The Nylons


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The Nylons' performing career began in 1980 at a time when a cappella outfits were not in vogue. The fact that the Nylons were unlike any a cappella act on the scene made them stand out and earned them accolades and a devoted audience almost immediately. The band has existed in one form or another for more than 25 years, but it is the original quartet of Claude Morrison, Arnold Robinson, Paul Cooper, and Marc Connors that created their most beloved recordings. Rockapella, their fifth album (and final release by the original quartet) is a real mixed bag. By no means is it a bad album, but it sounds like the boys gave in to their record company's demands to make a commercial album and, because they attempted to make a contemporary album for 1989, it's over-produced and now sounds dated and of its time. It's a shame, really, because the Nylons' performances on this album sound spirited and electrified. The arrangement of "Drift Away" is almost embarrassing as it attempts to update their sound and add a silly intro that sounds more like Run-D.M.C. (sans the rapping). For a moment, "Love This Is Love" sounds like a distant cousin of Baltimora's "Tarzan Boy," which doesn't ruin the track but doesn't do it any favors, either. On paper, "Poison Ivy" sounds like it would be a perfect cover for the quartet, but it comes off as forced and ends up sitting there and twitching for three and a half minutes (that is, if you can last that long). Apart from those missteps, the rest of the album is smooth sailing. "(All I Have to Do Is) Dream" features a gorgeous, simple arrangement and is one of their best covers. "Busy Tonight" is a flawless Nylons gem with Connors' sweet vocals sounding as angelic as ever. "Wildfire" is another tour de force for Connors, but the sampled vocals and production suck a little life out of the song (which can also be said of "Count My Blessings" and the cover of the Parachute Club's "Rise Up"). "Another Night Like This" is also a gem, with Cooper's impassioned vocals leading the way. Though the album was produced over a longer period of time than their previous albums, it suffers by the reasons stated above, which is quite sad since it will remain the original quartet's swan song. Cooper, exhausted by the band's hectic schedule and unhappy with their move away from simpler arrangements, left the band shortly after the album's release. Tragically, Marc Connors, one of the finest voices of his generation, passed away due to complications from AIDS within a year of the album's release. The Nylons' finest era was over.

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