Dwight Twilley Band: Classic or Dud?

Message Bookmarked
Bookmark Removed
I'm actually a little shocked we ILM-ers haven't done these fellas yet — of course, they're everybody's favorite redheaded stepgenre: power pop. But damn if they weren't brilliant — hookier than Big Star, sweeter than The Raspberries and less portentious than Badfinger (all whom I love dearly). All shot through that Sun Records slapback.

I say MONSTROUSLY underrated classic.

Naive Teen Idol (Naive Teen Idol), Wednesday, 10 November 2004 22:55 (seventeen years ago) link

Are rock critics the only people who listen to Dwight Twilley Band records? And Shoes records?

scott seward (scott seward), Wednesday, 10 November 2004 23:00 (seventeen years ago) link

You should talk to my pal David Snyder in Philly. He used to put out The Bob magazine. He'll talk yer ear off about Dwight Twilley. He's a power-pop machine!

scott seward (scott seward), Wednesday, 10 November 2004 23:02 (seventeen years ago) link

Here is david's pazz & jop ballot from 2003:

1 Blondes Swedish Heat Teenacide 10
2 Crooked Fingers Red Devil Dawn Merge 10
3 Damone From the Attic RCA 10
4 Driving Stupid Horror Asparagus Stories Sundazed 10
5 Exploding Hearts Guitar Romantic Dirtnap 10
6 Fevers Gaan Daar Waar De Meisjes Alien Snatch 10
7 Five Americans The Best of the Five Americans Sundazed 10
8 Knockout Pills Knockout Pills Dead Beat 10
9 Singles Better Than Before Rainbow Quartz 10
10 Ritchies Forever and Today Popboomerang 10

scott seward (scott seward), Wednesday, 10 November 2004 23:06 (seventeen years ago) link

Oh, but anyway, not classic and not dud!

scott seward (scott seward), Wednesday, 10 November 2004 23:07 (seventeen years ago) link

Dud. I love power-pop, but I just don't see how these guys are notable at all.

Brevity, Thursday, 11 November 2004 03:00 (seventeen years ago) link

Matt, I own a couple Twilley albums, but c'mon, they had one great single compared the Raspberries' six or seven.

That said, the first Phil Seymour album is worth picking up if you like the first two Twilley records.

Jeff Wright (JeffW1858), Thursday, 11 November 2004 03:37 (seventeen years ago) link

Wow, this is seriously no love for Twilley. See, the thing I think that buries them is that Sincerely, their famously-ignored debut, isn't their best record -- the follow-up, (and somewhat retardedly titled) Twilley Don't Mind, is. The former has "I'm On Fire", but in truth, it's the third of fourth best cut on it -- for the unconvinced, I suggest "You Were So Warm", "I'm Losing You" or the proto-Cramps of "TV". By contrast, Twilley Don't Mind is seriously classic throughout -- it's among of the best power pop records of the 70s. Even the comp The Great Lost Twilley Album is loaded with tunes -- some featuring the harmony of Susan Cowsill(!!).

And Jeff, I think you're letting your Cleveland bias shine through.

Naive Teen Idol (Naive Teen Idol), Thursday, 11 November 2004 05:22 (seventeen years ago) link

Come on, people -- Twilley deserves more love than this!

Naive Teen Idol (Naive Teen Idol), Friday, 12 November 2004 06:48 (seventeen years ago) link

two years pass...

I'm shocked that ILM has so little to say about these guys, who were easily the equal to Big Star...

Naive Teen Idol, Wednesday, 26 September 2007 04:56 (fourteen years ago) link

Nah, they weren't nearly as wigged-out as Big Star. But I do love Sincerely.

If Timi Yuro would be still alive, most other singers could shut up, Wednesday, 26 September 2007 07:09 (fourteen years ago) link

i have twilley don't mind and my reaction to it is about the same as to shoes: mild enjoyment, coupled with puzzlement over its cult-classic status.

tipsy mothra, Wednesday, 26 September 2007 16:00 (fourteen years ago) link

"I'm On Fire" is an AMAZING song.

Mr. Snrub, Wednesday, 26 September 2007 19:35 (fourteen years ago) link

I'm always confused at the degree to which everyone--even really educated folk like Jeff Wright--dismiss Dwight Twilley Band as some critic fave defined by one song that no normal music fan would have any reason to find remotely interesting.

