“Doing Nilsson” is a classic music trope. Interpreting the real King of Pop, the beloved, bearded Harry Nilsson, is an important step for any artist who wants to advance in his or her songwriting practice. His 15 albums are ripe for interpretation, and the latest artist to jump into the fray is Shawn Rosenblatt, a.k.a. the frequently-touring dynamo Netherfriends. Shawn mixes Nilsson-samples into a whole new arena, specifically on the remix of “Full of It” featuring Show You Suck. On that track, we find Nilsson in the world of hip hop. This leads us to consider the question: who would have been Harry Nilsson's favorite rapper? (The artist, who died in 1994, must have heard of this funky new groove coming out of the locii of urban neighborhoods, but in his later years he played mostly retrospective concerts and spent a lot of time in court dealing with his manager who stole all of his money.) I wonder: would he have liked the truth-talking of El-P? Or would he have been circling the sonic underground with someone like MF Doom? Or would he have stuck to R&B, the traditional style the base of his work, and enjoyed a crooner like Terrence Trent D'Arby? If anyone has a seánce scheduled with Nilsson, could you ask? Now we're really curious. Here's the video for the song, also cut-up from Nilsson animated material:
In any case, Netherfriends Does Nilsson is available free on the artist's Bandcamp, and it's a really fun listen. It's an assembly job, with samples piled on top of each other and vocals “remixed” in a different way by Rosenblatt. For instance, on “Nobody's Talking”, the Nilsson-Neil classic “Everybody's Talkin'” becomes a paranoid story of reflection. “Give UP”, which follows immediately after, pitch shifts Nilsson's arrangements into a folk anthem. The album is a fun reinterpretation of classic work.