Song of the Week – I’m On Fire, Dwight Twilley Band


In the mid to late 70s the Dwight Twilley Band was trying to find its niche. Their brand of rockabilly influenced rock (power pop, really) didn’t have a clearly segmented audience like so many other genres of the day like southern rock, progressive rock, glam, punk or even disco/funk.

Yes, there were a few others travelling down the same road – Cheap Trick comes to mind – but to me, Twilley was closer to Springsteen in his approach.

His first album, 1976’s Sincerely on Leon Russell and Denny Cordell’s Shelter Records, contained a genuine power pop classic – “I’m On Fire”.

This song has snap, crackle and pop. Right out of the gate, the guitars sizzle and the cymbals crash. Dwight Twilley and partner Phil Seymour, two Oklahoma boys, “one up” the best of the British Invasion.

Both the song and album suffered from the poor distribution that Shelter was known for, so they never attained the popularity they deserved. But that’s what the SotW is for!

Enjoy… until next week.

Night Music: Little Richard and the James Gang, “But I Try”

I’m pulling this from the liner notes for Joe Walsh’s box set Analog Man, explaining where this cool artyfact came from. Joe Walsh says:

“I found this is an old box of tapes I had. It is a recording of The James Gang jamming with Little Richard in Cleveland, Ohio about 1970. Me on guitar, Jimmy Fox on drums, Dale Peters on bass and featuring Little Richard at his best. I remember we played a couple of shows in the Midwest with LR and, I think, Chuck Berry on the same bill and on a day off in Cleveland we decided to go into Cleveland Recording and mess around. We did a few songs, but this is the only one that survived. I called LR for permission to include it on Analog Man and he said “It makes me wanna go out in the yard and yell LAWDY LAWDY!” Little Richard is one of the true founding fathers of rock & roll and a huge influence and inspiration to every musician I know including me. It’s an honor to know him and to be able to share this magical moment in time with all of you. God bless you LR! Thank you.”

The tune is credited to (Walsh, Jim Fox, Richard Penniman, Dale Peters).

Saved: The All Saved Freak Band, “Daughter of Zion”

Cleveland lifer John Coleman suggested that I find some of Clevelander Glenn Schwartz. Schwartz was in the Measles with Joe Walsh, and preceded him as guitarist in the James Gang, but the one tune of the Measles I could find was pretty mild.

It turns out that Schwartz was the lead guitarist in the LA band Pacific Gas + Electric during their salad days (“Are You Ready?”), but had a conversion experience and left the rock and roll life to play and record with the All Saved Freak Band.

Coleman says Schwartz still rants like a batshit crazy person, but when he plays he shreds.

This tune is pretty hot, praise the lord.

Schwartz left the Freak Band in 1980 and plays out in Cleveland.

Snacktime: The Measles, “I Think of You”

Joe Walsh’s first band in college was called the Measles, and included Cleveland legend (according to Cleveland legend John Coleman) Glenn Schwartz, who later played guitar in Pacific Gas and Electric (and just about every band around at the time, maybe because he was insane.

If I’m understanding correctly, the Measles recorded on song, I Think of You, which was released as a single under their name and on the first Ohio Express album, under the name Ohio Express, called Beg Borrow and Steal. On the same album is a version of the hit song Beg Borrow and Steal that you’ll find in the Nuggets boxed set, which was released in 1966 credited to the Rare Breed.

In any case, for Joe Walsh and Glenn Schwartz completists, here are The Measles. And get vaccinated!

Lunch Break: The Seeds, “Pushin’ Too Hard,” and “I Can’t Seem to Make You Mine”

Good old YouTube.

It is like looking through the old Macmillan Baseball Stat book: You look up one number, and that leads to another and another and what started out as a search for Napoleon Lajoie’s (got it that time, Steve) best year for doubles (51 in 1910) winds up comparing George Brunet’s career WHIP (1.316) with that of Jamey Wright’s (1.545, pretty crappy for a former first rounder) three hours later.

