Thursday, September 14, 2006

Lost Classics: Nelson

The Timotei Twins Strike Again!


Nelson, After the Rain (Geffen, 1990)

The Big Idea: The spawn of a late teen pop star churn out fluffy pop metal

Choice Cuts: "(Can't Live Without Your) Love and Affection," "After the Rain" and "Tracy's Song/Only Time Will Tell"

Sonic Brethren: Winger, Bon Jovi, Slaughter

First off, let me say that I know this is a much maligned album. However, I believe it's one of the stronger efforts in the commercial metal genre. If you like your metal with pop hooks, Nelson are a sure bet. Consider the band's pedigree for a moment. As the twin sons of '50s teen star Ricky Nelson, singer/bassist Matthew and singer/guitarist Gunnar had ample opportunity to study up on pop songwriting from their father's catalog of hits, which included "Travelin' Man," "Poor Little Fool," "Garden Party" and more.

But while their old man's connections may have helped them secure a record deal, Matthew and Gunnar's music succeeded on much more than nepotism alone. The material on their After the Rain debut married a strong Top 40 vocal presence with pop-metal production values and blazing guitar solos courtesy of Bret Garsed. And let's not forget the role their image played in their initial success -- those boyish faces framed by straight blonde hair earned them the nickname the Timotei Twins in the European press (after a popular Swedish shampoo that featured a female look-alike in its commercials).

The band's first single, "(Can't Live Without Your) Love and Affection," builds from a beautiful acoustic guitar pattern topped by the brothers' mellifluous vocals into a pop confection with sugary hooks. I'd say 'saccharine hooks,' but the connotation is disingenuous. Call me a fool, but I find Nelson believable when they perform their songs. This tune, which topped the Billboard Hot 100 chart in 1990, is said to have been developed from a riff Matthew came up with while looking at a photo of Cindy Crawford in Vogue magazine.

Meanwhile, the disc's title track benefits from sparkling keyboard flourishes courtesy of piano man Paul Mirkovich, additional vocal and instrumental expertise from six-stringer Joey Cathcart and a rock steady groove laid down by ex-Vinnie Vincent Invasion drummer Bobby Rock. While "After the Rain" is a mid-tempo rocker, "Only Time Will Tell" is a true power ballad in every way: Mirkovich dominates with a piano-based arrangement; the hook kicks in with a swooning string section; and the tune is even preceded by a classical guitar intro titled "Tracy's Song" in honor of Matthew and Gunnar's sister Tracy. Need a quick primer on every glib power ballad cliché in the book? Look no further than "Only Time Will Tell." But that's precisely why we love the Timotei Twins -- they give their fans what they want.

I believe Nelson fans suffer from the same affliction that strikes Spice Girls or New Kids on the Block lovers: Though these are all multiplatinum acts, you can't find a single person who'll fess up to having bought a copy. Well, I'm proudly announcing myself as a Nelson fan and consumer, albeit 16 years too late. (Though I would never pay full price. I found After the Rain used for $1 at a local record shop!)

6 comments:

Bruce said...

I actually like the song After the Rain; it just has a nice sound to it. After I read Paul Mirkovich's name, I recognized it, but couldn't remember from where. Turns out, he was the leader of the house band on Rockstar: Supernova.

Metal Mark said...

I remember their singles as being a little sappy. I never heard the whole album.

David Amulet said...

Nelson did have a solid backing band, that's for sure. I preferred Slaughter--I'm not sure why, but I just found that better music to listen to.

-- david

Rhodeislandrock said...

I admit to liking their singles back in the day and buying the cassette also. The girls really dug Nelson and if you had that tape in the car.....well, it helped. I replaced my cassette with a used CD years ago, about $5.

I listened to this recently and it was OK. The singles are what make the album or maybe that's because they were played to death on radio and MTV back then. I'd say it's a good album of Pop Hard Rock.

Anonymous said...

I'm sorry, but Nelson were the most sickengly candyassed band to emerge from the late 80's. They made the Sleeze Beez sound like King Diamond!

Anonymous said...

Matthew and Gunnar didn't get the Deal by being Ricky's Boys,they went in with their Guitars and very hungry bellies and won John over by showing in person what they could do,before that Day,John didn't think they were worth It and he and other Record Execs gave them nothing,no special treatments at all!!

Sheer Talent won John over 'cause theyhad the balls to just walk in there and do It!!
That made him change his mind and give them the Contract,even If later that same deal put the boys in Heavy debt that they paid back in 1998 !!

The Brothers still Tour and have other Bands too,like Matt has Red37 while Gunnar has Scrap Metal Band an '80'S MUSIC Band!
They can Write Songs and Sing and You know that they can Play the Music!

Yeah I'm a Fan and I have the CD'S!!

I'm carol (montana_nights)
an up and coming Lyric and Poem Writer!