Title - 'A Little Touch of Schmilsson ...: Expanded'
Artist - Harry Nilsson
The remastered release of Harry Nilsson's 'Touch' is cause for celebration. In a time when American Idols reign supreme, and faded pop singers try to resurrect ailing careers singing standards, yielding excruciating results, this CD reminds us that Mr. Nilsson was perhaps the first rocker to successfully record an album of standards. Along with Willie Nelson's 1978 Stardust, these two lps introduced an entire generation to its own musical heritage. But Mr. Nilsson's lp was first, and finest. I purchased it back then (1973) and was transported by its romantic lyricism. Like many Beatles generation's kids, I was not enamored with the 70's music. Disco was on the horizon, jazz was becoming fusion, and country was becoming pop with a southern accent. The only place to go was to the past. And Mr. Nilsson must have known this. He didn't undertake this project to resurrect his own career, as he was on top at the time. It was a risky move; some warned of career suicide. The results, both commercially and critically, thankfully proved otherwise. The album itself is composed mainly of prewar, (WW11 that is,) standards written by the likes of Gus Kahn, Herman Hupfield, and Irving Berlin. The lesser known jewels "Lazy Moon" and "Lullaby In Ragtime" glimmer just as much as the more familiar "Always", "Making Whopee", and "As Time Goes By". Mr. Nilsson employs a respectful approach, preventing a degeneration into camp, a la Tiny Tim. The renditions are joyous, and full of vitality, but not overdelivered (unlike so much of the bellowing we hear today). His vocals caress each lyric, and being who he is, Mr. Nilsson avoids the solemnity that often mars so many of these projects, while simultaneously rejecting the whimsey that was beginning to stereotype him.