Son Of Schmilsson

This album sits atop my all-time Nilsson favourite album chart (with 1969's 'Harry').  I remember getting my LP copy quite clearly from the little record shop on the Town Square in Tunstall, Stoke-on-Trent.  It cost me 2.22 and I couldn't wait to get it home to play!  I read the cover, looked at the array of great photos inside and there was even a wall-sized poster (with the lyrics in that great 'dripping blood' font) on the reverse.

From the opening number to near the end of side one my speakers blared...then (fortunately I'd spotted the lyrics in time!) it was a quick dash to the volume knob or quickly plug in the headphones before there was any chance of my mum hearing the last track!

But I think what I love about SoS so much is that it is the one album I own which has on it more different styles/genres of music than any other. Every track on the LP/CD is a jump in style from the last and on it we have everything from West Coast rock to Country & Western, Rock and Roll to lush ballad, Bavarian tea dance to epic production number, electric blues to...you get the idea, I'm sure!

It was only March 1972 when Richard Perry and Harry returned to Trident Studios.  1971 had been a busy year (three albums, a TV film and three hit singles including a massive number 1 hit both in the UK and USA).  The album title had already been decided - Schmilsson worked and now had a son!  Or rather, as the advertising hoardings proudly stated "Harry is a Mother" (see picture, right and below - opposite 'At My Front Door').

RCA were so happy with the commercial success of Nilsson Schmilsson (and, of course, especially 'Without You') that they desperately wanted more of the same and gave the team their blessing to do virtually whatever they wanted in order to repeat the phenomenon.  It seemed the best move to return first of all to the 'scene of the crime' and reassemble as much of the supporting cast as possible - so Soho it was and messrs Price, Keys, Voorman, Uribe, Spedding came back for more - but this time being joined by more eminent names in pop history like Beatles Ringo and George, pianist Nicky Hopkins (who had worked with John Lennon the previous year on the 'Imagine' album) and young English guitarist and rising star Peter Frampton.  Another difference this time was to be that the whole thing was to be filmed for a documentary - this had even been given the slightly bizarre title 'Did Somebody Drop His Mouse?' (a colloquialism for 'who's farted?') The documentary was never released and, indeed, never finished although the rough copy with Harry and Richard's guide narration is well known in Nilsson circles.

The problem was that Son of Schmilsson failed to repeat the commercial success of its parent. Harry, fuelled by the success of the past year had begun to 'live to excess' - a lifestyle for which he was to become rather famous for over the next few years - a passion which would not subside for many more years and ultimately, probably, cost him several years of life.  I cannot help but refer back to the more innocent days of Aerial Ballet where Derek Taylor writes in his liner notes that Harry would not have been found in the Whisky-a-go on Sunset Strip.  Well maybe not back in 1968 - but this was '72!  I doubt there was much sobriety during the sessions (particularly one - which I will come to later!) After the sessions it was either back to Curzon Place with the bottles or round to Harry's local 'The Grapes' just off Curzon Street (see left).

Nevertheless - I began by saying that this is just about my favourite Nilsson album so wherein lies the paradox?

Critics panned it!  Even the better of the reviews accused Harry of ditching his 'romantic' persona in favour of schoolboy humour and crudity.  What the world wanted, of course, was another 'Without You' - but if songs of that quality grew on trees we'd all have number ones!  Critics and mass public alike fail to understand the concept of unique, special moments being, often, just that!  These days pop fans tend to be very dedicated to the same artist no matter what.  If a favourite artist brings out a new single it is bought (or, more likely, downloaded) no questions asked.  As I write we here in the UK are in the middle of a 'Take That' revival.  The boy band, massive in the early and mid 1990s reformed in 2006 after a decade.  Fans of a decade ago are still fans today and everything the reformed quartet touch turns to gold.  Time will tell if the quality of product in 2006/7 is as good as the older material (I doubt it is, from what I've heard) but the unquestioning loyalty of their fans still ensures success.  In the 1970's such dedication rarely existed - you bought what you enjoyed being played on the radio and if it happened to be that same artist you bought last year then so be it.  If it wasn't...maybe that's why the 70's spawned so many 'one hit wonders'!

