You know, the twin nephews of Andy Williams? The ones who had a career as mop-topped child stars before moving on to the hired guitar-slinger life, backing up a bunch of cool early-’80s almost-weres like The Plimsouls and The Cruzados, and then finally returning to the recording studio for a trio of well-received grown-up rock records.
This here is the first of the three, and since it sounds nothing at all like the two that followed it â€” not to mention the fact that it’s been out of print forever â€” Two Stories will be our first Williams Brothers edition of Cutouts Gone Wild!
If you’ve heard any of their music, you’ve probably heard “Can’t Cry Hard Enough,” the hitlet from their 1991 self-titled release; they performed it on The Tonight Show, it kind of burbled around the charts for a few weeks, and it’s been covered every few years since then. It’s a lovely, perfect pop ballad, all acoustic guitars and mournful strings, high harmonies and heart-breaking yearning.
Two Stories, on the other hand, is a product of the Big ’80s: fat, shiny guitars; gated drums; walls ‘n walls o’ vocals. Not to mention production from Mike Campbell, Chuck Plotkin, and Patrick Leonard.
Not to mention songs from Tom Petty (“Keeping Me Alive” [download]), Campbell and Stevie Nicks (“You Like Me”), and Bob Dylan (“Straight A’s in Love” [download]) â€” plus co-writes with Peter Case (“Inch By Inch” [download]), Marvin Etzioni (“All Pumped Up”), and Jules Shear (“Rain Came Down” [download]).
(And after all that, for my money, the record’s best song is the Williams/Williams composition “How Long” [download].)
So how come the thing was such a dud once it came out? Beats me. Two Stories sounds like what it was: A perfectly glossy record for a perfectly glossy year. That their later, more overtly folkish stuff should fall through the cracks makes a certain amount of sense; the market for sad music from guys with guitars is always a fickle one, and in the early ’90s, it was at a definite low point.
But c’mon â€” 1987? Blond twins? Shit. These guys should have beaten Gunnar and Matthew Nelson to the punch by a good three years.