TOM PETTY – ” Wildflowers ” Deluxe Re-Issue

Posted: August 20, 2020 in ALBUMS, MUSIC
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San Francisco Ca - Tom Petty at Bay Area Music Awards 1998 at the Bill Graham Civic Auditorium in San Francisco California On March 7 1998 Usa Oakland1998 Bay Area Music Awards

The new Tom Petty box set after a long time waiting is finally getting a release, Heartbreakers guitarist Mike Campbell tells us that the group hopes to release a live set commemorating their 1997 residency at the Fillmore in San Francisco. They played 20 sold-out shows at the historic theatre in January and February of that year, radically changing the setlist each night. In 2009, seven songs from the Fillmore run were released on the Live Anthology compilation, but that was just a tiny sampling of their total collection.

“For me, that was almost the pinnacle of the band just being totally spontaneous night to night to night,” says Campbell. “We might throw in a Grateful Dead song that we just learned that afternoon. We recorded every show and we had guest artists from Bo Diddley to Roger McGuinn to John Lee Hooker. And I know, in my memory of those 20 nights, there’s an amazing album in there.”

Tom Petty estate finally release an expanded edition of his 1995 LP solo “Wildflowers”. Petty had said  that he wanted to take the Heartbreakers and whoever else to reproduce every sound in a big way,” of that album. That album was really about sound in a big way. The plan was to go out there and perform the entire album as it was originally conceived with all of the songs.”

“Wildflowers” was initially envisioned as a double album, but was ultimately pared down to 15 songs on a single CD release. It became one of the most successful records of his career, with singles “You Don’t Know How It Feels,” “You Wreck Me” and “It’s Good To Be King” all getting extensive radio play. For years, Petty has been contemplating assembling the unreleased material into a deluxe package. The Super Deluxe Edition of the set features 70 tracks, spread out over five CDs, with nine songs that have never been released plus 34 alternate versions.

Curated by Tom’s daughters, Adria and Annakim Petty and his wife Dana Petty. A 2-CD set includes 25 songs, with ten previously unreleased cuts. A top of the line Super Deluxe Edition is a sprawling package available in a 5-CD or 9-LP 180g vinyl.

In addition to the original LP, the box contains a disc titled All the Rest that includes 10 outtakes from the sessions, five of which have never been heard. The third disc is comprised of 15 Petty home demos, with three of its 15 songs unreleased. The fourth CD consists of live versions of 14 songs recorded between 1995 and 2017, 12 available for the first time. The fifth disc, Finding Wallflowers, consists of 16 alternate studio versions.

“I think I put four of the [Wildflowers outtakes] on the She’s The One soundtrack just to fill out the album,” says Tom Petty. “But they were very hastily mixed. Take ‘Climb That Hill.’ There’s a version of that on She’s The One, but the Wildflowers one I think is extremely better. ‘Hung Up And Overdue’ is another one remixed and it turned into an epic. Carl Wilson [of the Beach Boys] and [Heartbreakers bassist] Howie Epstein singing quite a bit of harmony that didn’t come through on the original. Then again, there’s probably six songs that nobody has heard. There’s 11 or 12 [new] songs on the album. I think people are going to like it a lot. I like it a lot.”

The new version of Wildflowers will be released. “At one point the label really just wanted to put it out as a standalone album, And then there’s the point of view where they want to put both records together. There’s also the point of view that wants the box set with all the demos and all that.

The Wildflowers box set has been in the works for quite a long time, something that Petty frequently spoke of in his final years. The 1994 album was originally envisioned as a two-disc set, meaning many songs got cut for space when it was truncated. A sweet, tender melodic ballad opens Tom Petty’s acclaimed 1994 album Wildflowers. The title track’s initial chorus reveals a simple desire: freedom.

You belong among the wildflowers / You belong in a boat out at sea / Sail away, kill off the hours / You belong somewhere you feel free.”

