The Essential Nilsson
A missing element in Harry Nilsson's catalog is an excellent double-disc retrospective. That's precisely what the 2013 compilation Essential Harry Nilsson provides: two discs that tell his story from beginning to end, hitting all the high points along the way. The first disc concentrates on his '60s work, chronicling the rise of Nilsson the maverick interpreter and songwriter; his original versions of "Cuddly Toy," "I Guess the Lord Must Be in New York City," and "One" are here, as are his breakthrough cover of Fred Neil's "Everybody's Talkin'" and several selections from the landmark Nilsson Sings Newman, plus such remarkable pieces of popcraft like "1941," "Good Old Desk," "Without Her," and "Me and My Arrow." The entire second disc is devoted to the '70s, beginning with the smash 1971 album Nilsson Schmilsson and its hits -- "Without You," "Coconut," "Jump in the Fire" -- plus the album-opener "Gotta Get Up." From there, hits, non-LP singles, and the occasional oddities pile up -- "You're Breakin' My Heart," "Spaceman," "Daybreak," his straight version of "As Time Goes By," "Kojak Columbo" -- tracing his majestic rise and being kind with his fall. Although this doesn't have every great song Nilsson made (a few absent favorites are "Driving Along," "The Lottery Song," "Take Fifty Four," "Jesus Christ You're Tall"), no other compilation has captured his peculiar genius as thoroughly as this, which does indeed make it something close to the Essential Harry Nilsson.