Sincerely (1976) ****
Twilley hit the charts in 1975 with the modernized-rockabilly for-the-state-of-the-'70s smash, "I'm On Fire," which updated Elvis' classic swagger for the chest-medallion and bell-bottoms age, but failed to deliver a followup in timely fashion; by the time his debut album was released, eighteen long months had passed, thus quashing Twilley's nascent rise to stardom. A pity, as not only is "I'm On Fire," a perfect single of roots-rock classicism, but this album of relatively diverse pop-rockers ranks as one of power pop's great lost classics. And in its swinging-hipped fusion of '50s Southern rock with '60s British Invasion pop, one of the most distinctive - Big Star were considerably too Anglophile to get the correct dosage of both influences down just right. With Twilley and partner-in-Beatlemania Phil Seymour recording nearly all the instruments themselves in their downhome Tulsa studio, the sound is attractively sparse with lots of breathing room between the notes, if on the downside a little musty and lacking proper punch & fire due to the somewhat demo-ish origins.
The opener is naturally - you guesstimated it - "I'm On Fire," and a better intro to a debut couldn't be wished, but there are plenty of more fine songs; if none of the tunes are as great as the single, there's really not a bad or less than good song on here. The murky psychedelia of the title track, with its mid-break mini-symphony of backwards phased guitars, ranks almost as stellar, and either the jingly "You Were So Warm," or the jangly "Just Like the Sun," could've placed in the charts as a followup single. The material ranges from the sorta-annoying rockahillbilly chug of "T.V.," to the Raspberries aimlessly driving up and down the strip, "Baby, Let's Cruise," to the "Good Day Sunshine"-piano-isms of "Could Be Love," while maintaining an easy stylistic unity due to Seymour & Twilley's consistency of dusty-musty homebrewed sound. The duo's Anglophilia rears its haunches most obviously in the homage to black-hills-I-ain't-never-seen (real Anglophiles should get that reference), "England," but even on that cut it's impossible to imagine an English band cutting it: the sound couldn't have come out of anywhere else but eastern Oklahoma. There's something arid about it, you know what I mean? But not sunbaked. The atmospheric soul clearly hails from the western deserts, but there's more than a touch of southern slapback funkiness to it - just like eastern Oklahoma itself.