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The Nylons

Lost and Found (1999)

3.4

March 30, 2000

Tuning / Blend 3.6
Energy / Intensity 4.2
Innovation / Creativity 4.0
Soloists 3.6
Sound / Production 3.6
Repeat Listenability 2.8
Tracks
1 If You Don't Know Me By Now 3.4
2 Number One 3.6
3 Comfort and Joy 3.2
4 You're Moving Out Today 4.0
5 The Human Family 3.2
6 Prince of Darkness 3.8
7 Kiss Him Goodbye (Dance Mix) 2.4
8 We Have Your Daughter 4.0
9 Scandalize My Name 3.2
10 Bang! You're Dead 3.6
11 Kiss Him Goodbye 4.6
12 Grown Man Cry 3.4
13 Monkey 4.6
14 Fire 3.2

Recorded 1990 – 1997
Total time: 54:58, 14 songs


Tuning / Blend 4
Energy / Intensity 3
Innovation / Creativity 3
Soloists 3
Sound / Production 3
Repeat Listenability 3
Tracks
1 If You Don't Know Me By Now 3
2 Number One 3
3 Comfort and Joy 2
4 You're Moving Out Today 4
5 The Human Family 3
6 Prince of Darkness 3
7 Kiss Him Goodbye (Dance Mix) 1
8 We Have Your Daughter 4
9 Scandalize My Name 2
10 Bang! You're Dead 3
11 Kiss Him Goodbye 4
12 Grown Man Cry 3
13 Monkey 4
14 Fire 3

Lost & Found is not a great album. But if you're a Nylons fan you're going to buy it anyway. And you should. You really, really should.

First things first, I should come right out and say I'm not a big fan of The Nylons. Sure Up on the Roof and Up the Ladder to the Roof are great, and Somethin' Bout Cha kicks butt. However, on the whole, the Nylons sound — particularly the drum machines — bug me. It's not just that the drums sound stiff and, although that's certainly part of problem. The real problem is that they use the drum machines as a crutch. Often the arrangements are too simple because they depend on the drums to provide all the rhythmic excitement. Take away the drums and you have an empty arrangement. (To my ears, it sounds pretty empty with the drums, too.)

Why is this album different from all other Nylons albums? Why am I encouraging Nylons fans to grab a copy ASAP? Because it's a interesting collection of rarities that I'm sure won't disappoint the loyal followers. While most Nylons albums are marked by the monotonous beat of the drum machine, this album jumps about wildly. It's eager to excite you. There's a real variety in the selections: Drum machines, no drum machines, vocal percussion, instruments, no instruments, a dance mix, live cuts, demos, comedy, gospel, guest vocalists. Is that enough variety for you?

It doesn't all work well — Scandalize My Name is much too passionless for a gospel song and the dance mix of Kiss Him Goodbye is amateurish and half baked (which is a shame — a good DJ could have had a blast with some of the samples from the original Nylon's recording). Yet as whole, the songs still create an interesting collage despite the bad elements. And there are some nice songs in the mix. I enjoyed the off the cuff humor of You're Moving Out Today (especially the spoken introduction) and the surprising black comedy of We Have Your Daughter. The Nylons actually just provide the backing vocals for Seiko Matsuda on Number One. I hate we-are-the-world numbers and The Human Family is certainly one of them, but it's kind of entertaining as an obscure example of the genre (and, to it's credit, it actually features a surprisingly in-your-face line or two). Kiss Him Goodbye (in a rather clean "raw" mix) is as enjoyable as ever. Best of all, Monkey sounds great with Jeff Thatcher sitting in on vocal production. I say "best of all" because it suggest that there's something to look forward to (the vocal-percussion edition of Fabric of Life).

Again, this is an album targeted at Nylons' fans. It hits its mark dead on.


Tuning / Blend 4
Energy / Intensity 5
Innovation / Creativity 5
Soloists 4
Sound / Production 4
Repeat Listenability 3
Tracks
1 If You Don't Know Me By Now 4
2 Number One 4
3 Comfort and Joy 5
4 You're Moving Out Today 3
5 The Human Family 3
6 Prince of Darkness 4
7 Kiss Him Goodbye (Dance Mix) 3
8 We Have Your Daughter 4
9 Scandalize My Name 4
10 Bang! You're Dead 4
11 Kiss Him Goodbye 5
12 Grown Man Cry 3
13 Monkey 5
14 Fire 3

Lost and Found is an album of Nylons rarities and various forgotten tracks. For someone looking for an overview of what the Nylons are all about, this may or may not be what you're looking for. It has a few instantly recognizable favorites: Kiss Him Goodbye (two versions!), Prince of Darkness, and covers of George Michael's Monkey and Bruce Springsteen's Fire — overall the album spans the Nylons' 20-year career. There's everything from essentially acoustic live tracks (Fire, You're Moving Out Today, Scandalize My Name) to a dance remix of Kiss Him Goodbye and a somewhat surreal collaboration with a major Japanese pop recording artist (Number One).

