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Tom Petty – Wildflowers & All the Rest (Deluxe Edition)

January 14, 2021

Wildflowers is the second solo studio album by Tom Petty (vs. with The Heartbreakers), released on November 1, 1994. This was his first Petty album produced by Rick Rubin (fresh off his success with Johnny Cash). It is an absolute masterpiece. It is Petty’s Americana album.

Since Wildflowers was released we have always been told it was missing about a third. Conceived as a triple album, Warner Brothers (Petty’s new label) convinced him to cut it down and surprisingly Petty complied. Petty teased for years that he would properly release all of Wildflowers. It has finally arrived along with deluxe and super deluxe editions.

The basic edition is a remastered original album along with the ten songs Petty intended to be on the album. The deluxe edition of Wildflowers & All The Rest contains 54 tracks:

  • 8 unreleased songs
  • 24 unreleased alternate versions
  • The 15 track original album (remastered)
  • All The Rest (10 songs from the original Wildflowers sessions)
  • 15 solo demos recorded by Petty at his home studio
  • 14 live versions of Wildflowers songs recorded from 1995 – 2017
  • Packaging includes a 60-page book, an introduction by Rick Rubin, an essay by David Fricke, a complete track-by-track, and rare photos and specially commissioned illustrations
  • Exclusive to the super-deluxe edition is two LPs of alternate versions (Finding Wildflowers)

The deluxe version is available on streaming services (master quality on Tidal).

The 10 All The Rest songs are revelatory – they were not fat trimmed from the original – they are essential tracks that appropriately complete Wildflowers and make it better that it already is. I have been waiting for this for a quarter of a century and it was worth the wait. This is not over hyped material.

Petty’s home demos of the Wildflower material are very enlightening. You get a sense of what a masterful songwriter Petty is. Most of the home demos are 80% of the final product. This is an artist with a vision.

The live stuff comes off so easy and natural for Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers – like perfectly broken in boots. Thankful they don’t play it straight – it’s a jam. Petty and band are great live performers. They are tight and lose at the same time and a touch theatrical (in a good Springsteen kind of way). They are rock stars and know how to put on a rock show. Mike Campbell can blaze on the guitar and Benmont Tench can sure tickle the keys. Petty is a confident, but laidback front man. It is pure magic.

In the end I picked up the 3 LP version on vinyl (original album plus the ten All The Rest songs). The bonus material is nice but I can’t justify $150 when high resolution streaming is available (Tidal Masters being my choice). The vinyl edition sounds fantastic and has revealed gems in the arrangements that I never noticed on the original 1994 CD or the current Tidal Master stream.

From → Music Reviews

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