Harry Nilsson

Rare Harry

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When a musician rarely performs outside the studio, and when his albums have been reissued on CD with bonus previously unreleased studio outtakes, there's only so much you can do as far as exploiting him on bootleg. This obscure collection manages to cobble together enough unreleased Harry Nilsson for one disc, however, the first seven tracks identified as only "1971 BBC" (presumably from the BBC television special he did that year). Those seven cuts are definitely the highlights of this CD; the sound quality is only a shade below official release standard, and the songs are well performed and sparsely arranged, with only piano, guitar, and harmonica backing the vocals. In this format, he offers versions of some of the more notable songs from his early records ("Without Her," "Coconut," "Mr. Richland's Favorite Song," "Gotta Get Up," and "1941," the last of which is not listed on the cover), as well as a medley/blending of the Everly Brothers' "Walk Right Back"/"Cathy's Clown" and Shirley & Lee's "Let the Good Times Roll." Far less impressive are four rather desultory holiday-themed tracks Nilsson sang on the 1988 CD The Presence of Christmas. Kicking the disc up to standard CD length is a 25-minute radio interview Nilsson did on June 14, 1992 shortly before his death, in which he talks about both his work and his association with the Beatles and John Lennon. This interview portion also includes an unreleased version of the Platters' "Only You" with Nilsson and Lennon on vocals (though the backing track is the same as the one heard on Ringo Starr's hit solo recording of the song).