From the moment I heard Tom Petty’s Wildflower’s album I knew it was a special release and it quickly became one of my favorite of his albums. Given that it came out in 1994, it was only available on CD as far as I knew.
I later learned that it had been available on vinyl for a short period and that version went on to become a pricey collector’s jam. Fast forward to the aftermath of Mr. Petty’s tragic recent death (RIP), Warner Music has issued Wildflowers & All The Rest, a three LP edition of the classic album plus a full LP’s worth of tunes recorded in the same sessions but not released due to time constraints in order to keep it to a single CD at the time. Originally Petty wanted the album to be a multi-disc set, with 25 songs; those songs are now all reunited quite gloriously under one roof.
All in all I am very pleased with this edition released in a lovely tri-fold cardboard sleeve with gorgeous graphics and photos. It is all very deluxe and the albums are of a very high quality, dark black vinyl, well centered and happily quiet.
About the only nit I have to pick is that they don’t reproduce the charming vintage mid-1960s gold label Warner Brothers Records label exactly as they did on the CD — it is close but I guess that since Warner Records seems to have spun off from parent company Warner Brothers they probably can’t legally use that logo anymore (unless they license it or some such hokum). Admittedly this is a tiny detail, but it is something record collectors notice.
Of course the songs are the stars here and as a vinyl album listen, Wildflowers & All The Rest doesn’t disappoint. In fact, as I have found with two-disc vinyl reissues of some favorite once-single-albums — such as XTC’s Skylarking — I really like the multi-disc treatment of the music. It gives you a chance to absorb what you’ve heard, taking a pause to flip the album and start with fresh ears.
Indeed, a song like “It’s Good To Be King” is a perfect Side Two opener (as opposed to being Track 5 on the CD, coming abruptly after the raw rock of “You Wreck Me.” In this new three-disc form, it is like listening to six extended play mini albums.
Of the new songs, “Something Could Happen” jump out as not only fully formed but certainly worthy of feature status on the album. The “All The Rest” portion of Wildflowers features several tunes which appeared in a different form on the She’s The One film soundtrack. “California” is a jangly sweet acoustic sunshine strummer and “Climb That Hill” is quite epic with a very cool stuttering drum pattern that elevates the fast-picked, multi-layered 12-string guitar so it sounds more like a chiming violin section in an orchestra — this is a beautiful production and it sounds terrific on vinyl!
“Hung Up and Overdose” closes the album with a sweet Brian Wilson-esque homage that includes Ringo Starr on drums and Beach Boy Carl Wilson on backing vocals!
There are several incarnations of this new edition of Wildflowers. At a recent visit to a favorite music store I got a peek at one of the seven LP super deluxe edition. Called simply Wildflowers & All The Rest Deluxe Edition, it looks like a beautiful high quality package. There is a four CD version of the collection as well.
Whatever way you get it, this reissue of Wildflowers & All The Rest is a long overdue treat and one of the best reissues of the year.