And the bad publicity caused by the 'schoolboy humour' cost Harry sales, no doubt.  Songs about euthanasia/incontinence?  Belching, gargling, sniffing and spitting on record? Singing your balls off? F*** you!?!? A pity in some ways this was before the days of 'Parental Advice' stickers - they always seem to INCREASE interest amongst teenagers!

 

Take 54

What a start!  I'm not the biggest lover of saxophones in rock/pop(1) but the triple whammy sax from Bobby Keys, Jim Price and Klaus Voorman (didn't even know he could play sax!) that hits you at the opening of this track with Ringo's drums always makes me sit up and come to attention.  It's Perry's production again, of course - the space and clarity he gives each instrument within the mix...but the saxes benefit throughout this song largely because they are playing in unison most of the time - giving a bigger and raunchier sound than could have been achieved by double-tracking or by adding reverb.  Saxes are definitely to the fore on this track although it is well worth listening for Nicky Hopkins(2) and his piano lines as well.  Bobby Keys takes the ripping solo, though.

When I say Ringo's drums I mean that one Richard Starkey sat behind the kit.  Because of record label politics he was credited here as 'Ritchie Snare' - a thinly disguised pseudonym if there ever was one. I often hear people decrying Ringo's drumming as twee and simplistic but tracks like this really show just how solid and powerful a sound he could produce.  Even the fills are more complex than Ringo was known for. If the credit had read Jim Gordon or Jim Keltner no-one would be surprised but to hear Ringo was the one drumming on 'Take 54' raises a few eyebrows. 

Vocally the track does not tax Harry but he delivers the song without 'pushing' his voice too much and it works well.  This album-opener sets the height of the bar our 'tolerance chips' need to be set at throughout the remainder - and that's quite low!  The song is about making out with a groupie and Harry sings about singing his balls off and breaking the microphone!

The guitar is played here by Lowell George (of Little Feat fame).  George claimed not to have been paid for his work, however and the story goes that Van Dyke Parks recommended he send Nilsson a telegram reading 'Pay me, Schmay me.'  He did and received payment by return!  George worked with Harry again in 1979 on the Flash Harry album co-writing 'Cheek to Cheek' with Parks and George's death in June 1979 came just weeks after the recording.

There is a curious interlude between tracks one and two that has always intrigued me.  Strange, 'horror-movie' sound effects and snoring - a ghostly voice - and an advertisement for RCA records and tapes!  Why?  (Not that I've ever minded it - in fact I quite like it...it jst seems such a bizarre thing to do!)

Remember (Christmas)

If Son of Schmilsson does not contain a 'Without You' then this song should be regarded a lot higher than it is.  But when Remember was issued as a single it failed to make an impression at all (highest position was 63) - a fact I am now (and always have been) staggered by! It is undoubtedly THE stand-out track on the album (great though the rest is!) and seems to have an excellent following in 'the business' where it has been used time and time again by artists, film-makers etc.  The most notable use in movies is in the smash hit Tom Hanks/Meg Ryan movie 'You've Got Mail' where virtually the whole song is heard (in 2 parts and with extra incidental music woven into it - several 'fans' have put together alternate versions of the whole song from these - easy to do as the DVD of the movie contains a wonderful 'music-only' soundtrack.  It is also well-worth listening to the commentary by director Nora Ephron and the affection with which she talks about Nilsson and his music).

Although its use in 'You've Got Mail' is clearly linked with Christmas (putting up the 'Twinkle Lights' and decorating the shop window) I have always failed to see the need for the 'Christmas' part of the title. Could that be a reason why the song was not a single, I wonder?  Might it have been a Christmas hit if RCA hadn't wanted to 'forget' the album by December?

