Posts Tagged ‘Shelter Records’

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Dwight Twilley and Phil Seymour performed as the Dwight Twilley Band through 1978, and Twilley has performed as a solo act since then. Twilley and Phil Seymour met in Tulsa in 1967 at a theater where they had gone to see the movie The Beatles’ A Hard Day’s Night, and soon began writing songs and recording together. They continued their partnership over the next several years under the band name Oister. Twilley wrote all the songs and played guitar and piano, Seymour played drums and bass, and both sang leads and harmonies. Later, guitarist Bill Pitcock IV played lead guitar on most of their tracks.

Twilley and Seymour eventually decided to leave Tulsa and try to be discovered in Memphis, Tennessee. By sheer chance, the first recording studio that they wandered into was Sun Studio’s, where they met, according to Twilley, “some guy named Phillips.” After listening to a cassette of their folk/pop/country blend, Jerry Phillips (son of Sun founder Sam Phillips) referred them to the Tupelo, Mississippi studio of former Sun artist Ray Harris, whom both Twilley and Seymour credited for introducing them to rockabilly and adding a harder edge to their sound.

Ultimately, Twilley and Seymour left Tulsa and went to Los Angeles in 1974 to find a record label, where they signed with Shelter Records, a label with offices in Los Angeles and Tulsa that was co-owned by Denny Cordell and Tulsa native Leon Russell. Cordell promptly changed the group’s name from Oister to the Dwight Twilley Band, which set the seeds for future problems arising from Seymour’s anonymity in the partnership. Because of Shelter’s Tulsa headquarters, they were able to self-produce many songs in their hometown, frequently without Shelter’s knowledge.
One of those songs, “I’m on Fire”, became their debut single and reached the Billboard charts in 1975 with relatively little promotion,  largely because the band was in England recording its first album, tentatively called Fire, with producer Robin Cable at Trident Studios. The photos used on the single’s picture sleeve were low quality from a photo booth, even less professional than the band’s first promo picture. The unexpected success of the self-produced “I’m On Fire” caused most of the English tracks recorded with Cable to be relegated to a second album, thereafter known as The B Album. Leon Russell then permitted the band to record new tracks at his 40-track home studio, where one of the engineers was Roger Linn, who also contributed lead guitars and bass to some of their recordings.

During an appearance on American Bandstand, the band played what was to be its follow-up single, “Shark (in the Dark)”, produced by Twilley, Seymour and Russell. The success of the film Jaws, however, caused Cordell and Shelter to reject the single, apparently to keep the group from being perceived as a cash-in novelty act. The eventual follow-up single, “You Were So Warm” backed with “Sincerely”, failed due to distribution problems; just after the single was released, Shelter Records collapsed in the midst of a lawsuit between Russell and Cordell. The Dwight Twilley Band’s completed album went unreleased for 10 months due to Shelter’s switch from MCA Records to ABC Records for distribution, and The B Album was left unreleased.
When the album “Sincerely” was finally released in 1976, it failed as well, During this time, Seymour and Twilley befriended labelmate Tom Petty and Phil sang backing vocals on “Breakdown” and “American Girl”, creating a long-lasting friendship.

In 1977, the Dwight Twilley Band performed on the short-lived CBS Saturday morning kids show Wacko!. Shelter then switched distribution again to Arista Records. ABC elected to keep Petty and J. J. Cale, leaving Twilley alone on the Shelter/Arista label. Pitcock became a credited member of the Dwight Twilley Band during touring and recording of the second album. However, that album, Twilley Don’t Mind, proved to be another commercial disappointment in 1977.

Seymour left the band the following year, pursuing a solo career with some success until he developed what proved to be terminal cancer. He died of lymphoma in 1993, and as of 2007 Twilley still did not perform Dwight Twilley Band songs that featured lead vocals by Seymour. The Dwight Twilley Band albums were reissued in CD form with bonus tracks by the audiophile DCC Compact Classics label in 1989 and 1990. In 1993, shortly before Phil Seymour’s death, the Dwight Twilley Band released The Great Lost Twilley Album, which collected a fraction of the “hundreds” of early unreleased songs Twilley and Seymour had recorded for Shelter, including several songs from The B Album and Blueprint as well as a few alternate versions of released songs. However, once again the Dwight Twilley Band fell victim to some label politics, as EMI bought the rights to Shelter just weeks after the release, and all three of the DCC Dwight Twilley Band albums went out of print again.

