Last week, Salon.com published an article (“Stop hating these bands! Taylor Swift, John Mellencamp, even A Flock of Seagulls”) based on the idea that every generation reconsiders and finds new admiration for past artists.
Salon then examines musicians that are “desperate need of popular reassessment and rediscovery”. Included amongst The Monkees, Robert Palmer, Bonnie Raitt, John Mellencamp, A Flock of Seagulls and others are two Oklahomans: Tulsa power pop musician Dwight Twilley and Norman mega-country star Toby Keith.
An Oklahoman who in the ’70s was crafting songs as catchy and as brazenly fun as Cheap Trick, Dwight Twilley is a power-pop auteur with an excitable vocal style and a penchant for razor-sharp hooks. He scored a radio hit with “I’m on Fire,” which has been criminally excised from classic rock playlists; in fact, he may be best known for lending songs to “Wayne’s World” and the recent masked-intruders movie “You’re Next.” But Twilley’s catalog, both with the Dwight Twilley Band and as a solo artist, is incredibly deep and endlessly replayable. Where to start: Because 1979’s “Twilley” is out of print, the best entry point is 1977’s “Twilley Don’t Mind.” In addition to having a great title, it’s wall-to-wall hooks, from the stuttering vocals on “Looking for the Magic” to the desperately staccato “baby! baby!” on “That I Remember.”
“Courtesy of the Red, White, and Blue (The Angry American)” is more than a decade old now, yet Toby Keith’s reputation remains tethered to that admittedly unsavory hit and to his largely misunderstood politics. Dismissed by the left due to that jingoistic hit, he’s similarly rejected by the right because… wait for it… he’s actually a Democrat. Stuck in the middle, he’s released nearly an album a year, all marked by his keen songwriting and weathered voice, which can deliver a ballad like “Hope on the Rocks” as persuasively as it can sell a singalong like “Red Plastic Cup.” Where to Start: Keith released a string of strong albums throughout the latter half of the 2000s, but his best may be 2006’s “White Trash with Money,” thanks to the rowdy honky-tonk production courtesy of Keith and singer Lari White. Opener “Get Drunk and Be Somebody” could have been a Great Recession anthem, “Crash Here Tonight” seduces with desperation and dignity, and all it would take is for someone like Willie or Merle covering “A Little Too Late” to make it your favorite song.
I’ve cobbled together some of the songs mentioned in the descriptions above, as well as my personal favorites from Twilley and Keith. Reassess. Rediscover. Reshare this with other haters.