Put your preconceived notions about "power pop" aside for a moment, and simply consider:
1) They have two singers, each of whom can channel the sexiest, most yearning Elvis you ever heard
2) They're not even power pop, anyway, more a fusion of Sun Records slapback, late-70's rock and Brian Wilson ca. Pet Sounds
3) They have a BOATLOAD of archive material, much of it just as good as the official stuff -- even their least interesting songs are catchy and fascinatingly produced
4) When Phil left, Susan Cowsill of The Cowsills (ie, the inspiration for the Partridge Family) sang harmony with Dwight on some really, really hard, desolate-sounding rock
5) Phil Seymour's "Precious To Me" single is a lost classic.
6) The guys met at a matinee Tulsa screening of A Hard Day's Night and were the only ones in the theater.

Naive Teen Idol, Thursday, 27 September 2007 00:09 (fourteen years ago) link

Matt, your first post in this thread compared DTB to Big Star and Raspberries. Even with the two singers/Elvis channeling/Sun Records/slapback, all of which is correct, they weren't nearly in Chilton/Carmen's class as songwriters, and their records aren't as unique/inspired to me as Big Star and Raspberries. I honestly haven't heard the 'distinctive production' you mention, maybe I need to listen more carefully.

Keep in mind that your third point may be part of the issue -- Big Star and Raspberries made three and four albums respectively (minus the recent reunions), while Twilley's been active (and mixing the palette between DTB and solo stuff) for 30+ years -- the batting average is bound to be lower.

Absolutely correct on 'Precious To Me'.

Thanks for the compliment also -- a lot of my 'education' came from the time hanging around with you and the crew at the late lamented Co-Op.

Jeff Wright, Thursday, 27 September 2007 02:27 (fourteen years ago) link

gypsy mothra otm.

James Redd and the Blecchs, Thursday, 27 September 2007 02:54 (fourteen years ago) link

two years pass...

I'm Loo-ooking for the mahaahajic
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l24DFbedbJ0

Trip Maker, Friday, 25 June 2010 19:50 (eleven years ago) link

i've been listening to Sincerely like crazy lately. sounds so great to me. his records have really grown on me over the years. i like them more and more over time. and i friggin' LOVE the phil seymour album. the first one. i don't have the second one. i need it.

scott seward, Friday, 25 June 2010 19:56 (eleven years ago) link

like, even Scuba Divers sounds great to me lately. i must be in the mood. But Sincerely, man, what a record.

scott seward, Friday, 25 June 2010 19:59 (eleven years ago) link

Certainly hitting me right this summer.

Trip Maker, Friday, 25 June 2010 20:00 (eleven years ago) link

one year passes...

Because a photograph seems like an hourglass on time

calstars, Monday, 2 January 2012 17:13 (ten years ago) link

one year passes...

<iframe width="560" height="315" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/1xq0ykm_SrM" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe>

All kinds of heinous things, Monday, 26 August 2013 19:07 (eight years ago) link

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1xq0ykm_SrM

All kinds of heinous things, Monday, 26 August 2013 19:07 (eight years ago) link

I went and saw 'You're Next' and thought it was pretty meh, but it at least exposed me to this song which I've played about 150 times now. Anything else by this guy this good?

All kinds of heinous things, Monday, 26 August 2013 19:12 (eight years ago) link

i've always loved 'that i remember' from that same album. also the whole 'sincerely' album is good

dynamicinterface, Monday, 26 August 2013 23:32 (eight years ago) link

I had no idea I started this thread.

I've said as much upthread. But for me, where the classic work of Big Star and Raspberries is found on small handful of albums, it's precisely the depth and consistency of DTB/DT/PS's catalogue that gives their music its power. Whether it was recorded in 1975 or 1995, with Dwight and Phil or either of them solo, it doesn't make a difference really. It all sounds the same – often precisely the same.

And that sound is, in a word, special played at the right volume.
If you don't believe me, crank up "Burning Sand," a throwaway first released on The Great Lost Twilley Album. The joy in a song like this isn't in the songwriting or the performance really. It's in the cavernous echo on the harmonies, the thickness of which doesn't vary from verse to chorus until the very end when Twilley's screams are isolated for a brief moment of ecstasy before being lost in a cacophony worthy of Pink Floyd at the UFO club. It's a total rush.

Naive Teen Idol, Tuesday, 27 August 2013 02:04 (eight years ago) link

Looking for the Magic is seriously one of my top 20 songs of all time. I never get tired of it. That fey rockabilly voice he does, he's not actually using any reverb is he?