In 1997, The Right Stuff, a reissue label owned by EMI, reissued Sincerely and Twilley Don’t Mind with somewhat different bonus tracks from the DCC versions. They both went out of print the following year, when EMI discontinued the label.

The Dwight Twilley Band albums Sincerely and Twilley Don’t Mind were reissued again in a two-disk compilations by Australia’s Raven Records in 2007 with still different bonus tracks.
Finally, in 2009, a tape of the Dwight Twilley Band’s October 1976 concert at the Agora Theatre and Ballroom in Cleveland, Ohio, which had been recorded for broadcast on Cleveland radio station WMMS, was remastered and released as a live album entitled “Live From Agora”.

The Dwight Twilley Band
  • Sincerely (1976, reissued 1989, 1997, 2007)
  • Twilley Don’t Mind (1977, reissued 1990, 1997, 2007)
  • The Great Lost Twilley Album (1993)
  • Live from Agora (2009)

Phil-Seymour-If-You-Dont-Want-My-Love

It’s somewhat difficult to believe that Phil Seymour has been gone for nearly 27 years now, but thanks to the continuing Archive Series (now in its sixth volume), new material from the vault continues to see release. The latest collection is a 15-song feast that includes eight previously unreleased tracks, all recorded prior to Seymour signing with Boardwalk Records and releasing his first solo effort in 1980. (By the by, the overall fidelity is stronger here than on some other posthumous Seymour releases.) There are a clutch of well-traveled covers—including the Equals’ “Baby Come Back,” the Dave Clark Five’s “Come Home,” and a 1985 live version of Dwight Twilley’s “Looking for the Magic,” recorded for a radio broadcast during Seymour’s tenure with the Textones—but the real gold here is to be found in the lesser-known tunes. To wit: the title track is a slammin’, hyper take of a cool John Prine number; the Tom Petty-penned rarity “I Can’t Fight It” is a Chuck Berry-styled punk-ish rocker; and the pounding “Wish it Was a Saturday” (love the bluesy harp) lyrically recalls the Bangles-via-Prince hit “Manic Monday.” All feature the voice—that beautifully unique voice—that Phil Seymour fans cherish and still miss. The closing track is Seymour’s home demo (with just vocal and guitar) of the touching “I Really Love You,” a song from his first solo album. I’m not crying, You’re crying.

In his short career Phil Seymour was hailed by Shelter Records founders Leon Russell and Denny Cordell, received production offers from Phil Spector, played with Tom Petty, Chris Spedding, the Textones, Roy Orbison and Del Shannon, and counted among his friends and fans people from the worlds of power pop, roots rock, New Wave and indie Rock. With kindred spirit Dwight Twilley, Phil forged a determination to bring back melodic pop songs. They spent several years mastering harmony, piano, guitar, drums and the art of crafting a high-quality song, building a home studio where they spent endless hours recording under the name Oister. In 1974 they set off for Los Angeles and renamed themselves the Dwight Twilley Band.

Soon they were in the US Top 20 with ‘I’m On Fire’, but frustrations followed as Shelter dealt with financial difficulties, and Phil decided to go solo. Initially he struggled to find a foothold but once the new wave hit America, the Phil Seymour Band stormed Hollywood and became one of the hottest acts on the circuit. Signed to Neil Bogart’s Boardwalk label, by 1981 Phil was at #22 on Billboard’s Hot 100 with the self-penned classic ‘Precious To Me’. More terrific releases followed until his untimely death from cancer. IF YOU DON’T WANT MY LOVE / Archive Series 6, contains 8 previously unreleased tracks recorded prior to his record deal with Boardwalk, including productions by Denny Cordell and Phil Spector. These spirited masters and demos with songs by John Prine, Dwight Twilley, Jeff Barry and Ellie Greenwich, provide insight into the creative process of the early days of the Phil Seymour band and the development of his first two albums. A portion of the proceeds from this CD will be donated to TEEN CANCER AMERICA.

