Two-disc set chronicles power popster’s productive latter years
You could say it’s been one hell of a ride for Dwight Twilley. Emerging from Tulsa, Oklahoma in the mid Seventies, he scored a big hit right out of the gate with “I’m On Fire” – establishing right away Twilley’s keen way with a melody, something he’s been doing for over 40 years. After souring on the bright lights of the big city, he returned home to Tulsa near the close of the last millennium and began making records on his own terms.
The Best of Twilley: The Tulsa Years sums up one of the most fruitful chapters of his career. The two disc set also contains several bonus tracks as well. Twilley also gives his memories of the late Leon Russell.
Hailing from Tulsa, Oklahoma, Dwight Twilley teamed with Phil Seymour in the Dwight Twilley Band, hitting gold with their very first single, 1975’s “I’m On Fire” – lauded by the San Francisco Chronicle as “The best debut single by an American rock band ever.” But, a combination of dumb label decisions and bad luck prevented the band’s career from properly taking off.
That didn’t stop Twilley – he’s into his fifth decade of making melodic rock n’ roll – and he’s just released a brand new record called Soundtrack. Inspired by a movie that’s currently in production about his life, Twilley turned inward to write 12 new songs about his long journey and ups & downs in the music business. Icon Fetch talks with the “father of power pop” about his band’s experience playing on Dick Clark’s American Bandstand, the personal nature of these new songs, and the passing of longtime friend and guitarist Bill Pitcock,IV.
Full Moon Fever is Tom Petty’s best collection of songs, and it’s also his first solo outing outside his band, the Heartbreakers. After seven LP’s, Petty decided to go it alone, but he smartly keeps one element of his band intact in guitarist Mike Campbell. His slinky solos are the one holdover from his previous albums. By enlisting former ELO guru Jeff Lynne to produce the album, Petty ensured that it would sound nothing like the jangly, roots rock of his past.
In truth, the album sounds closer to the Traveling Wilburys, which Lynne helmed the year before: robotic drums and processed guitars; this is slick rock at it’s finest. Everything works here, from the opening anthemic “Free Fallin,’” to the excellent driving tune “Runnin’ Down a Dream,” to the goofy, countrified “Yer So Bad.” Perhaps, outside of his band setting, Petty doesn’t have to conform to what he’s supposed to sound like. He can stretch a little, as in the eerie “A Face in the Crowd.” There’s even room for him to pay his debt to the Byrds, in his cover of “I’ll Feel a Whole Lot Better.” Oddly, Petty would invite Lynne back to produce his next album with the Heartbreakers, Into the Great Wide Open. Sonically, it would sound exactly like this album, showing how strong a force Lynne was as a producer. –Tony Peters