Albums That Live In The Loft – A Little Touch Of Schmilsson In The Night (1973)

Due to my own stupidity and lack of foresight, many years ago I sold a fine hi-fi system in favour of not having anything at all to play music on so convinced was I that in the brave new world of MP3 we would not require a stack of amplifiers and media playing technology we would only need a computer and maybe a small device that held your complete record collection and would slip into a shirt pocket, and in doing so I instantly made my impressive collection of LP’s completely redundant.

So they remain to this day safely packed away in plastic storage boxes and stuffed into the corner of the loft in this here house surviving three house moves at which point the wife always asks, “Do you really need those…” and I always remind her that the terms of the exclusion order specifically state that she is not to be let within ten yards of my album collection after what she did to my singles collection in 1983.

In July 1973, on a Sunday night, the BBC broadcast a documentary on the making of a new album by Harry Nilsson, a collabaration between him and the Gordon Jenkins Orchestra of tunes that had been dug up from an era of big bands and crooners, each one re-orchestrated by Mr Jenkins and his merry bunch of musicians who, according to the documentary love to do nothing more than play their instruments exquisitely and smoke lots of cigarettes and cigars whilst doing so, it was arguably the first such album of a genre of musicians who have raided the songbook of yore in order to fill in a gap year in their career, none have done it quite so well as this one.

I sat there spellbound, the 16 year old me knowing only of Harry Nilsson from his hit single “Without You” and knowing nought of Gordon Jenkins or his orchestra, or any of the tunes therein and I resolved to buy the album that very same week.

So I dashed out to Kennedys and purchased said “A Little Touch of Schmilsson in The Night” and it got played to death for years in our house, it was the first cross-generation LP that ever entered our family, my father liked it as much as I did, probably because he knew all the tunes what with him being a crooner himself, it wold be a bit like my kids bringing an album into our house by some new fangled band, I don’t know, Chardonay and the Fookwits or something, and then me finding they were singing a selection of songs by The Sweet or Slade, I’d sit there alongside my daughters and say “Ah yes, “Gudbye to Jane”, that was a cracker that was”.

The documentary was a full rehearsal of the soon to be album and contains mistakes, fluffs and assorted mishaps, it contains some tracks that never made the eventual album but they were all finally released some years later on “A Touch More Schmilsson In The Night”, at one point they had to break from filming as Nilsson’s throat started bleeding but a packet of cigs and a good slug of bourbon later and they continued – keep an eye on the second violin who never takes his cigar stub from his mouth – those were the days.

So here, courtesy of Youtube, is the full 40 minute documentary, it will not be wasted I promise you.

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