Because the album is made up of rarities and, well, "lost and found" tracks, it doesn't really fit together as a cohesive whole. There are some whiplash-inducing transitions from track to track — the bitter break-up song You're Moving Out Today is immediately followed by The Human Family, a We Are the World-ish track originally recorded to benefit AIDS-related causes. Several tracks give the listener the chance to try their own hand at singing lead with the Nylons — Comfort and Joy and Grown Man Cry both leave out the lead vocal track, and there's plenty of room for experimentation with the Kiss Him Goodbye dance mix, which (like all dance mixes, it seems) leaves out most of the lead vocal as well.

There are some fun moments here — the Japanese track Number One is surprisingly catchy (considering that nearly all of the lyrics are in Japanese), Comfort and Joy stands on its own as a vocal "instrumental" track, before it breaks into the chorus of God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen toward the end, and I dare you to keep from singing along with the non-dance version of Kiss Him Goodbye or Monkey. I wish the liner notes were more detailed — there's a brief explanation for each song, but a project like this deserves a little bit more, especially for those who don't have as much background with the Nylons.

If you're a Nylons completist or a big fan who wants to see what else they've been up to over the last 20 years, this album is for you. If you're new to the Nylons (or at least to their albums), you might want to look at another of their CDs first, since the tracks on this disc were never originally meant to fit together as an album (or in many cases, appear on an album at all). But if you have an interest in hearing a vocal history of one of the major groups of contemporary a cappella, including some trips down their less-well-known paths, this is a pretty good example.


Tuning / Blend 4
Energy / Intensity 5
Innovation / Creativity 4
Soloists 3
Sound / Production 4
Repeat Listenability 3
Tracks
1 If You Don't Know Me By Now 4
2 Number One 4
3 Comfort and Joy 3
4 You're Moving Out Today 4
5 The Human Family 3
6 Prince of Darkness 5
7 Kiss Him Goodbye (Dance Mix) 4
8 We Have Your Daughter 4
9 Scandalize My Name 4
10 Bang! You're Dead 4
11 Kiss Him Goodbye 5
12 Grown Man Cry 4
13 Monkey 5
14 Fire 3

OK, its time for everyone to be honest. Everyone likes The Nylons at some level. It's kind of hard to not like them. I used to say for years that I did not like The Nylons, but it is not totally true. I don't dislike them, and I would not groan or complain if someone were to play some of their albums at a party. Hey, they are the fathers of modern a cappella as we know it today. They brought a cappella closer to the mainstream than any group out there, and a full decade before any canned pop pseudo-a cappella group could think about it. Forget groups like 'N Sync or The Backstreet Boys. They are a bunch of pretty-boy-hip-hop-bee-bop-teen-pop pretenders to the throne. The Nylons made it possible for groups like that to flourish today, and they are still kickin' it in their own inimitable style.

This album, Lost and Found, is a fun album full of pieces and parts from the past 20 years of Nylons history. Specifically, this album is made up of stuff that never made it to an album, or at least not in North America. There is a recording of a rehearsal of Bang! You're Dead that sure sounds good. There is a song called Number One that they sang backgrounds on for a Japanese pop music artist named Seiko Matsuda. There are a couple of "blank" songs that you can sing along with karaoke with your friends. There is two different versions of Kiss Him Goodbye: a dance mix, and a good "raw" version that just bubbles with energy. They even kick out a cool remix version of George Michael's "Monkey" with Jeff Thatcher doing the vocal percussion. Yes, Jeff from Rockapella, one of the very best in the business.

The recording quality varies a little bit, but that is part of the nature of this kind of collection. There are 20 year old live recordings, there is a rehearsal track. But hey, there is no problem here, things sound fine. This album will be a fun addition to any Nylons fan's collection. Really... even the closet ones.


