When I was a nipper this was one of Mum's favourite albums so I heard it a lot without really appreciating it. Then when I hit my teenage years, when you'd think I'd be rejecting the sort of music that my parents liked, I rediscovered this album and came to wear it out with repeated plays.
For me Harry Nilsson has one of the most perfect male singing voices. There's a purity and power there which are reminiscent of Karen Carpenter - another artist who has never been fashionable, but deserves huge credit for the sheer quality of her voice.
The track-list below is from the original album. The modern CD edition has some excellent extra tracks, mostly demo versions which show how the songs came to be. Great to hear, but they're not part of the classic album.
Gotta Get Up (Nilsson)
A staccato piano leads into a rollicking song complete with horns and accordion. Harry sings a simple song about being late for a meeting because of a night spent on the tiles. Probably not an uncommon occurrence in his life - he spent most of his time partying with John Lennon, Ringo Starr, Keith Moon and the other rock and roll tearaways of the 1970s.
Driving Along (Nilsson)
This one does show its age a bit. A flower-power driving song.
Early In The Morning (Hickman/Jordan/Bartley)
A superb blues. Just Harry's fantastic voice which he accompanies with a deceptively simple blues riff on an organ.
The Moonbeam Song (Nilsson)
Sleepy song with multi-layered Nilsson backing vocals. Simply gorgeous. And a lovely bass part played by the bass-player's bass-player, Herbie Flowers.
Here Harry backs himself on piano on a rocking number which slowly gathers pace to finish side one (of the vinyl album!) with a blast of Memphis horns and early Chris Spedding guitar.
Without You (Ham/Evans)
A one-chord (C7, I think), calypso-style novelty song which is nevertheless catchy and unforgettable. You'll hear this in Tarantino's Reservoir Dogs and it was covered by the Muppets. On Harry's BBC TV special in the early 1970s he (and his musicians) performed this dressed as gorillas...
Let The Good Times Roll (Lee)
The piano intro recalls Down from earlier on, but this is a barrel-house singalong. Again, the Nilsson BBC show is worth seeing for the version of this song, performed by multiple clones of Harry and featuring a segue from Cathy's Clown and Walk Right Back. Brilliant! Fantastic! The man was a genius.
Jump Into The Fire (Nilsson)
Kicking off with funky Herbie Flowers bass riff and with guitar backing from John Uribe, Chris Spedding and Beatles alumnus Klaus Voorman, this is a psychedelic wig-out which just begs to be turned up to 11, especially during the Jim Gordon drum solo. Sounds like it should be the last track on the album, but no, that's left for...
I'll Never Leave You (Nilsson)
The most beautiful, yet complex song in the collection. A gorgeous song about Harry missing his lover, this is the showcase for his voice which Without You misses out on. Undercut by strings which are, in turn, shimmering and threatening and with a bizarre key change around 3 minutes which shouldn't work, but somehow does.
And that's the end. Now it's time to flip the record back over and star again from the beginning...
Produced by Richard Perry
Recorded at Trident Studios, London. June 1971.