Either way, Remember is one of the best ballads Nilsson ever composed (possibly my equal favourite with 'All I Think About is You') and is certainly one of the songs I have listened to most in my whole life.  I cannot find fault with any part of it - the beautiful strings, arranged by Del Newman (who had also worked with Elton John and Cat Stevens), the clever addition of a bouzouki by Chris Spedding...but above all else sit two of the most remarkable musical performances I have ever heard from Harry and Nicky Hopkins.

Hopkins piano part in 'Remember' is utter genius.  It's an over-worked word in reviewing and many fewer artists/performances have deserved it than have had it conferred upon them.  Yet here it rings true. For a start Hopkins is asked to play in E major - 4 sharps!  You ask most pianists and this is not a popular key.  Most of my friends who play piano tell me they would rather play in 5 flats than even 3 sharps.  I had wanted to play 'Remember' for many years but it was only a few years ago when Warner released 'The Harry Nilsson Anthology' that I was finally able to try!  Most piano/vocal books ever published have awful, simplified arrangements (the one I mentioned in the Nilsson Schmilsson review that contained the Buckminster Fuller blueprints is a typical example). To my utter joy (and amazement!) the Warner book has Hopkins's piano part transcribed virtually note for note and just looking at it is enough to see the detail, the complexity - the GENIUS - of his work.  Even more interesting, in a way, is to watch the beautiful 'Remember' scene in the documentary where we see Harry and Nicky working out the arrangement - working out how the other works, where to speed up or slow down, how long to wait on the pauses - and to see the way Hopkins feels his way around the keyboard in the extended improvised ending.  It is different on that film but still excellent - it just so happens that the improvisation of the 'official' released version is the perfect one and I would not change a note.  (listen to an alternate improvisation here - if I need to take this short sample down for copyright reasons I will do so. Just contact me.)

So, finally, to Harry's performance on the song.  Let it suffice to say that, if I ever had to convince someone else about the beauty of Nilsson's voice, the extent of his range, the control, the ease with which he was able to capture a moment in musical time and wrap it in velvet - then I would choose 'Remember (Christmas)'

Sublime.  Number one on my Desert Island Discs.  I'll never be without this song wherever I go, for the rest of my life.

Joy

After a raunchy rocker and a wonderful ballad most artists would either choose a mid-tempo song or another rocker. Not our Harry!  Track three is pure Country and Western!  So authentic is this C&W pastiche that RCA even released it as a single on their dedicated Country label - not as a Harry Nilsson single but under another pseudonym...this time Buck Earl.

It has been interesting to watch this song evolve and its composing process through the various demos etc that have resurfaced over the past few years.  We first hear the song in an early form in the BBC Concert where it is a straight ballad.  Then there are the two demo versions available on the Camden reissue - the guitar-based demo is nearer to the final C&W version while the piano version goes off in a whole new direction again.  Harry was obviously prepared to try out a lot of things to see how this song would work best - and this C&W album version is where it finished up.

To add a real authentic touch Red Rhodes, a well-known session musician who had worked on several Monkees albums, was called in to add his expertise on the pedal steel guitar and it is this instrument, so closely associated with C&W that takes this song so firmly into that genre.  Barry Morgan, whose son Brett now plays with rock legend Greg Lake adds drums.  But soaring over all the instruments in terms of both interest and substance is, once more Nicky's piano.

Harry speak-sings the song in his best 'bass' voice with a much heavier-than-usual American accent, only singing in the choruses where he layers his vocals into harmony in a very similar way that we had heard on 'Let the Good Times Roll'.

Joy became a deeply personal song to me in 1979 when I endured my most unhappy teenage love affair with a beautiful young girl called Kay. She played 2nd violin in my school orchestra and we went out, then we didn't - then we did, then we didn't - and so on.  It was the first time I could relate to Country and Western and, in particular, this song.  The relationship was productive, though - I ended up writing my first two love songs (if everyone was happy - who'd need them?) and a poem, and you can read here how 'Kay was my "Joy"!'

