Tag Archives: Pet Sounds

Rocks In The Attic #584: Nilsson – ‘The Point!’ (1971)

RITA#584
Charity shop finds can be a wonderful thing. To see an album from somebody’s name you recognise alongside a heap of junk records is more than enough motivation to get your wallet out. In a record store, even priced at $4 or $5, I would probably leave this in the racks. Sat alongside a James Last LP though, it suddenly becomes very attractive.

I’m so glad I took the punt and handed over my dollar. My knowledge of Harry Nilsson is very limited outside of Everybody’s Talkin’ and his drunken shenanigans as a key player in John Lennon’s Lost Weekend. I’m aware of Nilsson Schmilsson – a great album title for sure – but haven’t heard much of it save for the ubiquitous Coconut and the much covered Without You (or is that one called Ken Lee?).

So, I wasn’t really sure what to expect from The Point! Was this to be more introspective material, like his early hits, or just some average singer-songwriter fluff? Neither, I tell you. It’s a bonkers record through and through.

The album starts off with a poppy number, in the vein of post-Pet Sounds Beach Boys, entitled Everything’s Got ‘Em. It’s lovely – something you might hear on Holland – but then Nilsson’s spoken-word narration takes over and takes the record somewhere expected. A concept album, the narration and songs tell the fable of Oblio, the only round-headed boy in a village full of pointed-headed people. An animated film accompanies the album, and early pressings of the record were packaged with an illustrated booklet of the story inside (which my dollar copy still had). Although I’d never heard of it before, it was received well enough to be turned into a 1977 stage play featuring Micky Dolenz and Davy Jones from the Monkees.

Nilsson excuses the story as being conceived while on acid – and this isn’t hard to imagine given how fully engaged with the subject material the songs are. Nilsson isn’t dipping his toe in the water here; he’s fully immersed in this world he’s made up. This sort of thing would usually be a turn-off for me, but the songs are so great, and his narration is really nice to listen to.

Hit: Me And My Arrow

Hidden Gem: Everything’s Got ‘Em

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Rocks In The Attic #93: The Beach Boys – ‘Pet Sounds’ (1966)

Rocks In The Attic #93: The Beach Boys - ‘Pet Sounds’ (1966)Okay, stand back. It might not be easy to hear somebody actual say this, but this album is boring. Give me California Girls and Do It Again over this any time.

Supposedly this was influenced greatly by Brian Wilson’s desire to match Rubber Soul. This album then spurred The Beatles on in the recording of Revolver. Arguably the two Beatles albums sound more varied – but you’d expect them to be, being the compositions of three men. Pet Sounds, chiefly written by Brian Wilson with a few others sharing co-writing duties, doesn’t have the advantage of sounding so three-dimensional.

The other thing that really irks me about this album is that people who really love it tend to really hate Sloop John B – like how dare they tarnish such a classic album by daring to cover a traditional folk song? For me, Sloop John B is one of the highlights of the album. Unlike Rubber Soul and Revolver, once you get past Wouldn’t It Be Nice, Sloop John B and God Only Knows, all of the other songs tend to merge into one big melancholic ballad.

Which brings me to God Only Knows. Wilson may have failed with composing an album’s worth of material to challenge The Beatles’ dominance of the pop LP, but in God Only Knows he succeeded majorly in writing an enduring classic, superior to anything else coming over the Atlantic in that decade.

Does it excuse that LP cover though?

Hit: God Only Knows

Hidden Gem: Let’s Go Away For Awhile