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Dwight Twilley Band

ABC/Shelter SRL-52001
Released: July 1976
Chart Peak: #138
Weeks Charted: 14

Dwight TwilleyIn America's less criss-crossed midsection, young rockers have the opportunity to incubate their dreams -- and their talents -- free of pressure. The most romantic of these Middle American rock & rollers make up an intriguing group of isolate but still much-inspired hip-innocents. Probably the best is Memphis's Big Star, whose two Stax-distributed albums are among the finest I've heard in the Seventies, but the Hot Dogs, Blue Ash and Cowboy (from Memphis, Youngstown and Macon, respectively) also know intuitively how to turn Beatles, Byrds and Beach Boys influences into thrilling and individual records.

The thoroughly inspired efforts of Tulsa's Dwight Twilley Band are finally drawing national attention to this phenomenon. Like Big Star, the Twilleys wrap themselves handsomely in Sixties filigree, with an emphasis on pre-psychedelic Beatles, adding some rockabilly echo for greater resonance. They do it so well and with such personality that it seems nothing short of miraculous.

The Twilleys managed to get on AM radio in mid-'75 with their very first attempt, the astounding "I'm on Fire," but they soon dropped from sight. Now, they reappear with Sincerely, which has been released to introduce the new ABC/Shelter label; I mention this corporate merger only because the attendant circumstances may provide the record with the necessary promotion to make it a hit. There's no question that the music is sufficiently accessible -- these riffs, hooks and harmonies are as irresistible now as was their source material in 1966. With the Beach Boys and the Beatles back on the charts, the stage is set for a Twilley breakthrough.

There are 12 tracks, all originals, nine of which were recorded in Tulsa; the longest is "I'm on Fire" at 3:15. All of the songs are loaded with gorgeous evocations not just of the three Bs but also of the Searchers, Mamas & Papas, Ventures, ? and the Mysterians, Buddy Knox, and the Turtles (among others), overlaid and quick-cut into a dazzingly coherent style. Twilley and partner Phil Seymour do all the vocals and most of the instrumental work, with Bill Pitcock IV laying in guitar leads on 11 of the songs.

Sincerely is -- to use the Hawaiian vernacular -- "chicken skin" music, in which the abundant sublime moments are as significant and well defined as any of the tracks as a whole. In keeping with the milieu they're advancing, the Twilleys have more sophistication and daring than they know what to do with. But at the same time, they manage to purvey a completely credible teen-innocent's romanticism. If their work here is blatantly derivative, it's also quite personal. The Twilley Band has concocted the best rock debut album of the year.

- Bud Scoppa, Rolling Stone, 9/9/76.

Bonus Reviews!

At first I cringed at the noisy mediocrity of the Dwight Twilley Band, especially during the first two tracks (the second, "Could Be Love," is sung so stridently and horribly off-key that I hollered back at the record, "It could be gas pains too, kid!"). But by the end of the album I was pleasantly perplexed. I'm still not sure if Twilley's group is an imitative bunch living in the recent musical past (end of the Beatles era) or if they're affectionately satirizing it. But on the whole, with the exception of the first two tracks, I found the album delightful. It Twilley's music is satire, it is accurate; if it's nostalgia, it has a rowdy charm.

- Joel Vance, Stereo Review, 12/76.

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Dwight Twilley Videos

The harmony exhibited by Twilley and Phil Seymour is the most outstanding quality of this album. Leon Russell joins the team playing piano and bass on "Feeling In The Dark." The concept of the album is not new, but the voices are clear and distinctive. The album, containing both uptempo and ballads, was written entirely by Twilley and contains his hit of last year "I'm On Fire." Best cuts: "I'm On Fire," "Feeling In The Dark," "Release Me," "England," "Just Like The Sun."

- Billboard, 1976.

These days I suppose anybody who can construct hook-laden pop-rock songs -- half good, half better -- without schlocking them up qualifies as a walking treasury of people's art, like Taj Mahal. But because his natural habitat seems to be the studio (a forty-track when he has his druthers), this does smell a little like a museum. B+

- Robert Christgau, Christgau's Record Guide, 1981.

From the opening Anglo-pop/rock-meets-rockabilly blast of the Top 20 hit single "I'm on Fire," through breezy jangle-rock numbers like "You're So Warm," "Just like the Sun," and "England," to the dirge-like psychedelia of the title song, Sincerely is Twilley's finest album. It's a must-own for fans of guitar pop/rock. The CD includes four bonus tracks. * * * *

- Rick Clark, The All-Music Guide to Rock, 1995.

Twilley and Phil Seymour, his partner in crime, set out to preserve guitar pop in the mid-70s with Sincerely (1976) and Twilley Don't Mind (1977), seminal works that combined Twilley's straightforward, Tom Petty-style rock and Seymour's pop sensibilities.

- Chris Richards, Musichound Rock: The Essential Album Guide, 1996.

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