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Personal Best: The Harry Nilsson Anthology CD

4.6 out of 5 stars 58 customer reviews

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Audio CD, CD, February 28, 1995
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Frequently Bought Together

  • Personal Best: The Harry Nilsson Anthology
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  • Nilsson Schmilsson
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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

Harry helped pick the tracks for this set, which makes this 2-CD, 49-song profile of the late singer-songwriter's work doubly poignant. Inside are all of his hits- Everybody's Talking; Without You; Coconut; Jump into the Fire; Spaceman; Daybreak; Remember Christmas, and more-plus four unreleased tracks dating from the '60s, a U.S. premiere of Over the Rainbow and the very rare I Will Take You There from the film Skidoo, all remastered from the original masters. The booklet contains discography, photos and a January 1994 interview.

Amazon.com

Although Nilsson didn't select the tracks for this two-CD collection drawn from his '60s and '70s work for RCA, Personal Best generously touches on the many sides of his musical personality: the whimsical (his layered version of the Beatles' "You Can't Do That"), the soaring ("Without You," "Don't Leave Me"), and the flat-out oddball (a cover of the Louis Jordan-Ray Charles classic "Early in the Morning"). Holding it all together is his tremendous melodic sense and a voice that was at first gorgeous, then ravaged by the artist's excesses. When he died in 1994, the world lost one of its truest originals. --Rickey Wright
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Product Details

  • Audio CD (February 28, 1995)
  • Original Release Date: February 28, 1995
  • Number of Discs: 2
  • Format: CD
  • Label: Sony Legacy
  • Run Time: 146 minutes
  • ASIN: B000002WPP
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (58 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #8,299 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Steve Vrana HALL OF FAMETOP 1000 REVIEWER on May 27, 2000
Format: Audio CD
This generous 49-track collection opens with the autobiographical "1941" (the year Nilsson was born) and from there takes us on a musical journey that spanned two decades. While a gifted songwriter (the Monkees covered "Cuddly Toy" and Three Dog Night had a hit with "One"), it's surprising that his two biggest hits were written by others: the Top Ten "Everybody's Talkin'" (from "Midnight Cowboy") and the Grammy-winning "Without You" (by Pete Ham and Tom Evans of Badfinger).
Here are some of my personal favorites:
"You Can't Do That" - A loving tribute to the Beatles, and in Nilsson's arrangement he manages to work in snippets of no fewer than a dozen other Beatles songs. [The Beatles would return the favor when they each endorsed him as their favorite performer--Lennon would produce Pussy Cats in 1974.)
"One" - I know this wasn't the hit version, but Nilsson's vocal performance on this song is perfect.
"I Guess the Lord Must Be in New York City" - A minor hit in late 1969. His vocals--especially when he reaches for those high notes--still gives me chills.
"Me and My Arrow" - Another minor hit taken from an animated film "The Point," which Nilsson wrote, narrated and sang. Simply charming.
"Without You" - As much as I love Badfinger's work, this is the definitive version of this song. Won a Grammy for Best Pop Vocal Performance in 1972.
"Jump Into the Fire" - I know I'm emphasizing his singles, but this song has a great groove and is Nilsson's greatest rock song.
"Joy" - A marvelous country-western sendup from arguably his best album "Nilsson Schmilsson.
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Format: Audio CD
If you appreciate finely crafted pop/rock music and a one-of-a-kind knockout singer with a 4 plus octave range, it's pretty tough to go wrong with this collection. Harry Nilsson was one of the best ever, and 50 songs aren't enough, but what is here, particularly the period from 1967-1973, is incredible.

I really wanted to correct the plethora of misinformation that appears in "Marty from S.F.'s" review. First, Nilsson first recorded in 1962, not 1964, and that material (originally demos) is currently available. Also, I don't know how many singles Harry actually released (I'm thinking somewhere around 20-24), but it is nowhere near 60. Finally, from 1967 to 1981 (he didn't release anything after 1981), he released 14 albums. This does not include the soundtrack "Skidoo", for which he wrote some material, but certainly can't be considered a Nilsson album. It also does not include Son of Dracula or Aerial Pandamonium Ballet. Dracula (soundtrack to the terrible film) only included one new song (Daybreak) and A.P.B. was a remixed composite of Harry's first two LPs, released to capitalize on his new found popularity and respect after winning a Grammy for Everybody's Talking.

I love that Amazon provides this great forum for sharing POV, but I don't care for those who want to rewrite history. The facts are the facts...don't mess with 'em.
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Format: Audio CD
Harry Nilsson was never one to be pegged. His choice of material was as diverse as his vocal range, and then some. Never one to stick to one genre, this Anthology is a wonderful collection.

Beginning in 1964, the unknown singer/songwriter recorded his first song, "Stand Up And Holler" as performed by the Foto-Fi. It was not well recieved. However in 1967 the world took notice with the romantic "Everybody's Talkin'" from the Oscar winning film "Midnight Cowboy". His success continued with "I Guess The Lord Must Live In New York City", and the clever "Me And My Arrow". The world caught fire with the release of "Nilsson Schilsson" and the huge hits, Grammy-winning "Without You", the maddening funny "Coconut" and the hard rocker "Jump Into The Fire". Everyone now realized that Harry Nilsson was a voice to be reckoned with.

As if to laugh at his serious critics, Harry released a new album titled, "Son Of Schmilsson", with tongue-in-cheeks songs like, "Joy", "You're Breakin' My Heart", "Spaceman" and "The Most Beautiful World In The World". His vocal renditions of each were nothing short of remarkable.

Again, to turn the music world on it's collective ear, Harry released a 'serious' collection of standards titled, "A Little Touch Of Schilsson In The Night" with songs like, "Many Rivers To Cross", "Over The Rainbow", "As Time Goes By" and many others. People went crazy and the critics were pleasantly confused.

The rest of this 2-Dics set contains nearly 50 songs. During this period, Harry became a music Industry favorite, befriending and sometimes working with the likes of 'The Monkees', 'Keith Moon', 'Albert Brooks', 'Anne Murray', 'Alice Cooper', 'John Lennon', 'Ringo Starr' and many, many others.
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Format: Audio CD
This collection of Harry's music is excellent -- for those of us who aren't consumate Nilsson junkies. Every single cut on this album is available elsewhere. And on CD to boot. I would pay good money for "... That's the Way It Is" on CD. *I* have it on vinyl. But people who don't will never have the opportunity to hear the lyrical and haunting "Moonshine Bandit" -- which is made richer by the aging and damage done to Harry's voice. The current trend in compliation albums seems to be to rerelease what SOLD in the past -- ignoring other (sometimes more important) material. I mean, where's a representation from the soundtrack to "Popeye?" or "Skidoo" (which isn't all that groovy, trust me on this) or the elusive "Flash, Harry" which was never released in the US? If you love Nilsson, buy this collection. But go on a quest for the rest. You'll be amazed -- and saddened even more by the silencing of his voice.
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