Tuning / Blend 3
Energy / Intensity 3
Innovation / Creativity 4
Soloists 4
Sound / Production 3
Repeat Listenability 2
Tracks
1 If You Don't Know Me By Now 2
2 Number One 4
3 Comfort and Joy 4
4 You're Moving Out Today 4
5 The Human Family 4
6 Prince of Darkness 3
7 Kiss Him Goodbye (Dance Mix) 3
8 We Have Your Daughter 3
9 Scandalize My Name 3
10 Bang! You're Dead 3
11 Kiss Him Goodbye 4
12 Grown Man Cry 3
13 Monkey 4
14 Fire 4

Lost and Found is for true Nylons fans. The cuts that didn't make it. The early recordings. The live moment captured. Claude Morrison says it best in the liner notes: "the sound quality may be superceded by [the material's] interest value.". It's a little like rumaging through the a cappella attic; you never know what gems you might find. You'll find everything from dance remixes (Kiss Him Goodbye) to anthem pop (The Human Family) to outright silliness (You're Moving Out Today). It's as eclectic a CD as I've heard, but that just increases your chances of finding something you love.

Nylons fans know to expect a healthy dose of heavy-handed electronic enhancements. Drum machine is prevalent. Synth bass shows up now and then. But unlike the average Nylons CD, this recording is full of guest artists too: Seiko Matsuda, Japanese recording artist (in Japanese, no less!), Shania Twain, and even the Rockapella's own vocal percussionist extraordinaire, Jeff Thatcher.

Most of these tracks were recorded in the eighties and early nineties. That gives the recording a very dated sound. You have to just embrace the genre. It'll actually make a nice addition to your '80s party mix.

The Nylons are an institution in a cappella. They have an energy that has earned them decades of fans. If you're looking for another glimpse into the group and its history, this is your chance. If you are an a cappella "purist", or if some of the more traditional elements of musicality (intonation, blend, etc...) place first for you, then perhaps you should stay with Four on the Floor.


Tuning / Blend 3
Energy / Intensity 5
Innovation / Creativity 4
Soloists 4
Sound / Production 4
Repeat Listenability 3
Tracks
1 If You Don't Know Me By Now 4
2 Number One 3
3 Comfort and Joy 2
4 You're Moving Out Today 5
5 The Human Family 3
6 Prince of Darkness 4
7 Kiss Him Goodbye (Dance Mix) 1
8 We Have Your Daughter 5
9 Scandalize My Name 3
10 Bang! You're Dead 4
11 Kiss Him Goodbye 5
12 Grown Man Cry 4
13 Monkey 5
14 Fire 3

I could easily appropriate the title of The Nylons' latest release to describe my own experience with the legendary group — my a cappella education began with The Nylons and their timeless renditions of Silhouettes, Up The Ladder to the Roof, This Island Earth, and Kiss Him Goodbye. It's been years since I've listened to their music (notwithstanding an unmemorable Summit appearance where my friend tried to get the phone number of one of the newer members of the group). To listen to The Nylons again is at once exhilarating and bewildering.

I'll explain.

The album's tracklist, like its namesake, is made up of a hodge-podge of different elements: newer recordings mingle with unreleased cuts, accompanied dance mixes vie with a cappella tracks, and highly-produced songs clash with hilarious live takes. For the most part, I find myself enjoying the rollercoaster ride, but after a while, I long for some consistency. The rough but emotional feel of the opening track contrasts against David Foster-produced Number One (sung by Japanese popstar Seiko Matsuda — in Japanese!). There are two tracks that are presented "karaoke"-style, allowing the listener to sing-along with The Nylons' backing vocals. While this format really doesn't work for Comfort and Joy, where the background vocals are sparse and the instrumentation cheesy, it makes for a strangely beautiful listen in Grown Man Cry. I also enjoyed the live tracks where The Nylons' personality could shine (You're Moving Out Today, Bang! You're Dead, Fire).

However, the quality of these recordings varied from finely-tuned and energetic (Monkey, Kiss Him Goodbye) to vaguely off (Scandalize My Name, Fire) and even repetitiously boring (Kiss Him Goodbye Dance Mix). Even the liner notes lacked consistency: where some offered background information on the track, some gave arrangement credits and others the producing credits, and still others listed the recording date. It would have been great if The Nylons (or their graphics designer/album producer) had presented some uniformity of content so that each song could be comparatively backgrounded.

I did like the energy and intensity The Nylons continue to display, as well as their innovative and sometimes even funny arrangements. When all is said and done, this album is informative and very interesting, especially if you're a big Nylons fan. Listening to Lost and Found is like getting a special look at the development of a real group of musicians who are ever-evolving and continually seeking new ways to entertain.


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Ordering Information

Available from Mainely A Cappella
www.a-cappella.com
1-800-827-2936 (North America)
207-244-7603 (Overseas)

PO Box 159
Southwest Harbor, ME 04679

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