Turn On Your Radio

Two features stand out for me on this track. Firstly, the interplay between guitar and bass in the intros - I particularly like the string-glide you can hear.  Secondly, the horns have a great sound (although none of the players are credited).  This is due to the writing of Kirby Johnson who had previously worked with Carly Simon, Bonnie Raitt and Van Dyke Parks.

A lovely relaxed vocal from Harry suits the song entirely and the line EQ'd to sound like a transistor radio is both fitting and a satisfying piece of production.

None of which prepares you for what is to come...

You're Breaking My Heart

Harry used the excuse "What are you going to say? Darn it?"  In other words - if your heart's been broken your feelings are probably a bit stronger!

I don't think it's unfair to speculate that this song probably lost Nilsson more fans than he gained - many had tolerated what they saw as his self-indulgent leaning towards heavier rock over the last year or so because he could still come up with an 'I'll never Leave You' or 'Without You' but they can be forgiven, I think, for believing this song was a step too far.  Radio stations blanked it, or worse, came up with a remix using 'but I love you' in place of the offending phrase making the song totally non-sensical!  Other shops were reported to have taken razor blades and scratched across the grooves of this track.  In Spain they removed the song from the album completely.

YBMH has, on the other hand, often been suggested as 'the best ever break-up song'.

Like I said above, until I left home I only ever heard this song with headphones - and my guess is, I'm not alone in that!  My parents loved Nilsson - they used to hear me playing it and ask me to make up tape compilations for them to play in the car.  I was only too happy to oblige!  But I picked the songs carefully.  My dad is gone now but I still smile when I visit my mum and she has the 'As Time Goes By' CD on the hi-fi (the only original Nilsson CD she and dad owned).

(I don't think mum's naive enough not to have cottoned on that Harry had a 'dark' side - but she just enjoys what she wants to enjoy and leaves me to make my own mind up on the rest.  Having said that I don't think she knows - or probably wants to know - the full story.)

So...onto the song...

That is one raunchy intro!  Just a few chords in length but enough to let you know something's coming (especially after the rather laid-back feel of the three preceding tracks). The whole arrangement is very sax-oriented with Jim Price, Bobby Keys and Klaus Voorman all wielding their 'horns' and George Harrison adds slide guitar.

There is a very funny scene in 'Did Somebody Drop His Mouse?' (henceforth referred to as DSDHM) in which Harry recalls that, after recording one day, he and the 'horny' trio demolished several bottles of brandy before embarking on an attempt to create a dance routine to go with the song.  Keys donned his best pink drapes, Harry a sparkly suit and hat and, to match the rest who had their instruments on straps around their necks, he donned a microphone stand.  Several hours later it was the poor cameraman who called time on the festivities (maybe they didn't offer to share the brandy with him!).

Scenes from the choreograph session (click to enlarge):

 

Spaceman

I don't know why this song has always left me a little colder than, perhaps, it deserves - it just doesn't do a lot for me...  It might be as simple a fact as its placement at the start of side two - remember when we only had time to play half an album or found it just as easy to change the record as turn it over?  Whatever the reasoning I just don't seem to get as much out of this track as I know some other Nilsson fans do.  The medium-tempo rock is built on more solid drumming from Ringo and there another (very inventive) Paul Buckmaster orchestration (in places reminding me of Mike McNaught's Knnillssonn orchestrations yet to come). 

Again Perry's production gives the instruments plenty of space and there is masses of reverb on the drums in particular.  Harry's voice is also heavily reverbed throughout.  Some of the harmony parts are very effective - especially when also put through an effect processor (did they use a Leslie speaker - sounds like it?)

((The 'bring me back down' line does not sound like Harry - I suspect it was Richard))

When released as a single Spaceman reached number 23 in the charts (possibly hindered by Elton John's similarly themed 'Rocket Man' around the same time) and the song has been used to good effect in numerous TV programmes and films (including 'Contact' starring Jodie Foster).