Moka, Tuesday, 27 August 2013 06:16 (eight years ago) link

There's a little echo but that's all.

Naive Teen Idol, Tuesday, 27 August 2013 11:05 (eight years ago) link

one year passes...

Looking for the Magic playing very clearly in a bar in a House of Cards episode

calstars, Thursday, 12 March 2015 02:39 (seven years ago) link

Just fired up his latest on Spotify – Always. Two songs in it's totally enjoyable and he still hasn't missed a beat.

Naive Teen Idol, Thursday, 12 March 2015 12:59 (seven years ago) link

eight months pass...

Scott Seward, in a post believe it or not eleven years ago you mentioned your friend David Snyder of The Bob fame. I would very much like to contact him to invite him to be part of a major project to digitize rock music magazines from the fifties through the eighties. I have been unable to locate him to tell him about the project and its predecessor, a project to digitize underground and alternative newspapers from the same period. Can you introduce us?

Ken Wachsberger, Tuesday, 24 November 2015 20:00 (six years ago) link

If Scott doesn't respond on this thread, you can reach him via his record store, probably.

curmudgeon, Tuesday, 24 November 2015 20:43 (six years ago) link

one year passes...

They're playing On Fire at the bar! I couldn't be happier

calstars, Wednesday, 22 February 2017 21:51 (five years ago) link

Now it's "we gotta get you a woman" by Todd. I think I've just entered the pearly gates

calstars, Wednesday, 22 February 2017 22:09 (five years ago) link

And now fucking thin Lizzy's "wild one"? Surely I don't deserve this

calstars, Wednesday, 22 February 2017 22:11 (five years ago) link

And fucking "bye bye bad man?" Damn

calstars, Wednesday, 22 February 2017 22:40 (five years ago) link

Sorry trying to stop but "range life"

calstars, Wednesday, 22 February 2017 23:19 (five years ago) link

Last one, I promise: NO OTHA

calstars, Wednesday, 22 February 2017 23:38 (five years ago) link

ha

curmudgeon, Thursday, 23 February 2017 19:08 (five years ago) link

eight months pass...
eleven months pass...

Just picked up a copy of Wild Dogs, his last pre-exile album from '86. Completes my set of early Twilley vinyl.

Nutso story behind its failure (taken from a longer interview):

I've never actually seen a copy of Wild Dogs, I admit.

Twilley's not surprised. "Hardly anybody did," he says.

The Right Stuff press release that came with XXI jokingly referred to the album as having "mysteriously vanished in the Jersey swamplands when one of the label's chief executives was indicted on payola charges."

But it was no laughing matter.

"Basically," says Twilley, "I was sort of romanced away from EMI with the idea that there was going to be this terrific promotion department. So, I spent about a year writing the songs and putting together what I thought was going to be the big follow-up to the Jungle album. About two weeks before the album came out, I was watching television and on NBC news they were showing FBI footage of the president of my record company with the Gambino brothers. And the next day, every artist on the label was dropped - except me, of course. Probably because the record was already in the pipeline. And the day after that, I'm on some other label called CBS Associated. Nobody knew me. I didn't know anybody there. They just basically buried the album. You know, there was supposed to be a video and the whole thing. It was all just swept under the table. It was really a drag."

The Greta Van Gerwig (C. Grisso/McCain), Wednesday, 24 October 2018 20:48 (three years ago) link

how is it?

calstars, Wednesday, 24 October 2018 21:52 (three years ago) link

It's alright. I need to absorb it some more. Production is very '1986', although it's more reined in than on Jungle (an album whenever I put on and hear the opening squiggly synth fanfare, I think I've put on the wrong record despite knowing better).

FWIW, Wild Dogs is up on US Spotify, which is kinda funny since it's​ never been on CD and was barely out on vinyl which went straight to the cut-out bins upon release.

The Greta Van Gerwig (C. Grisso/McCain), Wednesday, 24 October 2018 23:43 (three years ago) link

three years pass...

His first 'solo' album, Twilley, from 1979 is seriously slept-on. Lavish Jams for days.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pACQr0bI8ls

Precious, Grace, Hill & Beard LTD. (C. Grisso/McCain), Friday, 4 March 2022 00:50 (two months ago) link

Oh nice. Doesn’t seem to be available anywhere online… maybe slsk?

calstars, Friday, 4 March 2022 01:02 (two months ago) link

Probably. The vinyl's getting pricey, and iirc the only CD version was an import twofer w/Scuba Divers that's long OOP.

