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Skidoo / The Point

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Average Rating
★★★★☆
(9 Reviews)

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  • 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
    Aerial Ballet
    Skidoo
    Harry
    Nilsson Sings Newman
    The Point!
    Nilsson Schmilsson
    Aerial Pandemonium Ballet
    Son Of Schmilsson
    A Little Touch of Schmilsson In The Night
    P*ssy Cats
    Duit It On Mon Dei
    Sandman
    That’s The Way It Is
    Knnillssonn

    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.

    Posted on January 17, 2010 - Permalink - Buy Now
  • On the advice of another reviewer here i chose the British BMG Entertainment International UK & Ireland Ltd. pressing of 2000, supposedly the best sound available. Unlike many reviewers here I bought it for the Skidoo soundtrack, a classic humdinger of a movie unavailable in video. Like many who have seen the film I felt Carol Channing singing the title song was not only unforgetable, but a standout. In fact to hear a clear unedited version was the reason I bought this CD. Unfortunately about half way through her song the master started to go pop…pop…pop… for almost 30 seconds. This is certainly a factory flaw. I tried playing my flawless brand new CD right out of shrink wrap on various high end CD players in different systems; the pops were still there! Maybe they used the master they did due to its otherwise crisp clean sound, but for me it was a heartbreaking disapointment i spent top dollar on and waited weeks for! I decided to give an extra 2 stars for the 2 splendid versions of I will take You There, and of course the wonderful story The Point, but try to buy the NON british version if there is one for the sake of what may be the best song on here; especially if you have seen the movie.

    Posted on January 17, 2010 - Permalink - Buy Now
  • An oddball coupling of two of Harry Nilsson’s stranger excursions. “Skidoo” is the soundtrack to Otto Preminger’s famously misguided attempt at a “psychedelic comedy” – I think I saw it once when I was about 7 but it doesn’t seem to exist in any of my local video stores. Much of the soundtrack is fairly straight-ahead soundtrack music – difficult to know how much is Harry’s work and how much is arranger George Tipton’s. The most famous aspect of the album (and film probably!) is that the credits are sung by Nilsson! This credit track is a brilliant display of Harry’s marvellous vocal inventiveness – you often hear people say of a great singer that they could “sing the phone book and make it interesting”, well Harry not only makes the credits interesting but amusing too! Also amusing is “Garbage Can Ballet” an entertaining little bagatelle with sweetly silly and inventive lyrics. “I Will Take You There” is a simply exquisite pop ballad, released as a single it inexplicably bombed, both versions are included on this CD and, for the record, I favour the album version. The only other “song” on the album is the silly title song, sung unfortunately by Carol Channing (but then it’s unfortunate when Carol Channing sings ANY song). (By the way, Harry’s in the film too, he plays a “tower guard”, as he is at pains to point out in “The Cast and Crew”!)”The Point” was Harry’s animated parable about Oblio, his dog Arrow and the Land of Point. Like “Skidoo”, I saw this once when I was about 7, I think it probably made more sense to me than “Skidoo”! The album consists of Harry narrating the story (Dustin Hoffman narrated the film), punctuated by the odd cartoon-like song. At first hearing, the songs seem slight: the lyrics simplistic, the music even simpler but then you realise that this is an album for CHILDREN and that Harry and his arranger George Tipton get it EXACTLY right. Tipton’s arrangements are beautiful little miniatures with a twinkly, almost electronic, feel – Brian Wilson claimed that his inspiration for his mostly execrable “fairytale” on the Beach Boys’ “Holland” album had been “drinking cider and listening to Randy Newman’s “Sail Away”", the cider bit I can believe but don’t try to tell me that Brian hadn’t been very closely listening to “The Point” and Tipton’s arrangements! Nilsson’s lyrics have a sing-song nursery rhyme quality in “Everybody’s Got ‘Em” and “Poli High”. If Brian Wilson ripped Harry for “Mt. Vernon and Parkway” then Harry cops a major Beach Boys influence on “Poli High”, just listened to that backing vocal of massed Harry’s! There are good songs in amongst the fun – “Think About Your Troubles” has a marvellous intricate Zen-like lyric which demonstrates two of Harry’s greatest qualities as a songwriter: his intelligence and his lack of pretension. “Lifeline” is a just wonderful ballad – generous of Harry to give this song to a cartoon about a boy and his dog! How often you would want to listen to the narration is debatable but you can certainly spend many hours listening to the songs. Once again in this excellent series of re-issues from RCA there are good bonus tracks to savour. The single version of “I Will Take You There” I’ve mentioned but the 1969 single “Down to the Valley” is worthy of further comment. A breezy, brassy foot-stomper of a song, it’s interesting in that lyrically and musically it prefigures “The Point!” by about two years – did Harry already have “The Point” under his (pointed) hat in 1969? Anyway, the song fits the concept of the movie much more closely than say the love song “Are You Sleeping?” “Dear Friend” was the theme tune of an American TV show, “Eddie’s Father”, which I don’t recall ever having seen. Being a TV theme tune, it says all it’s going to say within the first minute the other minute is largely superfluous. All in all not the most essential CD in any Harry Nilsson collection – Nilsson nuts like myself will want it and over-worked mums with recalcitrant toddlers might want “The Point” to slip on and calm the little monsters down but the world at large can probably live without this CD, fascinating though it is.

    Posted on January 17, 2010 - Permalink - Buy Now
  • Back in the old days before there were entire TV networks devoted to cartoons, kids had to occasionally listen to a story, rather than watch the video! The Point was the story I grew up on! I recently re-discovered it and have now bought copies for all of my friends and family members with young children! This is a wonderful story that is entertaining and fun. And Nilsson even sneaks a little moral lesson in about acceptance and difference — a lesson that is just as relevant today as it was when he created this wonderful story! And, since Nilsson is actually a songwriter, it has some excellent music to back up the whole story! Catchy tunes that you’ll find yourself humming along to. If you have kids, do them a favor and get them this CD! They’ll remember it 30 years later as a really great childhood memory…like I do!

    Posted on January 16, 2010 - Permalink - Buy Now
  • Skidoo, with the exception of a handful of tracks, is probably Harry’s weakest release. It really doesn’t function outside the confines of a soundtrack album although the bits included here are, at turns, ok and amusing to listen to for fans. The real gems are the credits performed by Harry. With tounge firmly in cheek Harry manages to send up the Hollywood credits game (the ultimate one up manship in Hollywood. It’s not who you know but where your billed that matters).The Point! on the other hand is one of Harry’s most charming, witty and funny albums to listen to. There is a secret bonus track (although it’s mentioned in the book notes)(Spoiler alert!). OK, for those of you still with me the b side Buy My Record is included with this edition (just like it is on the DCC edition made in the US). So to paraphrase Harry, Buy this Compact Disc!Two 1/2 stars for Skidoo and Five for The Point!

    Posted on January 16, 2010 - Permalink - Buy Now