Tag Archives: Sincerely

T.G.I.F. – Ten for Bill Pitcock IV (R.I.P.)

Bill Pitcock IV might not be a household name, but anyone who has ever heard a Dwight Twilley album – and I sure hope you have heard several – is feeling a bit sad today. Pitcock died this morning in Tulsa.

Pitcock was (pun fully intended) instrumental in the sound of The Dwight Twilley Band. In fact, the band recorded in a shop owned by Bill’s Dad. To say that Dwight, Phil Seymour and Bill made magic is a vast understatement.

Tons of Twilley song clips here.

For all the recent accolades about Leon Russell – well deserved, mind you – it was his split with Denny Cordell that tanked Shelter Records and almost sunk the careers of Dwight Twilley and Tom Petty. It certainly derailed the release of Sincerely, where “I’m On Fire” was an aptly named track except that no one could find the album in the stores. By the time they could, the heat was off, and who knows whether that doomed Twilley to “almost brass ring” status. Even Petty didn’t click widely until Damn The Torpedoes; his first two albums are just as good and the first three are better than the rest combined.

Pitcock continued to record with Twilley on and off over the years, most recently back in the fold for the Blimp album. Bill also just released his first solo album Play What You Mean. Check out Bills MySpace site or go to Amazon to hear some tracks.

So R.I.P. Bill Pitcock IV – your ringing guitars will live forever at my house. Here are Ten For Bill Pitcock on this week’s TGIF

(01) – “Twilley Don’t Mind” – yeah, that bass player is who you think he is.

(02) – “You Were So Warm” – how was this not #1?

(03) – “Trying To Find My Baby

(04) – “Precious To Me“- I hope Bill is playing with Phil today.

(05) – “Feeling In The Dark

(06) – “Girls” – the uncensored video

(07) – “Looking For The Magic

(08) – “Baby It’s You” – more Phil Seymour magic.

(09) – “I’ll Be Taking Her Out Tonight” – he and Geo Conner played guitar on The Tremblers album

(10) – “I’m On Fire” – Acoustic version, 2010, followed by the original.

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Under The Radar: Dwight Twilley

In closing yesterday’s post about Dwight Twilley’s Kickstarter campaign for Green Blimp, I stated that despite the indifference of pop radio and the music industry in general, for veteran artists with a core following, every new album is another chance.

That led me to look back to what I wrote when Dwight’s last album of new material, 47 Moons, was released in 2005. Sure enough, I had the same tempered enthusiasm and cockeyed optimism. But I openly questioned the marketing and distribution plan for that album…and apparently rightfully so.

This time around, Twilley seems committed to a more conventional promotional campaign including radio station visits and shows in key markets (in addition to his viral online strategy). Hell, I don’t care what it takes – I just hope people get the opportunity to discover the album is out there and then listen to his music. Let the chips fall where they may at that point, which is all that an artist can really ask for.

Here’s my 2005 review of 47 Moons

I’ve been waiting years and several releases to be able to utter these words: DWIGHT TWILLEY IS BACK! I’ve enjoyed the past few collections and reissues and even the newer material, but somehow it was all a little bit lacking. Not anymore.

Twilley has long since abandoned the three-minute pop formula he used to dazzle us with. Songs now drift into the fifth minute with regularity, and the title track clocks in at close to seven. It’s as if he’s realized that the current radio sandbox doesn’t have room for him anyway, so why bother? Instead, he seems to have put his industry bitterness to the side and focused upon making some music from his heart. Great move Dwight: almost as good as making certain Bill Pitcock IV is a central part of the effort.

The results may not knock you out on a quick listen: there’s no “I’m On Fire” to be had here – but spin this two or three times and you cannot help but be won over. It’s not a perfect record; “To Wait Is To Waste” is bloated at six minutes long, an idea that never gets off the ground. And those in search of more electrifying material might want to skip through the midtempo “King Of The Mountain” or the synthetic “Chandra.” However, “Ice Captain” and the beautiful title track prove he can shine in that pace as well. Add five standout tracks that will captivate any classic Twilley fan – “Chance Of A Lifetime,” “Walkin’ On Water,” “Runaway With You,” “Better Watch Out” and the infectious “Jackie Naked In The Window” – and you can see why this record is destined for my Best of 2005 list next December.