Initially following its release, the album received little attention in the United States.  But Following a U/K tour, it climbed up the UK album chart and the single “Anything That’s Rock ‘n’ Roll” became a hit in the UK. After nearly a year and many positive reviews, the album reached the U.S. charts, and eventually went Gold.

It’s a great American rock album with beautifully constructed songs and a passionate vocal from Tom Petty.
It runs in at a little over 1/2 an hour so it is slightly short by today’s standards but the music there in is wonderful.
Before I mention the songs individually , I should say that there isn’t the searing guitar overload of a live performance, in that the solos are short and not as stand-out in the mix.
Live, there was more emphasis on soloing but the songs are rock ‘n’ roll works of art and this is an album that you can’t tire of.
Luna, is a beautiful ballad, is my favourite song of the album and I would say that it is a unique song , part blues, part lullaby , with a beautiful organ melody that you’ll never forget.
huge anthemic track American Girl is a joy and the guitar solo at the end is a piece of magic,
The Wild One Forever and Mystery Man are beautiful , gentle songs with melodies to die for.
Throw in Fooled Again, Breakdown and Strangered in the Night et.al. and you have one of the best albums ever made. Wonderful stuff !.

The singles “Breakdown” and “American Girl” became an FM radio tracks that can still be heard today.

The album was recorded and mixed at the Shelter Studio, Hollywood, California.

Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers

The 10 Best Leon Russell Songs

Right after Leon Russell graduated from Will Rogers High School in Tulsa, Oklahoma, in 1959, the young musician had to make a decision. Should the 17-year-old kid go to Tulsa University, as he had planned, or should he accept an offer to go on the road as Jerry Lee Lewis’s guitarist? Attend ROTC drills on the quad or play for screaming girls in high school auditoriums? , He hit the road.

Leon Russell, The Journeyman who died Sunday at age 74, kept making similar decisions all his life. He continually put himself in unlikely situations to test and extend himself as a musician. He was willing to play Texas honky-tonk with Willie Nelson, British pop-rock with Elton John, folk-rock with Bob Dylan, bluegrass with the New Grass Revival and gospel-soul with Aretha Franklin. He responded to every situation by mastering the new territory and then adding something that was indelibly his own: a bluesy, churchy shuffle that became known as the “Tulsa Sound.”

After a few months with Jerry Lee Lewis, Russell moved to Southern California, where he teamed up with Elvis Presley’s virtuoso guitarist James Burton and became a top L.A. session musician, playing on such landmark albums The Byrds Mr. Tambourine Man, The Beach Boys Pet Sounds, Flying Burrito Brothers  Burrito Deluxe and the Rolling Stones’ Let It Bleed.

This was mostly session work that went uncredited on record sleeves in those days. Russell returned to live playing when he joined Delaney and Bonnie and Friends, where he made good friends with then band members George Harrison and Eric Clapton. But the first time the wider public got to know him was in 1970 when he became the last-minute music director and band member for Joe Cocker’s second American tour. Leon Russell had contributed production, arranging and songwriting (“Delta Lady”) to the 1969 album Joe Cocker! and when the singer’s British band fell apart just days before the tour was supposed to begin, he called Russell .

The now famous tour was called Mad Dogs & Englishmen. Joe Cocker and organist Chris Stainton were the Brits, while Russell and his assemblage of Okies and Californians were the crazed canines in the massive, 22-person troupe. With his long brown hair spilling out of a top hat and over his shoulders and a pointy Van Dyke beard filling his sternum, Russell played conductor and kept shows balanced on the narrow fence between spontaneity and chaos. He was bolstered by the rhythm section of fellow Okies: drummer Jim Keltner and bassist Carl Radle. The feature film and two-LP album, both titled Mad Dogs & Englishmen, documented the tour as a heady mix of rock ‘n’ roll hedonism and showmanship.

