Flash Harry [Bonus Tracks]

by: Harry Nilsson

Though Knnillssonn supposedly ends Harry Nilsson's American discography, there's another item: a little-known, one-off album for Mercury/Phonogram that was recorded in Los Angeles and released in Great Britain but not. apparently, in the U.S. This would be Flash Harry -- the English nickname for a snappy dresser, which at this time, Nilsson was notoriously not. Surrounded by his pals and many crack L.A. session men and guests, with Steve Cropper behind the production controls, Nilsson seems to struggle to stay interested in this project; conserving his cigarettes-and-alcohol-ravaged voice; collaborating on some new songs but often relying upon others for material. He doesn't even appear on the leadoff track; instead, Eric Idle and Charlie Dore open the album with Idle's happy-go-lucky ode to Nilsson, "Harry." "Cheek To Cheek" soon dissolves into faux-Mexicanisms; "Rain" experiments amiably with a reggae groove; "I've Got It!" is another of those nutty, late-period Nilsson doodlings -- this time apparently about a transaction with a hooker. As a reminder of his friendship with the then-retired John Lennon, Nilsson covers "Old Dirt Road" in a somewhat strangled voice; in any case, it's not much of a song (Nilsson had a hand in the lyrics); nor does he cast it in a different light from Lennon's own version. Another ex-Beatles buddy, Ringo Starr, plays drums on the album and collaborates with Nilsson on the relaxed reggae tune "How Long Can Disco On" -- whose title is easily the cleverest thing about the track. The best tune of all is the closer -- Nilsson's lazily loping singalong cover of Idle's wickedly ironic "The Bright Side Of Life" (from The Life Of Brian ), which has tripping orchestral trappings that harken back to Nilsson's first RCA recordings with George Tipton. [A 2013 release added four bonus tracks.] ~ Richard S. Ginell

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