Nelson – (Can’t Live Without Your) Love and Affection

First Hit #1: September 29, 1990

Nelson, apart from being a group that looks most like a pair of Afghan hounds, has made a song that is actually technically interesting without actually being very interesting on its own. The song is just some standard pining for a lovely lady – the cover model of an off-brand Vogue, going by the video – and on first blush it’s actually not much more than a pretty dull power ballad. Then you listen closer, and you notice the often complex guitar interplay, intricate drumming, and the great use of vocal harmonies. This is an ambitious song, as it builds on itself and the different parts interact and combine in unexpected ways. It seems like it should be a really good song, since so much effort was making all the different parts interact and contribute to the whole.

Yet, somehow, it’s not. It’s like the old storefronts for the Best stores. Innovative, technically difficult work done in the service of something that really isn’t all that interesting actually. And just like Best has since gone out of business, Nelson has since disappeared from the musical landscape.

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2 Responses to Nelson – (Can’t Live Without Your) Love and Affection

  1. RBerman says:

    Things in their favor:

    1) Good pedigree. Their grandfather Ozzy and dad Ricky were also both in showbiz, and indeed also had #1 pop hits. This means that the brothers grew up around music, and also that they grew up around industry people. If one was going to choose parents for a celebrity career, theirs would do nicely.

    2) Nice hair. Seriously, most guys who grow long hair are just too lazy to get a haircut. But slovenly long hair just magnifies the slob effect tenfold. It takes a lot of effort to keep long hair clean, untangled, and otherwise presentable. The Nelson brothers make the effort, and if my female relatives are any indication, it paid off for them big time. This makes a sort of Darwinian sense. Maybe a guy who takes immaculate care of his troublesome mane would also take immaculate care of a troublesome mate. Then again, maybe he’s just a narcissist who would spend all his time combing. Still, they Nelsons give off a more reliable longhair vibe than, say, Russell Brand.

    3) They take similar care with their music, buffing melody, harmony, and arrangement to a sheen. No such care is taken to be original; This is one of the many I-V-vi-IV “Don’t Stop Believing” songs in both chorus and verse, and the layered harmonies on “Here she comes…!” closely recalls those same words in The Cars’ song “My Beset Friend’s Girl.” But the pop charts have never considered originality an end in itself; it only counts when done pleasingly, and these guys manage “pleasing” without needing to darken the doorway of “original.”

  2. Pingback: Boyz II Men – End of the Road | We Are Number Ones

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