Sunday, June 6, 2010

June 6

Happy Birthday to Dwight Twilley: he's a practicioner of power pop, a genre that always loved the radio more than radio loved the genre (see: Badfinger, Big Star, The Knack, OK Go.)

Raised in Tulsa, OK, Twilley met fellow Beatles fan Phil Seymour at a screening of "A Hard Day's Night" in 1967. They started writing songs together and playing them out as the band Oister. They made the trip to Sun Studios, ingesting the rockabilly rhythm into their sound. They moved to LA and signed to a label that renamed them the Dwight Twilley Band. Almost without trying, they got their first top 20 single "I'm On Fire". That turned out to be the apex of the band's success; label interference (they didn't release the second single "Shark" because they didn't want to piggyback on the success of "Jaws"... what?) and difficulties (first album delayed almost a year, second never released, label sold and resold) wore the band down to pieces.
By 1978, the band was broken, and Twilley had a solo career... and it's his return to the charts that I remember. In 1984, I was 10 years old and a bit of a troll, which didn't bother me so much at the time. And yet there was something missing which I couldn't explain, until I discovered cable television, and MTV, and Night Flight, and Dwight Twilley's "Girls" (this might be the NSFW version:

I can't be certain if I actually saw the unedited version or not; the only copy I have on VHS is the 'dialectic' version, which re-edited the video with clips from Eisenstein and 30's exploitation films. Also, don't remember the video using a girl to lip-sync Tom Petty's vocals in the video. But that video got me on the road to years of late night viewing, whether it was all-night Marx Brothers marathons, weirdo cartoons, schlock sci-fi or the vibrating Rorscach tests that were unscrambled Skinemax broadcasts...
As for Dwight Twilley, "Girls" was his last top 40 hit. The digital revolution finally rolled things his way, with most of his recordings finally seeing daylight in the 00's. In 2009, he even released a Beatles covers album.
Here's a couple of other tracks. The first is "Why You Gonna Break My Heart", his other top 20 hit (released just before "Girls".) The audio is the studio recording, overlaid on a performance on "American Bandstand"...

...and this is just one more song I liked.

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