Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Consumer Guide Album

Harry Nilsson: Nilsson Schmilsson [RCA Victor, 1971]
In which the whimsy and vocal pyrotechnics of Aerial Ballet and Pandemonium Shadow Show (now cunningly collapsed into a disc called Aerial Pandemonium Ballet) are apotheosized under the direction of popmeister Richard Perry. The bathrobed recluse who shows his unshaven face on the cover (his well-stocked fridge is on the back) veers from kitsch fantasy both romantic ("Without You") and comic ("Coconut") to terrified evocations of everyday existence (the cockeyed antemeridian triptych--"Gotta Get Up," "Driving Along," and "Early in the Morning"--that kicks off side one). The two-and-a-half years since his last real LP, Harry, have been worth it--if only every artist could learn to mark time until a good one was ready. A