Review: Nilsson – The RCA Albums Collection

NilssonRCAHarry Nilsson was an enigma that was loved by many, understood by few.  With a collection of albums to his name that run the gamut from clearly accessible to a few “WTF” issues,  Harry Nilsson has quite the biography.  But, as it all relates to the true Nilsson fan, it all makes perfect sense.

From his first bona fide hit with “Everybody’s Talkin'”, a song that was not written by Harry Nilsson but by Fred Neil, and featured in the film, Midnight Cowboy, to “Daybreak”, Nilsson’s hit years were relatively short.  But from 1969 to 1973, Nilsson had a lot going for him in the way of singles.  And the albums that contained those singles sold well too.

There was much more to Nilsson than his singles.  It was his songcraft that endeared his fans to him.  And his personality.  And the fact that his life was a wave of sadness that led to his early death by a heart attack in 1994.   Much can be said about the music and life of Harry Nilsson.  Many have said it better and so I’ll leave those words to them.  One of those is the recently released Legacy series Box, Nilsson: The RCA Album Collection.

Nilsson: The RCA Album Collection gathers together, as the title says, his RCA output.  From Pandemonium Shadow Show (1967) through the final issue, Knnillsson (1977), this set brings them all together, newly remastered (Vic Anesini), and with an additional three CDs of outtakes, alternate versions, demos, and other collectible works in progress. The original album CD titles each contain their own unique spread of bonus material, e.g. radio spots, alternate versions of songs, live tracks, and single versions. The additional three CDs gathers 58 bonus tracks that include more alternate versions, plenty of demos, radio edits, and previously unreleased songs.  For example, Nilsson’s hit, “Jump Into The Fire” as a single version is available on disc 17 (Nilsson Sessions 1971-1974). On this same disc are demos for “Coconut”, and “Without You”, along with an interesting alternate take of “Jump Into The Fire”.

The set is bolstered by the inclusion of a 48-page booklet that brings photos, essay, notes on each LP, and complete credits to a wonderful reader of Nilsson information.

To put it out there as straightforward as can be accomplished, this Box set is wonderful.  It’s complete with many bonus tracks that enhance the album collections to a greater detail, and making this collection essential to fans.  And as many fans will profess (after all, this box was made for them), this collected set with the added bonuses is exquisitely fitting to slot in after all Harry Nilsson had accomplished, most with RCA Records.

The set is fairly standard for the Legacy Complete Album Collection series.  The discs are in mini-LP cardboard LP replicas, and stored in a flip-top cube.

In essence, almost everything Harry Nilsson gave to the world is in here.  If you have love for Nilsson, then this box is clearly for you.


Release Date: July 30, 2013
Label: RCA Records/Legacy Recordings
Availability: CD

–Matt Rowe