Dwight Twilley has always had one of the great pop voices, and his harmonies with Phil Seymour still send chills up my spine. But even in the old days he could stack his own vocals with great results, and it’s great to hear him singing with passion again. And three cheers for Bill Pitcock, the little-known guitar whiz who added so much charm and texture to the classic Twilley catalogue. He’s in classic form bouncing notes off Twilley’s rockabilly-hiccup vocals in “Flippin” or playfully ripping off his own licks in “Runaway With You.” Still inventive on guitar and bass, still criminally unknown.

The real mystery to 47 Moons is the marketing and distribution. Digital Musicworks is a label dedicated to “distributing and promoting artists’ music exclusively through digital music stores.” That’s a nice credo, but an unproven business model for legacy artists who have a wider and older fanbase. Sure, there are those who will be happy to buy a track or even the album in a digital download format. But cutting out the physical market when the digital age is embryonic is a major, major mistake. And if you are, then why is it available as a standard CD on Amazon?

And if Amazon can sell it, why is it not yet available at online retailers like Not Lame who have supported his past efforts and cater to his audience, let alone independent record stores where his fans would likely shop? What kind of “promoting” and “distribution” is that? I had to scrounge to find a copy of the record and only knew about it because I periodically do a web-search for information about Twilley. I was also surprised to find a Christmas EP. If I’m struggling as a proactive fan, what about the casual audience who needs to be alerted? You’re a label with one of the brightest lights in power-pop history in your hands and you’re not making a big deal out of his new album?

This reminds me of a horror story from the past. Dwight Twilley’s career missed capitalizing on a meteoric start when his label (Shelter) couldn’t get Sincerely into stores despite massive airplay for the single (“I’m On Fire”) and a strong promotional buzz across the media landscape. By the time they finally did connect with the buying public, it was too late – the momentum was gone and so were the sales and dollars. I sure hope DMI isn’t about to make history repeat with the same colossal blunder.

Listen to clips of 47 Moons at Amazon

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Blast From The Past: Dwight Twilley

Dwight Twilley fans are no doubt salivating over the recent avalanche of rarities, live cuts and demos that Dwight has decided to release to the market. Priced reasonably on tactile media and even cheaper via digital download, it’s a clear reminder of why Twilley (with and without partner Phil Seymour) holds a special place in pop history. Sincerely still ranks among the best pop debut albums of the rock era, a breath of fresh air with timeless songs, heartfelt vocals and engaging musicianship. Hard to believe that the Twilley/Seymour “band” lasted only two albums, although both recorded more classic pop on their own.

This wealth of material reminds me the excitement I felt ten years ago, when both a Twilley collection and a new Twilley album dropped virtually at the same time. Sure, there was always the occasional bootleg to savor, but now there was authorized product that we hoped would reinvigorate his career and bring the accolades he deserved. But neither Tulsa nor Between The Cracks broke out, and ten years later I still have the same wish for him.

At least I got my other wish – that open vault I pined for.

Here’s my original take from 1999 on Between The Cracks, Volume 1:

between cracks

A collection of fifteen unreleased tracks from across Twilley’s career, Between The Cracks is a godsend to fans (along with Tulsa, a brand new release on Copper Records). From his mercurial beginnings with partner Phil Seymour through the frustrations of trying to succeed against tides of indifference and just plain bad luck, Twilley’s history is spotted with brilliant work that is criminally underappreciated. Thanks to releases like these, Twilley might enjoy another well-deserved shot at the brass ring.

“Black Eyes,” the leadoff track, could well have fit on any of his releases, especially the first two. With trademark quavering vocals and the always-stellar Bill Pitcock IV on guitar, this sounds like the perfect follow-up to “I’m On Fire,” although it was recorded years later. Susan Cowsill’s harmony vocals graced many Twilley tracks at the time and she sounds almost as good as Phil Seymour. Similarly, “No Place Like Home,” recorded in 1990, could and should have been radio smash.

Some of the early tracks like “Living In The City” and “Too Young For Love” have that same primal pulse that many tracks on Sincerely do, and “Round And Around” is a stark, Lennon-esque balled (played on an out-of-tune piano) with a great vocal from Dwight. Despite the cloudy production (or perhaps the horrible shape some of these tapes might have been in) they are fascinating glimpses into Twilley’s early era. And if songs like “Why You Wanna Break My Heart” are more your speed, “Reach For The Sky” and the amazing “Oh Carrie” (maybe the best song on this set) will give you the two follow-up hit singles that never happened.

The whole package is first rate – Kent Benjamin’s heartfelt liner notes are excellent and Dwight contributes song-by-song comments that are informative and witty. As much as I look forward to his revived career and new material, I also hope Twilley continues to mine the vault to share his past with us. Oh, what might have been…

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