When Harry Nilsson died suddenly in 1994, most considered him retired. His last major release had been the soundtrack for Robert Altman’s Popeye, released in 1980. Furthermore, many in the industry believed Nilsson had ruined his voice during the infamous John Lennon “;ost weekend” era. The debauchery resulted in Pussy Cats, after which he released a slew of merely OK albums. was only found surfacing on tribute records to Yoko Ono and Disney. He worked sporadically and considered himself retired. Losst And Founnd, the “new” Harry Nilsson album, however, puts that speculation to rest, and offers up what few knew existed—the tentative sketches for what might have been a comeback record.
Unbeknownst to anyone outside of his musical circle, Nilsson never stopped writing music. In 1992, he entered the studio to lay down some basic tracks for what might have been a “comeback” album. It’s hard to know exactly what the plans were; he had no label and, unfortunately, labels showed little interest. Times had changed, and the name Harry Nilsson didn’t carry the same weight it had two decades earlier. It didn’t help that Nilsson wasn’t in the best of health, thanks to years of hard living.
Losst And Founnd finds Nilsson giving his best. Though his voice is far from shot, it’s clear that his lifestyle had wreaked havoc on his once-angelic pipes. Understandably, the songs found here are relatively low-key numbers that don’t require much of him. Some of these moments are truly sublime; “Lullaby” is a beautiful ballad, “Lost And Found” is Nilsson offering up a state of the union, while “UCLA” is a clever word-play that finds him longingly reminiscing about his wild days with The Beatles. Only twice does he delve into rockers; “High Heeled Sneakers” and “Yo Dodger Blue” are fun, yet it’s clear he’s can’t deliver the punch the songs require. It’s to the credit of his son Kiefo Nilsson and producer Mark Hudson that they’ve given these songs potent arrangements. On the epic finale “What Does A Woman See In A Man,” Harry sounds like the Nilsson of Schmilsson.
It’s hard to consider Losst And Founnd a lost masterpiece; it isn’t. Instead, the album offers something much sweeter: the sound of a talented middle-aged artist finding his creative bearings. In spite of having no guarantees of a record deal–or even an audience–Nilsson still recorded these songs. Losst And Found shows that the assumed-to-be washed-up master was far from it, and that makes this posthumous collection essential listening.
Purchase Harry Nilsson Losst And Founnd: Amazon / Barnes & Noble / Omnivore Recordings