Dwight Twilley is one of the great overlooked artists in American pop history. After creating two incredibly fine guitar pop records with Phil Seymour, Twilley struck out on his own and released the very good Twilley album in 1979 and the lesser but still exceedingly listenable Scuba Divers in 1982. Raven has done Twilley fans the service of releasing both on one disc and throwing in the "Money"/"Somebody to Love" single from 1979. Twilley is no great departure for Twilley and indeed features a handful of songs he had been stockpiling for years. The band features many of the same musicians from the previous albums, most notably guitarist Bill Pitcock IV, while songs like "Nothing's Ever Gonna Change So Fast," "Betsy Sue," and "Runaway" are the kind of classicly structured, lushly produced, and passionately performed power pop gems Twilley cranked out like a machine. What makes the album work is the variety of songs (a nice mix of rockers, introspective ballads, and moody tunes like "Runaway") and the use of strings on songs like "Out of My Hands" and "Standin' in the Shadow of Love." The strings combined with the songs' dramatic sweep lead to thoughts of ELO fronted by Tom Petty and produced by Phil Spector -- but, more importantly, give the record an added boost. Overall, it may not stack up to Sincerely, but Twilley is one of Twilley's best. Scuba Divers isn't quite as successful, as the production is glossier, the songs are not as sharp, and there is a slight lack of inspiration in places. Some of this feeling may come from knowing the tangled and depressing history behind the album's recording and eventual release; some of it certainly comes from the lack of energy and spark in some of the songs and performances. Still, there are some moments of Twilley magic and some great songs, like the absolutely lovely "Somebody to Love," the exuberant rocker "I Found the Magic," "Dion Baby," and the yearning "I Think It's That Girl." The album also benefits from the harmony vocals of Susan Cowsill, the continued presence of Pitcock, and the fact that even a less than 100 percent Twilley is still better than just about any other '70s/early-'80s pop/rocker. The two records are vital pieces of Twilley's history, and Raven deserves a parade for finally releasing them on CD.
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AllMusic Review by Tim Sendra