Aldo Nova – Twitch (1985)
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All right, enough screwing around — time to set the controls for the heart of the cutout bin! We’re heading into Aldo Nova territory!

My first exposure to the man his parents named Aldo Caporuscio came during the late ’80s; I was just a little too young for his days as an AOR god (those days, for the record, were during 1982), but we had a family friend who was deep into FM rock, and his LP collection made for a terrific gateway into the world of bands like Prism, Touch, HSAS (a prize goes to the first rock nerd who says what those initials stood for):and Aldo Nova.

For quite awhile, I wasn’t sure what to make of Aldo Nova. Literally. Looking at the cover of 1983’s concept album, Subject: Aldo Nova, was a source of endless intrigue and confusion. Was “Aldo Nova” the name of a man or a woman? A solo artist or a band? All of the above? Or was the band’s name Subject, and the album’s title Aldo Nova?

Of course, as I’ve already revealed, Aldo Nova is a man, and (despite all the things I’m about to say) an extremely talented one at that; his double-platinum debut, 1982’s Aldo Nova, was largely — if not entirely — written, played, and performed by Aldo himself.

(I believe I may have just set the world record for the number of times anyone has ever used “Aldo” in one sentence.)

As you either remember or are beginning to understand, Aldo was a big deal, once upon a time. He was a Portrait Records artist, back when Portrait was something more than a logo being co-opted by John Kalodner • John Kalodner as a distribution pipeline for new Cinderella records. He had a few hit singles on rock radio, but he made the classic mistake of releasing a concept album (the aforementioned Subject: Aldo Nova) as his follow-up, and the result was 1985’s Whiff Twitch.

Aldo’s label, you see, wanted to make sure he didn’t repeat the mistakes of his second album, so they fell back on the favorite plan of labels everywhere: They made him bring in outside writers, thus ensuring that Twitch would be an album of all-new mistakes.

Nova still co-wrote the bulk of the record, as well as producing it, so the bulk of the blame for Twitch is on his shoulders, but seeing as how his earlier albums had a little personality, it’s hard not to believe this one wouldn’t have been better if the boardroom had stayed out of it. Nothing here is outright awful, but for an artist believed by many to be a melodic rock pioneer (whatever that means), the songs are depressingly bland. The usual ’80s studio ringers are on board — The Bolton on background vocals (I think that’s him on “Lay Your Love on Me” [download]), Anton Fig on drums, Robbie Kilgore on synths — and it’s got the usual ’80s sound; there isn’t a track on the album that isn’t begging, even 20-odd years later, to be used as the soundtrack to a montage in a teen summer comedy. I can only think that Savage Steve Holland somehow didn’t hear Twitch.

(And while we’re on the subject of the ’80s and all its wonderful clichés, how many records released during the decade contained songs called “Surrender Your Heart” [download], “Long Hot Summer” [download], “If Looks Could Kill” [download], and especially “Fallen Angel” [download]?)

Poor Aldo Nova. Despite Portrait’s meddling, Twitch crashed and burned on the charts, and the world wouldn’t get another album out of him until 1991, when Jon Bon Jovi plucked him off the ash heap for Blood on the Bricks, one of the inaugural releases from Jon Bon’s short-lived Jambco label. After Bricks stiffed, Aldo retreated from recording almost completely; although he released something called Nova’s Dream awhile back, his main focus has been on producing and writing for others. And by “others” I mean “artists including Clay Aiken.”

Twitch, indeed.