With Dwight Twilley's career recently reinvigorated via 2004's 47 Moons and the just-issued Dwight Twilley Live: All Access, it's a timely juncture to re-evaluate an under-examined period in the Okie popster's tenure.
Most rock fans have at least a passing familiarity with 1976's Sincerely (which yielded the powerpop gem "I'm On Fire") and 1977's Twilley Don't Mind, while the MTV generation knows the songwriter from 1984's Jungle and the Porky's-influenced video for the hit "Girls." But Twilley and Scuba Divers, issued by Arista in '79 and EMI in '82 respectively, both remain obscure by dint of poor promotion and contractual problems -- and the fact that neither has ever seen release on CD.
Until now, with Twilley/Scuba Divers, courtesy Australia's Raven label (www.ravenrecords.com.au), which further sweetens the deal by adding two bonus tracks and fresh liner notes.
Twilley always had classic British Invasion and Sun Studios in his DNA. On these records he also emerged as a stylist on the order of Todd Rundgren, Paul McCartney and Jeff Lynne. From Twilley's haunting Righteous Brothers-esque "Standin' In the Shadow Of Love" and crunching raveup "Alone In My Room" (which self-references "I'm On Fire"), to Scuba Divers' jangly "I Found the Magic" and heartbeat throbber "Somebody to Love," Twilley charted a travelogue through rock's back pages while still managing to sound utterly unique. And his gifts as a wordsmith were never more profound: "Nothing's the same inside/ When there's nobody there by your side" (from "Somebody to Love") may seem simple on paper, but in song, delivered in a tone of utter, bone-weary resignation, they can stop you in your tracks.
Two timeless platters on one CD -- how can you pass it up? Meanwhile, who out there remembers Twilley's lone Charlotte appearance, at Kidnapper's, back in the late '80s? Show of hands, please.