling albums, and Randy Newman, yet to score even a major hit as a songwriter ('least he was on Warner Bros., a label that respected his talent, more than you can say for Harry's RCA deal)...So, as the publicity goes, it really was a brave thing to undertake this very low-key collection, mainly pared down to Randy's piano and Harry's lovely voice. Listening to it reminds me of attending a recital of art songs (and, you should turn this one up loud for full intimate effect, I think). For the most part, Harry has chosen the "nice-guy" (from the liner notes) songs from Randy's repertoire (the one exception, "Yellow Man," does sound better coming from Randy's ironic pipes), and they are simple songs that sparingly sketch out his scenarios of nostalgia ("Dayton, Ohio 1903," "Vine St."), loss/regret ("Living Without You," "So Long Dad"), and hey, even Love. Fans of Randy Newman will be intrigued by comparing the different versions both singers have laid down ('frinstance, I like Randy's version of "Love Story" much better than Harry's, no shame there though).Read more ›
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Format: Audio CD
Nilsson is dead, while Newman now scores movies like his illustrious forbears. Back in the day, however, for one brief, shining moment, the two aspiring songsters united for this still-unrecognized masterpiece. While each participant was well-skilled in singing and songwriting, Nilsson, arguably the better singer, sang, while Newman, arguably the better songwriter, provided the songs and played piano. Neither was well-known to the public, despite chart successes recognized by at least a sliver of the industry. The resulting album was well-reviewed at the time, but failed to click with the buying public. Mine own vinyl copy was purchased at a garage sale a few years after its release; even then it was a radio station freebee with the signature "Jim Sloane" scrawled in Magic Marker on the album's cover. After a few listens, the album became a frequent play for me and vivid enough to provide me, as a budding high school film maker, with the inspiration for several (unmade) animated films. As I listen to it now, at least two decades removed from my initial infatuation, I find that the album holds up quite well. More lieder recital than "rock'n'roll record," points must be given for sheer timelessness. These two took songwriting seriously; they weren't only in search of the latest hit, though both saw chart success, but each also seemed to pursue songwriting for its own sake. Fact is that I still prefer the versions on this album to several of the tracks on Newman's debut; Nilsson's spontaneous studio-smarts and seeming emotional directness as a singer trump Newman's painstaking orchestral arrangements and studious Fats Domino mumble. Take this, then, as a qualified rave. If you've ever responded to either of these artists, or to great song themselves, then give this a try. I don't think you'll be disappointed.
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Format: Audio CD
One of the true (and few) masterpieces of popular music, this is a record that deserves to be mentioned in the same breath as "Pet Sounds", "What's Going on?" "Music From Big Pink".... whatever. There are not enough superalitives to express the greatness of this recording. It is the rare project that actually looks good on paper and sounds immeasurably better. It is truly one of the holy books of recorded sound.
This great reissue features stunning sound. Wow, I'd like to hear this on SACD, as the master tapes must be near perfect... spatial cues, huge soundstage, pin-point images. A great-sounding record all around. You can really appreciate every nuance of Harry's phrasing. The new liner notes are fascinating, shedding light on the painstaking process that was the construction of this record. I had no idea Harry was such a perfectionist! I always had thought this album was a "toss off"-- two buddys getting together and slapping together a brilliant album. In fact, they both worked so long and hard on this that Randy was bored to death!
If I had to point to one record where Harry's voice was consistently at its greatest, this would be that record. His soft, yearning turns-of-phrase on "I'll be home"--- his rocking-to-sweet delivery on the brilliant "Vine Street". There is not a misstep to be heard. I think he was the greatest vocalist in pop, and this is a real showcase for that.
My one gripe with this record is the inclusion of "The Beehive State". I've never understood why they chose it. It's one of my least favorite of Newman's song (okay, I hate it, actually) and it really doesn't fit with the sly humor and almost melancholic bent of the rest of the record.
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