My piece on the Syndicate of Sound led to Gene posting the Music Machine, and when I finished watching that, there was a link to the Seeds on a show called Shebang, which I think I remember, but am not sure.

I can say that I kind of liked the Seeds, but I can also say this is maybe the worst lip sync ever:

But, in typical stat searching style, that led to this video of 50’s pin-up model Bettie Page dancing, I guess suggestively, to another Seeds hit, I Can’t Seem to Make You Mine.

The song is ok, and for sure Bettie was hot (dark hair, bangs, and blue eyes are deadly. If I knew she was left-handed, and wore glasses sometimes a la Dorothy Malone in The Big Sleep, I would have probably spent my life savings trying to track her down) but for the most part the whole thing is stupid, and not really provocative (was it in 1966?  I doubt it.).

Breakfast Blend: Bob Dylan, “It’s Alright Ma (I’m Only Bleeding)”

Since Diane and I have been up in the mountains the past week, evening time has meant movies for the most part (don’t get me started on trying to stream the World Series or the NFL on a laptop or tablet or IPhone: to frustrating and worse than flying cos’ every keystroke costs something).

Diane had never seen the wonderful Martin Scorsese PBS film, No Direction Home, the American Masters documentary on Dylan covering his childhood up to the infamous Royal Albert Hall performance in 1966 (I still posses a vinyl bootleg that was called The Great White Wonder of the set).

What has always struck me about both the film as well as his autobiography, Chronicles, Volume 1, is what a normal guy Dylan seems to be despite all they hype and adulation and craziness that has surrounded the bulk of his career.

I particularly love the press conference scenes in the movie, like this one:

Anyway, Gene’s post on Louis, noting folk is not dead, sort of stirred it up in me as to just how amazing and prolific and ridiculously good Dylan was at everything folk before he led the charge to changing the rules and plugging in and pissing off the traditional folkies, for example, at said Royal Albert Hall gig.

There is a lot of footage in No Direction Home of Dylan at Newport in the early 60’s and he is just riveting, not just as a songwriter, but the dude is also a fantastic acoustic guitar player, and this showcases just how good he is!

Lunch Break: Syndicate of Sound, “Hey Little Girl”

Back in the late 60’s, when suddenly garage bands were booming and scoring hits, there was a bevy of groups who hit the Top 40.

The Leaves (Hey Joe), The Sonics (The Witch, among others, documented here even), The Count Five (Psychotic Reaction, made even more famous by the late Lester Bangs), and The Standells (Dirty Water, made even more famous by the Red Sox) are some of those collectives who scored radio play.

And in there was the double Rickenbacker sound (gets me like I think dual SG’s get Steve) and quasi Brit look the Syndicate of Sound carried on their flirt with fame.

See for yourself.

Breakfast Blend: Cake, “Short Skirt, Long Jacket”

I have to admit I never really know just how to compartmentalize Cake.

Surely, by Steve’s definition they are not rockers, and despite the trumpet, the band is neither soul, nor jumpin’ jive a la the Squirrel Nut Zippers, as an example.

The band’s vocals are not really sung, and well, if there is the beautiful ability of a band to coordinate back-up vocals and harmonies as Steve has pointed out, Cake breaks a those rules by shouting out the back-ups, in unison, and in tune, but hardly sung.

If I had to use a word for them, it would be quirky.

I believe the band hails from Stockton, California, a somewhat sleepy largely farm community about 40 miles southeast of Sacramento which also produced the equally offbeat Pavement.

My late wife, Cathy Hedgecock, was a reporter for the Stockton Record for a few years back in the late 80’s, in fact she was the first woman assigned to the farm beat in the history of the Record, something that may seem ho-hum these days, but at the time was a big deal.

Cathy actually wrote a collection of short stories called The Draping Effect that focused on the bizarre things that came through the newsroom of a community that was too big to be a town, and not quite big enough to really be a city. In fact, Cathy often said if there is a strange crime that occurs on the planet, chances are it was six degrees of separation from Stockton.

Anyway, here is my favorite Cake to go with your coffee this morning.