In 2006, after painstakingly purchasing and comparing all the Nilsson domestic, European and Japanese CD versions, I posted a review on the best-audio edition of each title. That was split between four UK, one domestic and six Japan CD’s, and this CD was one of those titles.
However, time and technology have marched on. In Q307, the entire Nilsson pre-1978 catalog (except “The Son Of Dracula”, announced but subsequently canceled), were remastered anew and released in mini-sleeve format by BMG Japan.
So, what was slightly confusing before, with all the different international and domestic versions, has now been simply resolved: In terms of the best audio available, the fifteen new BMG remasters are head-and-shoulders superior to any pre-existing Nilsson CD. While the older versions were no slouches, these new BMG’s are absolutely GLORIOUS. And, finally, there’s complete, matched-mastered sound through the entire catalog, in contrast to the dynamic range variations in the older releases from varying remastering schemes.
In A/B comparisons between the new and older versions, it is also obvious different masters were availed of, because there are snippets of additional audio on the BMG’s that never appeared elsewhere.
In addition, there are now approximately seventy bonus tracks spread out through the new BMG set; demos, alternate takes, singles and non-album tracks. Only one previously-available track is not in residence on the BMG set: “Waiting”, which is found only on the “Harry/Nilsson Sings Newman” UK 2-fer.
If you are a true Nilsson fan, then don’t delay in getting these, as all mini-sleeve releases are limited edition. It is possible, of course, that BMG will release these as less expensive jewel-case releases down the road. However, as the original Nilsson LP jackets were often wonderfully imaginative affairs, having these exact replicas only heightens the joy of ownership.
Amazon only allows 10 product links per review, so below are the first ten titles. The remainder, you’ll have to find on your own (TIP: look for the 2007 release date when searching):
Pandemonium Shadow Show
Nilsson Sings Newman
Aerial Pandemonium Ballet
Son Of Schmilsson
A Little Touch of Schmilsson In The Night
Duit It On Mon Dei
That’s The Way It Is
Just in case you find this review after the `sleeve versions have sold out, here is a list of the previous best-in-audio jewel-case CD versions. I will re-post this review on each of the previous editions:
Pandemonium Shadow Show/Aerial Ballet/Aerial Pandemonium Ballet (2CD) (2000) UK BMG/Camden Deluxe (catalog number) 74321 757422
The Point (2000) UK BMG/Camden Deluxe 74321 757432
Harry/Nilsson Sings Newman (2000) UK BMG/Camden Deluxe 74321 757442
Schmilsson (2004) RCA 82876 572652
Son Of Schmilsson (2000) UK BMG/Camden Deluxe 74321 757462
A Little Touch Of Schmilsson In The Night (2002) Japan K2 BVCM-37249
P*ssy Cats (2002) Japan K2 BVCM-37251 (the UK has one extra track not on the K2)
Duit On Mon Dei (2002) Japan K2 BVCM-37252
Sandman (2002) Japan K2 BVCM-37253
That’s The Way It Is (2002) Japan K2 BVCM-37254
Knnillssonn (2002) Japan K2 BVCM-37255
WHAT IS A JAPAN “MINI-LP-SLEEVE” CD?
Have you ever lamented the loss of one of the 20th Century’s great art forms, the 12″ vinyl LP jacket? Then “mini-LP-sleeve” CD’s may be for you.
Mini-sleeve CDs are manufactured in Japan under license. The disc is packaged inside a 135MM X 135MM cardboard precision-miniature replica of the original classic vinyl-LP album. Also, anything contained in the original LP, such as gatefolds, booklets, lyric sheets, posters, printed LP sleeves, stickers, embosses, special LP cover paper/inks/textures and/or die cuts, are precisely replicated and included. An English-language lyric sheet is always included, even if the original LP did not have printed lyrics.
Then, there’s the sonic quality: Often (but not always), mini-sleeves have dedicated remastering (20-Bit, 24-Bit, DSD, K2/K2HD, and/or HDCD), and can often (but not always) be superior to the audio on the same title anywhere else in the world. There also may be bonus tracks unavailable elsewhere.
Each Japan mini-sleeve has an “obi” (“oh-bee”), a removable Japan-language promotional strip. The obi lists the Japan street date of that particular release, the catalog number, the mastering info, and often the original album’s release date. Bonus tracks are only listed on the obi, maintaining the integrity of the original LP artwork. The obi’s are collectable, and should not be discarded.
All mini-sleeve releases are limited edition, but re-pressings/re-issues are becoming more common (again, not always). The enthusiasm of mini-sleeve collecting must be tempered, however, with avoiding fake mini-sleeves manufactured in Russia and distributed throughout the world, primarily on eBay. They are inferior in quality, worthless in collectable value, a total waste of money, and should be avoided at all costs.