Precious, Grace, Hill & Beard LTD. (C. Grisso/McCain), Friday, 4 March 2022 01:26 (two months ago) link

The vinyl is literally available in VG+ condition on discogs for $9 right now

zacata, Friday, 4 March 2022 02:14 (two months ago) link

Plus Shipping!

I was using a broad definition of 'pricey'. On eBay copies start around 9 bucks (again, before shipping), but others get up near $20 before the $5 or so for shipping.

Precious, Grace, Hill & Beard LTD. (C. Grisso/McCain), Friday, 4 March 2022 02:41 (two months ago) link

Haven't played it since whenever I bought it--had to check--but I've got Twilley Don't Mind.

clemenza, Friday, 4 March 2022 03:48 (two months ago) link

two months pass...

Last song he did with Phil for a record that sank without a trace in 1986 is gorgeous: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Hd8NQgFEa54

Naive Teen Idol, Friday, 13 May 2022 03:51 (one week ago) link

(Wild Dogs, mentioned upthread)

Naive Teen Idol, Friday, 13 May 2022 03:52 (one week ago) link

I remember when I bought Jungle I was surprised to learn that Twilley wrote and originally recorded Crucial Taunt/Tia Carrere's song from Wayne's World, Why You Wanna Break My Heart
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K_WOurqdVDU

mizzell, Friday, 13 May 2022 18:58 (one week ago) link

I'm been reading this thread thinking, maybe I've been listening to the wrong Twilley.

His first 'solo' album, Twilley, from 1979 is seriously slept-on. Lavish Jams for days.

But nope, this is actually the one album I've bought, and have had zero success getting it to click.

(I do get more mileage out of the first Shoes album, btw, which is one of the common comparisons upthread, but I can totally see why people would also consider that one overrated)

enochroot, Friday, 13 May 2022 23:41 (one week ago) link

I'm been reading this thread thinking, maybe I've been listening to the _wrong_ Twilley.

_His first 'solo' album, Twilley, from 1979 is seriously slept-on. Lavish Jams for days._


But nope, this is actually the one album I've bought, and have had zero success getting it to click.

(I do get more mileage out of the first Shoes album, btw, which is one of the common comparisons upthread, but I can totally see why people would also consider that one overrated)


Since you have Sincerely, go listen to the third track, Feeling in the Dark and see what you think.

Naive Teen Idol, Saturday, 14 May 2022 00:29 (one week ago) link

By which I mean, while I like both songs, I don’t think the record really gets going until midway thru the first side. I also think “I’m On Fire” is a bit of a head fake and a little more cock rock than they actually were.

By contrast, once you get to Feeling In the Dark’s phased out shuffle, the shimmer of You Were So Warm and I’m Losing You, the record just hits another gear and doesn’t really come back down. But it starts with a bit of a head fake.

Naive Teen Idol, Saturday, 14 May 2022 01:16 (one week ago) link

(as I said)

Naive Teen Idol, Saturday, 14 May 2022 03:27 (one week ago) link

Since most of his records aren’t on Spotify, I downloaded his first three. Twilley and Scuba Divers were on a two-fer by Raven I think. I’m still digging into them but the first begins with a long Beatle-y tune ballad with strings and brass. It’s an interesting way to start off a solo career – it doesn’t sound inconsistent with anything he did with the band (who of course were plenty Beatle-y) but not really like anything they did either. One of the reviewers called it a “dirge” but I kind of wonder whether there was kind of an intended career pivot here they didn’t really follow through on.

Jungle, from 1984, is the real pivot and an unabashed pop move – synths, really tight harmonies and Linndrum beats, and the simplest song structures of his career. “Girls” was a top twenty song I somehow never heard until a few weeks ago. Between the call and response hook with Tom Petty in the chorus and the conceit of collecting intentionally dopey “insights” into the titular subjects, the whole thing is delightful (and the video is a pretty ace parody of Porkies).

Elsewhere, “You Can Change It,” which has a great big rush of a chorus and guitar hook, is where you start realizing that someone had the idea of positioning Dwight to capitalize on the Rick Springfield market – and that he’s pretty good at it. “Cry Baby” is another in that vein. Collectively, each of the tunes here has just enough melodic twists to remind you what a sly songwriter Twilley is, even when he’s clearly gunning for radio play.

Naive Teen Idol, Friday, 20 May 2022 12:02 (two days ago) link


You must be logged in to post. Please either login here, or if you are not registered, you may register here.