Thursday, November 11, 2010

Harry Nilsson (with John Lennon) - Pussy Cats (1974)




The relationship between Harry Nilsson and John Lennon is legendary. They were notorious booze hounds and carousers, getting kicked out of clubs for misbehavior and generally terrorizing L.A. during Lennon's "lost weekend" of 1974. They wanted to make an album together -- hell, anyone working at such a peak would -- and the result was Pussy Cats, a Nilsson album produced by Lennon. Almost immediately, Nilsson got sick, resulting in a ruptured vocal cord. Not wanting Lennon to stop the sessions, Nilsson never told his friend, stubbornly working his way through the sessions until he lost his voice entirely. These are the sessions that make up Pussy Cats, an utterly bewildering record that's more baffling than entertaining. Like many superstar projects of its time, this is studded with contributions from friends and studio musicians, all intent on having a good time in the studio -- which usually means hammering out rock & roll oldies. In this case, it meant both Dylan's "Subterranean Homesick Blues" and the children's song "Loop de Loop," which gives a good idea where Nilsson was at. Through its messiness, Pussy Cats winds up showing how he and Lennon violently careened between hedonism and self-loathing. Of the new songs, the inadvertently revealing "All My Life" is the strongest, followed by the sweet "Don't Forget Me," yet this is more about tone than substance. It's about hearing Nilsson's voice getting progressively harsher, as the backing remains appealingly professional and slick. It doesn't quite jibe, and it's certainly incoherent, but that's its charm. It may not be as wild as the lost weekend itself, but it couldn't have been recorded at any other time and remains a fascinating aural snapshot of the early days of 1974.

1. Harry Nilsson - Many Rivers To Cross (5:00)
2. Harry Nilsson - Subterranean Homesick Blues (3:20)
3. Harry Nilsson - Don't Forget Me (3:39)
4. Harry Nilsson - All My Life (3:12)
5. Harry Nilsson - Old Forgotten Soldier (4:15)
6. Harry Nilsson - Save the Last Dance for Me (4:30)
7. Harry Nilsson - Mucho Mungo / Mt. Elga (3:45)
8. Harry Nilsson - Loop de Loop (2:44)
9. Harry Nilsson - Black Sails (3:17)
10. Harry Nilsson - Rock Around the Clock (3:12)
11. Harry Nilsson - Down By the Sea (5:36)
12. Harry Nilsson - The Flying Saucer Song (6:28)
13. Harry Nilsson - Turn Out the Light (2:31)
14. Harry Nilsson - Save the Last Dance for Me (4:26)


Produced by John Lennon, Pussy Cats was recorded during John's "Lost Weekend" in Los Angeles, California.
Harry Nilsson injured his vocal cords during the recording sessions.

After recording A Little Touch of Schmilsson in the Night Harry announced that he would record an album of songs by Allen Toussaint. Instead, he and John recorded Pussy Cats.


Bass: Klaus Voormann
Choir, Chorus: Damon Vigiano
Choir, Chorus: Kristin Turner
Choir, Chorus: Cantey Turner
Choir, Chorus: David Steinberg
Choir, Chorus: Peri Prestopino
Choir, Chorus: Phylida Paterson
Choir, Chorus: Rachel Mueller
Choir, Chorus: Erik Mueller
Choir, Chorus: Troy Germano
Choir, Chorus: Susie Bell
Choir, Chorus: Nathalie Altman

Drums: Ringo Starr
Drums: Keith Moon

Drums: Jim Keltner
Guitar: Jesse Ed Davis
Guitar: Danny Kootch
Marimbas: Cynthia Webb
Pedal Steel Guitar: Sneaky Pete Kleinow
Piano: Jane Getz
Saxophone: Gene Cipriano
Saxophone: Jim Horn
Saxophone: Bobby Keyes
Saxophone: Trevor Lawrence
Trombone: Chuck Findley
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