...of Harry Nilsson reissues! :-)
You know, I'd known for quite some time about Harry and his works and talents, but it took me until this year to actually explore them. I feel guilty now for ignoring this man's music for so long - I first heard "Best Friend" as the theme song to "The Courtship of Eddie's Father" (which I saw in syndication in the mid '70s as a kid watching Saturday morning TV), and of course, I've heard his big hits ("Everybody's Talkin'," "Without You," "Jump Into the Fire") many times in various settings. I even knew about his close relationship with John Lennon during Lennon's "lost weekend." Thus, missing out on his music seems an almost unpardonable sin...until you realise, as I did, that you can be pardoned if you just indulge.
And indulge I have - I started with Sony's recently-issued Essential Harry Nilsson, and on one listen, I realised that I loved what I was hearing and resolved to buy at least his first 8 albums or so if I could find all of them. Starting with this Original Album Classics set seemed the smartest way to dive in head-first - here, you have the expanded remasters of his 2nd (Aerial Ballet), 3rd (Harry), 6th (Nilsson Schmilsson), 7th (Son of Schmilsson) and 8th (A Little Touch of Schmilsson in the Night) albums in one glorious set for a bargain price. They all sound good, and the tuneage is simply not to be missed - from his early originals like "One" (which became a major hit for Three Dog Night), "Good Old Desk," "I Guess the Lord Must Be in New York City" to his later rockers like "Jump Into the Fire" (and you MUST have the full 7-minute track - the single edit on Essential *isn't* essential) and "You're Breakin' My Heart," this is pop music gold. It still, quite frankly, blows my mind that he had bigger hits with others' songs ("Everybody's Talkin'" - written by Fred Neil - being a #6 hit single and "Without You" - originally written and recorded by Badfinger [a story with its own tragic side, but a story for another day] - being his only #1 hit) than with his own, which saw their success in the hands of others...but such is the world of pop music.
What this package does not include, unfortunately, is his 1967 debut album Pandemonium Shadow Show, his 1970 album Nilsson Sings Newman (in which he pays loving tribute to another then-ascendent and underappreciated talent, the one and only Randy Newman), and the soundtracks to Otto Preminger's film "Skidoo" (which, in fairness, is only partly Nilsson material) and the cartoon "The Point!" (Harry's own idea, a family-friendly bit of sly punnery that is a joy to listen to). All of these are available on their own, however - BMG packaged Skidoo and The Point! together in their Nilsson twofer/threefer repackaging campaign, and domestically, The Point! can be had by itself in deluxe packaging with bonus tracks. The Nilsson/Newman album is available on its own as is PSS (but PSS is out of print, so it's mostly used copies that are available - what few new copies you can find are prohibitively expensive, although I recommend grabbing them up if you can afford to do so; I went the used route for myself). You will also not find Aerial Pandemonium Ballet, Harry's 1971 distillation of his first 2 albums into remixes which I have elected to pass on - with the originals available to me, it made more sense to go with them.
Another NB, this of a technical nature: This box lists, as one of the bonus tracks on the expanded Son of Schmilsson, "It Had to Be You (Jam Session)" - it is the last of 5 bonus tracks, according to the box. However, when I loaded the CD into my PC's disc drive, Windows Media Player omitted this track, listing only 15 on the disc instead of 16. As "It Had to Be You" - NOT as a jam - is included on A Little Touch of Schmilsson..., I didn't miss the track at all. (If anyone else who has this box has noticed this issue, would you let me know? WMP has omitted a track or two in the time I've been using it, even when the track was there - it isn't a case of it showing up as (Unknown Track), it's just plain not there.)
Apart from that, I do recommend this set. It's a great entry point for anyone interested in Harry's music, although your best bet will almost invariably be one of the best-of anthologies available - Essential Harry Nilsson truly fills the bill, as it covers his entire RCA catalogue. But if you're feeling more adventurous, put the lime in the coconut and buy this set - then you'll feel better. ;-)