Dwight Twilley

Live from Agora

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AllMusic Review by

Dwight Twilley is worshiped as a minor deity among power pop fans thanks to a handful of great studio albums he cut in the 1970s with Phil Seymour, but if you want to hear the guy at the top of his form, this disc might be the best place to go -- for sheer energy and raucous fun, Live from Agora may well be the most purely enjoyable document of Twilley's music since his debut album Sincerely in 1976. Twilley, Seymour, and their band were touring in support of Sincerely when they played a gig at Cleveland, OH's Agora Ballroom in October 1976, which was recorded for radio broadcast. After years of circulating as a bootleg, Live from Agora gives the show its first authorized release, and it's a total scorcher -- forget power pop, this is the sound of a crack rock & roll band firing on all cylinders, and the musicians (unfortunately uncredited) honor the addictive hooks in these tunes while pushing the energy and swagger into the red zone. Twilley and Seymour's harmonies are spot-on while each sings with just the right amount of rock & roll grit, the backing band kicks noticeably harder than they did in the studio, the crowd (clearly liking what they hear) gives the performances a solid energy boost, and the set list is excellent, including most of the best stuff from Sincerely, a few tunes from the upcoming Twilley Don't Mind, and even three songs that were never recorded by the original incarnation of the Twilley band ("Shakin' in the Brown Grass," "Skywriter," and "Betsy Sue"). The sound quality is very good indeed for an archival radio broadcast, and this album is a blast from front to back -- simply put, if there had been more American rock bands this good in the mid-'70s, punk rock wouldn't have had to come along to save the day. Rambunctious and soulful fun, Live from Agora is a major find that deserves to be heard by more than a handful of pop obsessives.

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