New York, NY (Top40 Charts)
Well blow me down! Varèse Sarabande will release the most comprehensive version of the Popeye soundtrack ever assembled, featuring the film's beloved songs by Harry Nilsson, performed by the cast (including Robin
Williams, Shelly Duvall, and Ray Walston), never-before released original score composed by Thomas
Pierson, and an entire disc of demos performed by Harry Nilsson. The POPEYE - Deluxe
From the Motion Picture, which also includes newly-discovered images and extensive liner notes, will be released digitally and on CD on September
Looking for the father (Ray Walston) who deserted him as a baby, a sailor named Popeye (Robin Williams) journeys to the port town of Sweethaven. Popeye befriends an assortment of eccentrics and falls in love with Olive Oyl (Shelley Duvall), who already has a suitor, the bully Bluto (Paul L. Smith). Popeye also discovers an abandoned baby, Swee'Pea, whom he raises as his own. But when the spurned Bluto kidnaps Olive and the child, Popeye takes action, with the help of his magic spinach….
A rare co-production between Paramount Pictures
and Walt Disney Productions - the 1980 film POPEYE was a live-action musical version of E.C. Segar's classic comic strip, directed by Robert Altman and produced by Robert Evans. The idea was first presented to him by Evans during a party at the producer's home in mid-1977. Nilsson's initial response, "We shared two or three vodkas, and then I told him I didn't think it was such a good idea to do POPEYE."
Eventually though he came on board - though the team at Paramount still needed convincing. In May 1979 Nilsson was given three weeks to write three songs for the film. He would present home demos for the tracks "He Needs Me," "I'm Mean," "Swee'Pea's Lullaby," amongst other.
"I think Harry liked the working class aspect of it - Popeye, the Man in Crisis," Van Dyke Parks, who starred as Hoagy the Piano Player and arranged/conducted the music, said of Nilsson's involvement in the film. "[Director Robert] Altman gave Harry an incredible carte blanche for the music, and that was wonderful. Altman and Harry shared a lot of things, for example, a deep understanding about the abstraction of the creative process, understanding that a concept might be revealed, rather than planned. Both had that skill, that extemporaneous air."
The songs written by Nilsson were recorded on location in Malta, with Parks being charged to "sweeten" the score in Los Angeles. But a musician's strike would lead to a change in tactics, with composer Thomas
Pierson being brought on board and the recording moved to London. "They needed somebody to bring things to a conclusion," Pierson explained. "And they wanted to use a lot of the traditional Popeye/nautical sort of themes, and they basically didn't have any of that."
For the first time available digitally and on CD, Varèse Sarabande has compiled the original soundtrack recordings, original score by Pierson, and the demo recordings performed by Harry Nilsson
for the PopeyE - Deluxe
from the Motion Picture two-disc set.
Sweethaven - Performed by The Citizens of Sweet Haven)
Blow Me Down - Performed by Robin
Williams as Popeye
Is Food - Performed by Paul Dooley as Wimpy, Allan F. Nichols as Roughhouse, The Toughs, Barbershop and The Steinettes
Rough House Fight* - Composed by Thomas
He's Large - Performed by Shelley
Duvall as Olive Oyl
I'm Mean - Performed by Paul L. Smith as Bluto
Sailin' - Performed by Shelley
Duvall as Olive Oyl and Robin
Williams as Popeye
March Through Town* - Composed by Thomas
I Yam What I Yam - Performed by Robin
Williams as Popeye
The Grand Finale* - Composed by Thomas
He Needs Me - Performed by Shelley
Duvall as Olive Oyl
Swee'Pea's Lullaby - Performed by Robin
Williams as Popeye
Din' We ** - Performed by Robert Fortier as Bill Barnacle - the Town Drunk
It's Not Easy Being Me - Performed by Ray Walston as Poopdeck Pappy
Kids - Performed by Ray Walston as Poopdeck Pappy
Skeleton Cave* - Composed by Thomas
Now Listen Kid/To The Rescue/Mr. Eye Is Trapped/Back Into Action* - Composed by Thomas
Saved/Still At It/The Treasure/What? More Fighting/Pap's Boy/Olive & The Octopus/What's Up Pop/Popeye Triumphant* - Composed by Thomas
I'm Popeye The Sailor Man - Performed by Robin
Williams as Popeye, Written by Sammy Lemer
End Title Medley* - Composed by Harry Nilsson
* Not included on the original soundtrack album
CD 2 (The Harry Nilsson
Blow Me Down
He Needs Me
Everybody's Got To Eat**
Sail With Me
I Yam What I Yam
It's Not Easy Being Me
I'm Popeye The Sailor Man
I'm Mean - Harry Nilsson
with Paul L. Smith
He Needs Me - Shelly Duvall audition Harry Nilsson
Everybody's Got To Eat** - performed by Paul Dooley (Bonus Track)
Din We** (Bonus Track)
I'd Rather Be Me**
** Track or song not included in the film
ABOUT HARRY NILSSON
Grammy Award-winner Harry Nilsson, hailed as a genius and recognized by his peers as one of the greatest singer-songwriters of the twentieth century, began life humbly in Brooklyn, New York, June 15 1941. Abandoned by his father (his mother said he had been killed in the war - a story Harry found out many years later was untrue), Harry, along with his mother and half-sister, moved to Southern California. The ensuing years found him uprooted again, bouncing from relative to relative and place to place, finally returning to Los Angeles - this time to stay.
