Thursday, December 2, 2010

Review: Nelson “Lightning Strikes Twice”

September, 1990. The Cold War officially ends, Bush is about to put Iraq in its place, “Ditto” becomes the response to everyone’s “I love you”, and Nelson’s shimmering song, "(Can't Live Without Your) Love and Affection", from their smash hit album “After The Rain”, was at the top of the Billboard music charts. Now, twenty years later, twins Matthew and Gunnar Nelson are back on the radar, hoping to create another storm with their Frontiers debut, “Lightning Strikes Twice”.

Nelson was by no means a “one-hit wonder” – three other very successful singles from their triple-platinum debut were all over MTV and radio throughout 1990 and 1991. Their follow-up record, 1995’s “Because They Can” was a solid effort, but the Seattle grunge bands had already ushered in a new era. “Because They Can” didn’t stand a chance and the Nelson brothers went into a tailspin and identity crisis, dabbling in darker concept albums (“Imaginator”), country fried rock (“Brother Harmony”), and even covering their famous father’s tunes from the Golden Era of Rock N Roll (“Like Father, Like Sons”).

Thankfully, despite two decades of waiting, Nelson have gone back to their AOR roots and crafted a record that any fan of “After The Rain” is going to love unconditionally. If giving the fans of your first record what they want is the barometer of success, “Lightning Strikes Twice” is a remarkable achievement. Any fan of music should stand in admiration of the magical harmonies Matthew and Gunnar produce, but this time out the twins put that talent to good use in songs that are just dripping with sugary melodies. The song structures resemble everything fans of AOR – past and present – could possibly want. As soon as you hear the ringing guitars and their trademark “whoa-oh oh oh” harmonies on the opener “Call Me”, you know Nelson is going to deliver on their promise. Their first music video in 15 years was filmed to “You’re All I Need Tonight” (see it below), a slice of pure AOR heaven. For you ballad lovers, there is an epic one that would make even Bon Jovi weak in the knees called “To Get Back To You”, which also features AOR master Steve Lukather (Toto) on guitar. The highlights keep coming with superb cuts like “When You’re Gone”, “Take Me There”, and “Change A Thing”.

As the third generation of Nelsons to have #1 hits, the boys do the family proud with this sensational comeback album. 1990 would have been as good to this record as it was to “After The Rain” – maybe even better. Perhaps the winds of musical change will blow once again at the backs of the Nelson twins. As they sang in 1990, “Only time will tell…”

More good news for Nelson fanatics…Frontiers Records will release two more Nelson albums to in Europe on December 3rd: “Before the Rain”, the demo collection of songs that secured their recording deal with Geffen Records in 1990, and “Perfect Storm – After the Rain World Tour 1991”,a live concert album. A North American release will follow in February 2011, as a complement to the release of “Lightning Strikes Twice”.

iPOD-worthy: 1, 2, 5, 6, 7, 8, 11

Nelson on MySpace. Official site. New “kick ass” website.

Check out the video for “You’re All I Need Tonight”