Tom Petty’s second solo album “Wildflowers” from 1994 was always a sought-after collector’s item on vinyl. Now the complete work has been released as a remastered triple album “Wildflowers & All The Rest”. How does it sound in comparison?
Some background on Tom Petty Wildflowers & All The Rest
When Tom Petty recorded Wildflowers, he was not doing very well. Divorce in his private life, trouble with the Heartbreakers – a change was needed. Together with producer Rick Rubin and his best buddy guitarist Mike Campbell, Petty locked himself in the studio and recorded song after song. For almost two years. Musicians were brought in as needed. Among them were all the Heartbreakers (except drummer Stan Lynch!) as well as a colourful mix of artists. Even Ringo Starr sat behind the drum kit for a piece. In the end, Petty had enough material for at least a double CD. However, on the advice of the record company, Wildflowers was only released as a single CD. Shortly before his death, Petty began to prepare the release of “all the rest”. His daughter Adria Petty completed what her father did not manage to do in his lifetime. Wildflowers & All The Rest in all its glory is a masterpiece that sounds as good in 2020 as it did in 1994. And unlike similar projects, the additional songs maintain the high standard of quality. The whole story is captured in a documentary, which you can find further down in the post.
How good is the pressing of Wildflowers & All The Rest?
The reissue from 2020 has been carefully pressed on approx. 160g heavy vinyl. No streaks or obvious flaws are visible. But the same applies to the 2009 variant, here the weight per record is more like 140g.
How is the Wildflowers & All The Rest equipped?
The new edition was given designed inner sleeves with all the song lyrics, but unfortunately lined inner sleeves were forgotten. But the older edition didn’t have them either. And instead of designed inner sleeves, buyers of the 2009 edition received the lyrics on an insert.
How good does Wildflowers & All The Rest sound?
The early LP versions of Wildflowers were analogue recorded but digitally mastered for CD. The small LP editions didn’t really play a role commercially. Fortunately, producer Rick Rubin’s production already sounded pretty good: airy, transparent, wide stage, depth. At most a little too compressed, as was slowly becoming fashionable in the mid-90s. So if there is anything to criticise, it’s that there was a little too little dynamic left.
Silky acoustic guitars, luxuriant strings, bone-dry drums and all kinds of other instruments when necessary. All very tastefully arranged and perfectly but not sterilely recorded.
So the source material for Wildflowers & All The Rest was really not bad: Even on CD, Tom Petty’s Wildflowers sounded rather good. And yet Chris Bellmann for Bernie Grundman Mastering managed to get a tad more out of the original tapes. But for my taste, the improvement is not as great as Michael Fremer portrays in his video (further down in the article). A little more dynamic and a minimally wider stage can be recognised in the direct comparison.
Otherwise, the same applies to both versions: A current rock production can hardly sound much better.
How do the levels and frequency response of the two Wildflowers pressings differ?
In terms of dynamics and level, there are only minor differences. However, in the 2009 pressing, small but subtle differences in dynamics were limited away (arrows). You can see that the peaks in the upper diagram are always the same length, as if drawn by a ruler. In contrast, the lower diagram shows slight volume fluctuations. The 2020 version thus offers somewhat more dynamics.
Apparently, the tracks from the original Wildflowers album have also been remixed, as can be seen, for example, in the first few seconds of the track You Don’t Know How It Feels. Here there is a swelling sound before the drums kick in. In 2009, more of it was heard here in the right channel. In 2020, the sound takes place almost exclusively in the left channel.
The frequency spectrogram shows a small surprise: In the area of the transition from the upper bass to the fundamental range around 200 Hertz, the 2009 version is louder. This is shown by the larger orange areas in the upper diagram.
Which pressing of Tom Petty – Wildflowers is better?
The original from 1994 – just like the present double album from 2009 – is only available in good condition for three-digit prices. Therefore, the question does not really arise. The Wildflowers & All The Rest is a tad more dynamic and otherwise sound-wise as well as press-wise on the same high level as the earlier editions. In addition, the new edition has a bonus album with songs that are in no way inferior to the titles on pages 1 to 4. All in all, a well-rounded affair. One of the best albums of 2020 comes from 1994.
- You Don’t Know How It Feels
- Time To Move On
- You Wreck Me
- It’s Good To Be King
- Only A Broken Heart
- Honey Bee
- Don’t Fade On Me
- Hard On Me
- Cabin Down Below
- To Find A Friend
- A Higher Place
- House In The Woods
- Crawling Back To You
- Wake Up Time
All The Rest
- Something Could Happen
- Leave Virginia Alone
- Climb That Hill Blues
- Confusion Wheel
- Harry Green
- Hope You Never
- Somewhere Under Heaven
- Climb That Hill
- Hung up And Overdue
|Title||Wildflowers & All The Rest|
|Label||Warner Records||Warner Brothers Records|
|Catalogue number||093624929291||200 776-320|
|Revolutions/minute||33 1/3||33 1/3|
|Cover||Triple Gatefold Sleeve||Single Sleeve|
|Add-ons||–||Beilegeblatt mit Lyrics|
|Laquer cut by||Chris Bellman||Not specified|
|Pressing plant||Record Industry, NL||Not specified|
|Matrix-Runout||29901 1A 093624899105 093624892991-A Re-1 CB 29901 1B 093624899105 093624892991-B Re-1 CB 29901 1C 093624899105 093624892991-C Re-1 CB 29901 1D 093624899105 093624892991-D Re1 CB 29901 1E 093624899105 093624892991-E CB 29901 1F 093624899105 093624892991-F CB||1-45759-1-SR1 KPG@ATM 1-45759-2-SR1 KPG@ATM 1-45759-3-SR1 KPG@ATM 1-45759-4-SR1 KPG@ATM|
|Country of manufacture||USA||USA|