Back in L.A. and having grown tired of school, Nilsson dropped out and took a job at the Paramount Theater, where he eventually worked his way up to assistant manager. Until it closed in 1960, the Paramount was reputed to be the fourth largest theater in the world and featured live rock and roll shows. During his Paramount years, Nilsson was able to learn piano chords from the musicians who performed there, and soon became a skilled pianist himself. After the Paramount closed, Nilsson started writing songs and singing demos while working in the computer department of a bank. His hard work over the next several years finally paid off when, in 1967, he landed a recording contract with RCA Victor. Soon after, they released Pandemonium Shadow Show, the first of more than a dozen albums he would record for that label.
Early in his recording career, Harry's music was discovered by the Beatles, who were then at their peak, and became his biggest fans. It has since become etched in rock and roll history how - at a huge press conference in New York City to announce the launch of Apple Records - John Lennon
announced to the world that Nilsson was his favorite "group!" Later during that same New York visit, he also enthusiastically declared "Nilsson for President!" Ringo Starr, who later became best friends with Harry, at one time proclaimed Nilsson had "the greatest voice on planet Earth!" Paul McCartney
Harrison were fans and good pals as well.
The mutual admiration between Harry and the Fab Four quickly evolved into what would become close and long-lasting personal friendships with each of them. After the Beatles
broke up, his escapades with John Lennon
during the mid '70s became the stuff of legend. And it was Ringo Starr who served as best man at his marriage to Una, the mother of Beau, Ben, Annie, Olivia, Kief and Oscar, six of his seven children (Zak, the eldest, was born of a previous marriage).
As album after album was released, Nilsson was praised by the critics, not only for his own songs but also for his remarkable performances of those written by others. Two of his biggest hits ("Everybody's Talkin'" and "Without You
") fall into the latter category, and he won Grammys for both of them. Other artists also recognized Nilsson's songwriting talents, and his songs were (and still are) recorded by many top performers, from Joe Cocker
and Neil Diamond
to Diana Ross
and Barbra Streisand, Ella Fitzgerald
and Johnny Mathis
to Glen Campbell
and Brian Wilson, as well as many others. Three Dog Night's recording of Nilsson's "One" became their breakthrough hit and first Gold Record, and Harry's "Cuddly Toy" was a hit for the Monkees.
Nilsson's voice and songs have also been featured in countless films and television shows. The Tom Hanks/Meg Ryan hit, You've Got Mail, featured five of Nilsson's songs and performances (one of them, "I Guess the Lord Must Be in New York City," was performed twice: first by Harry during the film and then by Sinead O'Connor
in the closing credits!). And there are films like Midnight Cowboy, Forrest Gump, Practical Magic, Casino, All That Jazz, Contact, The Ice Storm, GoodFellas, Skidoo, The Craft, Reservoir Dogs, A Good Year, Crank, Bottle Shock, Confessions of a Shopaholic, Popeye and many more. Nilsson also wrote the story and songs and did all the singing in the unforgettable animated ABC television movie The Point, which was narrated by Dustin
Hoffman, and then by Ringo Starr in the video release. The television shows and TV movies that have utilized Harry's songs and performances are far too numerous to even begin to describe.
As both a songwriter and singer, Nilsson was somewhat of an enigma. His songs embraced such a wide variety of themes and musical styles that there is no way to easily categorize them. And though his voice is known worldwide, he never toured and rarely performed in public, having preferred to work almost exclusively in the studio.
Nilsson's genius and creativity were cut short January 15, 1994, when at the age of 52, he died quietly in his sleep at his home in Agoura Hills, California. Although Harry Nilsson
is gone, he is anything but forgotten, with his phenomenal musical legacy continuing to delight, move and entertain millions of people around the world every day.
Lee Blackman, May 2013 from www.harrynilsson.com