A year later Russell was a key participant in the Concert for Bangladesh at Madison Square Garden: playing piano behind his friend George Harrison, bass behind Bob Dylan and singing lead on a couple of songs himself, most notably the medley including “Youngblood”.

When he was doing session work in L.A. in the ‘60s, he brought out many of his teenage friends, such as Keltner, Radle, guitarist J.J. Cale, future Bread leader David Gates, organist Dick Sims, drummer Jamie Oldaker, drummer Chuck Blackwell, guitarist Jesse Ed Davis and the great, underrated singer Roger Tillison. For a while, they all hung out at Russell’s home/studio on Skyhill Road in the Hollywood Hills, writing songs and playing sessions.

They developed a slinky sound that Cale jokingly said was a result of trying to play the blues and getting it wrong. Leon Russell himself described it as playing country shuffles against a Jerry Lee Lewis boogie. A relaxed swing inhabited the music, perhaps a ghost echo of Bob Wills’ nights at Tulsa’s Cain Ballroom, lending a liquid lyricism to the hillbilly and blues influences these 1950s teenagers had swallowed. Every song boasted a deep groove, but these musicians were more likely to ease into it than to push into it.

British producer Denny Cordell met Russell during the Joe Cocker! sessions and partnered with Russell to co-found Shelter Records in 1969. But by 1972, Russell had tired of California and was itching to get back home. He now had some money on the basis of a No. 2 album (Carney), a No. 11 single (“Tight Rope”) and the royalties from other people’s versions of his songs such as “Delta Lady,” “Superstar,” “A Song for You,” “This Masquerade,” “Hummingbird” and “Roller Derby.” Shelter Records, based in both L.A. and Tulsa, remained a small label, but it made a huge impact on popular music by releasing the landmark debut albums by J.J. Cale, Tom Petty, Willis Alan Ramsey, Dwight Twilley and Phoebe Snow. Cale’s record, 1974’s Naturally, provided the template for the subsequent careers of Eric Clapton and Mark Knopfler.

With that cash he bought seven acres on the bank of the Grand Lake of the Cherokees outside Tulsa and build a sprawling home/studio/guesthouse compound. Shelter Records hired legendary documentarian Les Blank to make a film about the tribal family that Russell gathered around himself and the music that they made. The resulting impressionistic movie, A Poem Is a Naked Person, captured the bizarre bohemia of those days. Underground comic artist Jim Franklin paints a giant octopus on the bottom of a swimming pool; Russell delivers over-the-top rock ‘n’ roll sermons from the piano, and country legends such as Willie Nelson, Eric Anderson and George Jones drop by.

“Roll In My Sweet Baby’s Arms” 
Leon Russell’s country phase found him adopting the guise of Hank Wilson , a sturdy country crooner that served as a front for four albums of mostly traditional tunes. This track, a sentimental standard extracted from the first album in that somewhat strange series, put him on the charts and gave him credibility as a legitimate country crooner. But Russell was so unhappy with the film that he kept it from theatrical distribution until 2015. Perhaps he had tired of the psychedelic circus he was leading. He dropped the rock ‘n’ roll gypsy persona and made a credible album of honky-tonk standards called Hank Wilson’s Back, featuring Russell in a rhinestone cowboy suit. He resurrected that hillbilly persona for four albums in all, the last being 2001’s Rhythm & Bluegrass, his second collaboration with the New Grass Revival.

Russell should be remembered not only for the records that bore his name but also for those he ushered into being—whether they were those Shelter debuts or the guilty-pleasure bubblegum-rock of Gary Lewis & the Playboys, the obscure Dylan single “Watching the River Flow” or the astonishing North Texas songwriting of Willis Alan Ramsey. And Russell should get the credit for spreading the gospel of the Tulsa Sound, whose influence rippled out in concentric circles beyond that small Oklahoma city.