The Lottery Song

Another of the 'lesser' songs on the album this little ditty is delivered in a simple but effective way.  DSDHM shows Harry playing with the song in its earliest form - he claimed he had only written it the night before.  The acoustic arrangement works well - mainly just piano and three acoustic guitars.  Harry's layered-harmony backing vocals sound great.  The song is far better in its final version than it ever appeared it would be if you saw/heard the initial, repetitive demo-ing in the documentary!  Again, I think Richard lends his voice near the end.

There is another 'interlude' here - we hear an outtake from 'Remember' - the songs starts then Harry belches and laughs.  Schoolboy humour again but it proves a great intro to...

At My Front Door (Abner/Moore)

I've heard a lot of music in my time and, although I like some 'rock and roll' I'm not an avid fan of it - who was it that said 'there's only so much you can do with a 12 bar blues'?  But if I had to have just one song in my collection it wouldn't be Chuck, Elvis or even Jerry Lee - it would be this one.  I regard this as rock and roll perfection.  It was the second Nilsson song I ever heard (after Daybreak, of course - see here) and I played it over and over again then - and still do now.  Of all the great songs on this album this is the one that makes me press repeat the most often!

The song was written by Ewart Abner and John Moore, and was a hit for The El-Dorados in 1955 (Moore was the group's manager).

This version really rocks.  Ringo drums as efficiently as ever (he later recorded his own version of the song with his All-Starr Band), the guitars by Peter Frampton and Chris Spedding blister - the solo is just great - and one of the few I ever bothered sitting down and learning note-for-note.  To this day if I play a 12-bar in A I slip this solo in!  The sax also gets a short solo before it gets taken over by Nicky's piano (but then a full one next break).  It all sounds like they had so much fun recording it!

Perry's production, for once, loses its clarity but the effect of this is to give the song even more of a 'live' feel (crowd noises are overdubbed throughout)

Ambush

Now this is a track I really treasure!  It conjures up such an atmosphere of the hopelessness of war - in the same way movies like 'Saving Private Ryan' and 'Full Metal Jacket' do.  I can feel myself as part of the troop of soldiers keeping their spirits up by singing only to fall into a booby-trap and get mown down by Jim Price's inevitable brassy machine gun!

From its opening notes the guitar sets the bluesy scene - more instruments join in but never clamour space in another very 'open' and spacious mix. By the time the piano enters the groove is established and then the low-pitched, sleazy trumpet enters sounding more akin to a seedy speakeasy than a battlefront but, nevertheless, it works! 

The brass throughout this song is superb - all instruments played by Price showing, his sensitivity, invention and versatility.  Often, early in the song the brass is low in the mix and needs to be listened for (always a venture well-worth the effort!) but as the song progresses it comes much more to the fore.  (How I'd love a 5:1 surround mix of this album!!!)

The song builds in power and intensity as it nears the melee then explodes in a wonderful overdose of pathos...

You want to join in the chorus and find yourself singing along - you find yourself ducking the bullets as well!  And Harry enjoyed it all so much he repeated the chorus again - this time leaving Price to emphasise the sucker-punchline in unmistakeable fashion! Fabulous stuff!

I'd Rather Be Dead

Of all the styles of music on this chop-suey(3) of an album this has to be the most surprising!  A Bavarian-style folk group (The Henry Krein Quartet) playing a slowed-down polka beat accompanied by a choir of old-aged-pensioners who were high on copious sherry!

This had to have started out as a practical joke!  Harry had this song - a cry in favour of voluntary euthanasia.  Who better to sing it than actual candidates!  The story is well-documented how Harry became nervous at the last moment and Richard took him across the street to buy a new suit while the coaches neared Trident and the song-sheets were being duplicated.

But, on the contrary, the documentary shows us just how willing the elderly participants were to join in!  One glass of sherry each was enough for any doubts and inhibitions to be shed - three or four glasses and we ended up with a brilliant recording.  And there is no doubt - the highlight of the song is the participation of the OAPs - I just love picking out the individual voices:  the ones who didn't quite hit the right pitch on the first entry, the man with the cracked voice singing fortissimo in the 'tie my tie' section and standing out - but, especially. the woman who obviously fancied herself as a retired operatic diva and soars into unwritten descents.  Then they all start clapping like delegates in a Salvation Army over-60's rally!

