18. Harry Nilsson—The Point! (1971)
Hey look, this album has almost the exact same title as the last one I reviewed! Mere coincidence? Or am I in fact sneaky enough to have grouped these two albums together in my list intentionally?
I'll leave that for you to decide.
What we have here is an outrageously good pop album ostensibly written for children but which is certainly equally appealing to adults. If you're unfamiliar with it, it's a concept album that tells the story of a round-headed boy born in a town of people who all have pointy heads; and for the record, yes, Nilsson did once confirm in an interview that he came up with the premise while on acid. Not surprisingly my introduction to it was during early childhood, and no doubt it was one of the first records I actually owned. I loved it as a kid but as I grew older I kind of forgot about it, until one day in my mid-20s I heard it playing in a coffee shop. It's a testament to how well-written it is that shortly thereafter I re-acquired it and promptly fell in love with it all over again.
Nilsson was one of those amazing people who make songwriting and performing sound so easy. His voice was beautifully melodic without ever for a second sounding like he was trying hard at all. His songs—in general from what I know but specifically on this album—always sound spontaneous, like he just picked up an instrument and started playing, though they are in fact often elaborately orchestrated. On top of that, the whole thing hangs together supremely as an album both sonically and in terms of the story, which is quite well crafted itself. And most impressively, even though this fable is a tale of exile and isolation, it is incredibly uplifting, lighthearted and beautiful.
Tough days ahead? The end of the world weighing too heavily on your mind? Give this album a listen. I promise it will make you smile.