by Brian Smith
Harry Nilsson – Son of Schmilsson (Sony-Legacy 2006 reissue)
Nilsson is too fuckin’ smart here and the record buying public responded in kind — the record didn’t blockbuster like '71’s Nilsson Schmilsson, though it’s basically the same cast of characters — Klaus Voorman, producer Richard Perry, Bobby Keys, Chris Spedding etc. — creating the din. It’s the sound of Nilsson’s cherry-eyed cynicism and cockeyed wit kicking into high-gear. It’s the sound of man coming unglued and it’s fucking beautiful. The line “You’re breaking my heart/You’re tearing it apart/So fuck you” works as a pretty swell metaphor. Two years later, Nilsson dived head-first into his Lennon coke/booze blowout days and 1974’s highly underegarded Pussy Cats. Geek aside: Son of Schmilsson was remastered by Sony’s in-house sonic genius Vic Anesini.
The Monkees — More of The Monkees (Rhino 2006 Deluxe reissue)
Dig the version of “Tear Drop City” at its original speed. The bonus version of Boyce and Hart’s “I’ll Spend My Life With You” still drips with sorrow, particularly when one considers the sad life of Tommy Boyce. In his later years, he once chased my ex-wife around a piano at Abbey Road studios expecting a little. But that’s another story.
Carole King/The City — Now That Everything’s Been Said (Sony-Legacy 1999 reissue)
“I Wasn’t Born to Follow” even dovetails Leonard Cohen in a weird way. What a record.
Poco — Crazy Eyes (Sony-Legacy 1995 reissue)
The sweetly overwrought and Bob Ezrin-arranged “Crazy Eyes” sounds like Nightmare-era Alice Cooper in a cowboy hat. The band’s first real sell-out record that didn’t really sell.
Todd Snider — The Devil You Know (New Door)
I’ve always said Snider could be the Greatest American Songwriter drawing a breath; after Willie, of course. Snider is the master at soothing a busted soul, so it's fitting then that ungodly amounts of booze and Todd Snider records provided the backdrop when Natatia came strolling in.
Bee Gees Idea (Polydor)
The forgotten 1968 album marred by “I Started a Joke.” But don’t skip — the power pop of “Kitty Can” and “Indian Gin and Whiskey Dry” is all tooth-decay, as is the album’s pomp, strings and sticky sentiments.
Ian Hunter All American Alien Boy (Columbia 2006, 30th anniversary reissue/import).
Hunter’s 1976 commentary of pop American life he put together upon his move to New York. He’s backed by “real” musicians, including Jaco Pastorius and David Sanborn — but no Mick Ronson. No matter ’cause he even mocks Dylan here, most likely because he knew that he couldn’t be Dylan. A great record that peaks on this foresight-rich line from “Apathy 83”: “Oh, there ain’t no rock ’n’ roll no more/Just the sickly sound of greed.”
Kevin Canty – Winslow in Love (Vintage Contemporaries). All ache, empathy and humor. Canty sees the beauty in the fucked-up and ugly. Dude gets it.