Well, the Stepney and Pinner Choir - Club Number 6 - go down in history for the recording alone but I think it so nice that the film of the sessions immortalize so many of the characters in that said club.  Most notable is a man known only as 'Tom' who drew attention to himself because he had a squeaky wooden leg that could be heard in the control room during the recording! Sadly, because the documentary was never finished (or released - wouldn't it be a fantastic DVD extra when 'Who Is Harry Nilsson (And Why Is Everybody Talking About Him?)' gets a home release even in its incomplete form...) very few, if any, of the families of these participants will have ever seen the footage.  If I were a young Londoner and the afore-mentioned 'Tom' was the great-grandfather I had never met (he was 85 at the time of recording!) how I would treasure being able to see this film...

...For now here are some stills (click to enlarge) :

Old Tom - with the squeaky wooden leg - "See you next album!"

  you can see the fun they had and the wonderful way they joined in the fun!

 The Most Beautiful World in the World

The climax of the album is, most fittingly, a production number in the 'old school' sense.  All that is left to the imagination are the Busby Berkeley girls spinning round and round on some structure in the middle of the studio floor...

The orchestra were there, the music is fittingly appropriate - it's all there...

...along with a rinse and spit, a gargle, a Maurice Chevalier impression, Del Newman's strings - and another dose of schoolboy humour to finish!

The song itself is that familiar amalgam of sheer beauty, word-painting and that typical Nilsson vulgarity.  I always got the impression Harry was likening the 'world' in this song to a woman's body - but that might just be me...

In reality this is two songs - and two songs that don't really seem to have much to do with each other at times.  The first is the up-tempo, slightly Latin section (with the French accented vocals) and the latter (on Richard Perry's suggestion by all accounts) the big, lush and 'production number' ending.  It is an ending that befits ending a record like this one - a magnificent, grandiose and beauteous collaboration between writer/singer, producer and arranger.

Of course, just as you are sitting back admiring this cathedral of sound, like a fart in the middle of a Bible reading in that cathedral, up pops our impish Harry with his line about rolling her over and giving her a feel!

Just time for Harry and Richard to exchange thanks and 'see you next album'(4) before the end.  Back to side one for a repeated play - almost every time!

Bonus Tracks:

Camden reissue:-

Joy - guitar demo

(see above)

Joy - piano demo

(see above)

RCA reissue:-

What's Your Sign

Most Nilsson fans were aware of  this early version of the song which would eventually surface on Duit On Mon Dei from the widely circulated incomplete 'Did Somebody Drop His Mouse' documentary in which a run through is featured.  The main difference between this and the later version is that this is in a 'swing' 12/8 style whereas the later take was was in straight 4/4 and more Gospel-tinged.  

Take 54 (alternate edit)

Campo de Encino (Webb)

I first heard this track in Curtis Armstrong's car!  How about that?  We had arranged to meet up at the Hollywood Bowl while I was on a tour of Southern California with Portsmouth Citadel Salvation Army Band in early 2002 and he later drove me round to the Chinese Theatre where I joined up with the band again, On the short journey we had enough time to listen to this gem of a find.  Here is Curtis's recollection of the discovery:

"Alan (Boyd) had been at BMG the day we first found this track, along with Marilyn Wilson.  They were both in town for the Brian Wilson tribute concert at Radio City Music Hall.  John and Andrea (Sheridan) were there too, I think.  Anyway, this thing came on and it sounded like hell to the rest of us, but Alan got this funny look on his face and later, after we had written it off, asked if we could isolate the individual tracks and let him try and make something of them.  We got permission and that's how it happened.  As I recall Bones Howe came in that day too, and we played him Harry's beautiful demo of Black Sails.  He patted the empty tape box and murmured "Oh, Harry..."  It was a special day."