“I swear to god it’s all ad-lib from the word ‘go,’’ Petty told Paul Zollo in his 2005 book, Conversations with Tom Petty. “I turned on my tape deck, picked up my acoustic guitar, took a breath and played that from start to finish. And then sat back and went ‘Wow, what did I just do?’ And I listened to it. I didn’t change a word. Everything was just right there, off the top of my head. It’s a very sweet song. It’s got really good intentions.” Sonically, “Wildflowers” came from a different world than much of Petty’s work from the ’80s. There are no drums on the track at all, and the song features little more than a jangly acoustic guitar, piano, a spot or two of harmony and Petty’s pure vocals. Turning instead to a more stripped-down, raw and natural approach, he entered the studio with his bandmates from the Heartbreakers, unsure exactly of what the result would be. “Wildflowers” arrived like a breath of fresh air, or as Petty put it, a “stream of consciousness.”

“I actually only spent three and a half minutes on that whole song,” the rocker confessed to Zollo. “So I’d come back for days playing that tape, thinking there must be something wrong here because this just came too easy. And then I realized that there’s probably nothing wrong at all.”

Producer Rick Rubin was also taken aback by the flow of material pouring out of Petty.

“One day, between cassette recordings of songs he was working on, he began strumming the guitar,” said Rubin . “After a couple of minutes of strumming chords, he played me an intricate new song complete with lyrics and story. I asked him what it was about. He said he didn’t know, it just came out. He had written it, or more like channelled it, in that very moment. He didn’t know what it was about or what the inspiration was. It arrived fully formed. It was breath-taking.”

Though Rubin couldn’t remember the exact song Petty played — it could very well have been “Wildflowers” — the producer was amazed by the the ease with which Petty put tunes together. Rubin, also enamoured with the songwriting from Full Moon Fever (1989), would go on to produce the entire Wildflowers record.

“When we first met, I was impressed with his dedication to writing,” the producer recalled. “He wrote constantly and called me to come and hear new songs often. There is a poetry about them that spoke to me.” But that poetry wasn’t immediately clear to Petty when he wrote “Wildflowers,” and the direction the song was taking him was unclear, though he knew his crumbling marriage was likely playing a part.

“I’ve read that Echo is my ‘divorce album’, but Wildflowers is the divorce album,” Petty told biographer Warren Zanes in the 2015 book, Petty: The Biography. “That’s me getting ready to leave. I don’t even know how conscious I was of it when I was writing it. I don’t go into this stuff with elaborate plans. But I’m positive that’s what Wildflowers is. It just took me getting up the guts to leave this huge empire that we had built, to walk out.” When the title track came tumbling out of his head, Petty didn’t recognize his subject straight away. His therapist asked him who the song was about.

“I told him I wasn’t sure,” the musician recalled to Zanes. “And then he said ‘I know. The song is about you. That’s you singing to yourself what you needed to hear.’” It appeared the freedom the subject was seeking was Petty’s to find. Whatever had been bottled up inside had come out onto the page and had become an unforgettable three minute song about love and liberation. “It kind of knocked me back,” Petty admitted. “But I realized he was right. It was me singing to me.”

Petty had seen the Rolling Stones play Sticky Fingers at the Fonda Theatrer in Los Angeles and noticed they played it completely out of sequence. “Single album concerts often don’t scan right for a concert,” he said. “But with the amount of material I had for the Wildflowers double album, I think I’ve got enough tempos and types of songs that I could do a live show … And it’ll be fun for the audience since there’s a bunch of songs they’ll know.

The album, which features hits like You Don’t Know How It Feels,” “You Wreck Me” and “It’s Good To Be King,” has been due an extensive re-release.

Now that he’s gone, his former collaborators are determined to see the projection to fruition. “I see that in the cards,” says producer Ryan Ulyate. “It’s going to be fantastic.” There’s also talk of deluxe editions of key albums from Petty’s catalogue. “If there’s a market for something like that,” says Campbell, “we’ll do it.”

Wildflowers & All The Rest—Super Deluxe Edition: A 5-CD and 9-LP 180g Direct to Consumer, Limited Edition set that features 70 tracks, nine unreleased songs and 34 unreleased versions. Includes Rick Rubin introduction, David Fricke essay, track-by-track for all music and lyrics to all the songs on Wildflowers and All The Rest. This set also comes with a hardbound book, cloth patch of Wildflowers logo, sticker of Wildflowers logo, replica of “Dogs with Wings” tour program (the 1995 Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers tour), hand-written 4-song lyric reprints in vellum envelope, a litho of new and exclusive art by Blaze Ben Brooks for the song “Only A Broken Heart,” and a (numbered) Certificate of Authenticity.

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