Apparently the original tape had all sorts of added instruments played very badly, including Harry's infamously appalling attempts at drumming.  It is hard to imagine how Alan Boyd heard the magic through the mess but he did - and we should all be grateful for this is one of the very best finds from all the unearthed diamonds in recent years.

Harry's piano is the only remaining accompaniment and, though it is charmingly simple, it does make one wish for a Nicky Hopkins or Gary Wright to have been in the studio that day - it is the same piano as most of the other demos we have heard over the years (and some finished songs to boot!) and the same style I employed myself in my teens when I became a Nilsson-inspired budding songwriter.  It is easy to see how songs like 'Maybe', 'Remember', 'Think About Your Troubles' and 'The Moonbeam Song' came to be written when you hear this - as well as understanding where Harry's 'personal touch' to songs like 'Without You' and 'Save The Last Dance For Me' came from when you consider his stylistic limitations as a pianist.

Yet, above the familiar broken chords Nilsson's voice soars and glides at its very, very best.  Emotion bleeds from every syllable, falsetto soars and glides like an eagle over the mountains...and this reviewer get all carried away again...

...probably destined for a permanent place in my all time top-ten Nilsson tracks.

Daybreak (single version)

Daybreak

It is nice to have these 2 tracks on 'official' CD at last.  The only CD release of the 'Son of Dracula' soundtrack album was in Japan and, when and if they ever come up for sale on eBay they reach hundreds of pounds each.  I was fortunate enough to be given an excellent copy of the album, complete with laser-printed artwork, several years ago by another Nilsson fanatic...but there's nothing like an original, is there?

There is very little difference between the two versions - a proper intro to the former as opposed to the fade in from 'It Is He Who Will Be King' is one and the other is the repeated 'making me cough' line to substitute for 'p***ing me off' - making a nonsense of the poetry but facilitating radio airplay! 

It is worth noting that Daybreak was never intended for Son Of Schmilsson but its inclusion here seems the most appropriate place for it, seeing as there will never be another CD release of the Son Of Dracula soundtrack album.

 

(1) What a confession! How can I justify a statement like that? Here goes...  Of course I recognise that saxophones have their place and I willingly recognise that the instrument made some great contributions to classic rock/pop tracks - the solo in Billy Joel's 'Just the Way You Are', 'Baker St' wouldn't be the same...'Careless Whisper', Spandau Ballet's 'True' - and, to be sure, there are loads more than those, they are just four that came immediately to mind - it's just that I prefer keyboards to fill that role in bands.  That is most definitely NOT to say that I prefer keyboards PRETENDING to be saxophones.  DEFINITELY NOT!  That particular attempt at imitation is one of the worst things in 'music' I can think of!

(2) Nicky Hopkins was one of the most important session musicians in rock history.  He was unable to tour due to suffering from Crohn's Disease and so preferred studio work.  he played on many memorable recordings including The Who's 'My Generation', several Rolling Stones albums and 'Revolution' (single version) by The Beatles. As mentioned above it is his lovely piano work that makes John Lennon's 'Jealous Guy' so memorable.  He released a solo album in 1973 (on which he sings) and died in 1994, aged just 50, from further intestinal problems.

(3) Not many people know that chop-suey - one of the most famous of all Chinese Takeaway meals - means, in English, 'mixed bits'.  I thought it quite an appropriate tag for Son of Schmilsson!  I like chop-suey as well!

(4) Harry and Richard never worked together again.  Perry has expressed his disappointment in how Son of Schmilsson turned out on many occasions and he left the project somewhat disillusioned with a heavy-drinking, hap-hazard Harry.  When he interviewed him for the re-release Curtis expressed his surprise that Perry was such a different man from the one he had previously interviewed re Nilsson Schmilsson.  He could barely remember some songs at all and it was a struggle for Curtis to find enough 'useable' comments for the liner notes. The line 'see you next album' comes directly from Old Tom (he of the squeaky wooden leg!) who uttered just those words to Harry as he re-boarded the bus after the session - with the subsequent, and brilliant, line - 'if I'm still alive!'