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MaryJanes2ndLastDance

Some Thoughts on Into The Great Wide Open

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Yes, thank you, very good example! Time! "When The Time Comes", "Wake Up Time", "Time To Move On", "Flirting With Time"!

 

 

But this isn't my point. I recognize that Tom uses words over again, (how could he not?) but with Highway/Road, well, I've already explained it. The equivalent of what you're saying would be When the Time Comes, When the Time Arrives, When the Time Moves On, When the Time Flirts. 

 

cheers

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So, in line with TP's own remark, and despite everything else that one might find important in an album, I think this aspect says a lot – not only of my lack of guitar playing skills – but of the great and consistent quality of the songs on ITGWO.

Come to think of it, this definition - the idea that what constitute greatness in a song, is a simple inner beauty and force that makes it possible to do it full justice with a single guitar and a voice - does have certain implications. Apart from ITGWO, the albums I find most stacked with songs that work this way, would be Last DJ and Highway Companion. Perhaps with Full Moon Fever and Wildflowers as runner ups.

None of these (save perhaps ITGWO and Wildflowers) are normally found towards the top of my list of favorite TP albums. I guess this goes to show two things: 1) even if all great albums are stuffed with great songs, not all compilations of good songs makes for good albums and perhaps more importantly 2) even if almost all great songs work well in simple renditions (thus according to TP's definition), not all songs that work well in simple renditions, are great songs (that is, TP's rule does not work backwards).

That said, in the case of ITGWO I must say that all the aspects line up nicely. It got both the great bunch of songs, with one of the highest averages in terms of songwriting quality in the whole cataloge, and it manages to add up all the other aspects too, to become one of the best albums. This just to underline that sometimes passing the TP test of song quality in the most striking manner, does not always guarantee you a win in the best albums race. Sure, the aforementioned TP Rule applies, to some extent and from some angles, but since relying exclusively on it will have me end up with favorites like DJ and Companion, I suppose all I did by bringing it up, was proving that Bob's Rule applies as well.. in that from a certain angle "the order is rapidly fading and the first one now will later be last". :) It all depends, how very philosophical.

Then again.. making an album that fully works.. ah, the art and beauty of it!!

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If not in my top 5 TPATH, this record probably comes in at six. Maybe higher depending on my mood. I also have fond feelings of this album and the tour, even with all the bits of schtick. As a souvenir of the concert experience, Take the Highway is pretty good. The only thing that would've made it better would be a complete show from the tour and less of the camera swooping in.

It's still a bit surprising that something as great as You And I Will Meet Again was never performed live.

The last tour with Stan as well. 

Aside from wanting the drums to sound a bit different and for him to have had more freedom in crafting the parts, I wouldn't have known about Jeff Lynne's approach had I not read about it. 

 

cheers

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I think some of the sparse playing in the live version of Too  Good To Be True, reminds me of the sparse interlude moment in Runaway Trains.

 

Runaway Trains could have benefitted from the (live) sound of Too Good To Be True.

As a souvenir of the concert experience, Take the Highway is pretty good. The only thing that would've made it better would be a complete show from the tour and less of the camera swooping in.

At the time the album came out, I was too young, too less of a fan and too far away geographically to attend a live concert. Only a few years after I discovered Tom through the Greatest Hits, so ITGWO was still the latest album. To this day I find the album as well as Take The Highway feel like a rebirth, or a birth acutally, the start of something new and special. Which is strange, because FMF was the actual (re)birth of Petty's (new) musical self. ITGWO feels more dreamy, for some reason, whereas FMF is more down-to-earth in sound and feel. But what's more, where FMF was Tom kind of accidentally stumbling onto a new playground, a new work method for himself, and experimenting with Jeff's way of recording, ITGWO found him arriving at the point where he had fully integrated his new abilities into his system. Maybe that's why he could throw the doors wide open (no pun intended... but maybe things are connected here).

Through Take The Highway runs an atmosphere of... optimism, for lack of a better word. That is, if you neglect Stan's feeling uncomfortable with the new material (the cover-band argument). Tom seems to be pretty much at peace with himself, the band, and his music (if not with politics). But most of all, it's the music, of course. Everything sparkles and jangles... I think it's their most unique sound (I can hear the complaints already ;)), this special blend of West Coast bands of the sixties, southern rock'n'roll and British pop. Nothing else ever sounds like them at that time, not even themselves nowadays! The lyrics are mature, but not boring, and so are the songs. I think that is, maybe, because there's not yet anything formulaic about the performance. Sure, they do play RDAD, but it's only three years old at that time. Not 25.

That's why ITGWO to me is the peak of "Tomness". Sure, he rocked harder in the late seventies, sounded even more mature and wise on Wildflowers and rediscovered his anger as late as 2014 with Hypnotic Eye. But sometimes transitional phases can be peaks in their own right as well, despite them being unspectacular. That certain and rare combination of innocence (Learning To Fly and All The Wrong Reasons are based on a four- and three chord pattern, respectively, and do neither feature complicated lyrics or melodies) and maturity (Built To Last, Two Gunslingers, Learning To Fly, Into The Great Wide Open, All The Wrong Reasons and The Dark Of The Sun all contain insights and perspectives he did not have or did not share ten years earlier), set to beautifully layered arrangements played by top-notch musicians... Not even Jeff's rather stiff production methods could destroy that. I even believe he added his very own spark of magic to the mix that created the album's airiness. Learning to Fly set the tone. And the sky was the limit.

Edited by TwoGunslingers

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^ Must say.. that is quite vigorously and eloquently put. Agreeing with most of it helps too. :)

Seriously - We all have opinions, but I like the almost thesis like, the sub context or whatever, the view on the big picture development long term and what have you, that I think I can discern in various posts of yours lately. I like big thinking, theories well argued, as it were.

ITGWO found him arriving at the point where he had fully integrated his new abilities into his system.

That, for example, is a way to put it that'd never occured to me. That is, I known it to be true to some extent, or from certain angles, but still.. That's some great fascinating wording, and a very interesting way to put it, in terms of what the 90s onwards was to become.

Keep it coming. We need more of the kind.

 

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ITGWO found him arriving at the point where he had fully integrated his new abilities into his system. Maybe that's why he could throw the doors wide open (no pun intended... but maybe things are connected here).

I don't know.  Well, actually that's a good point about "fully integrated." But...for me, there's a good chunk of songs that don't work and I wonder if I'd like them more had there been less Lynne influence and more Lynch influence. I just realized, those last names are quite similar...synchronicity, perhaps? 

 

Edited by MaryJanes2ndLastDance

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I always liked the Orion's belt line in Dark of the Sun but, much like Kings Highway, it just doesn't work musically and is also a tune where the Jeff approach (tm Shelter) is really evident. It's uptempo but a bit too twee for me; like Jeff was trying to reconstruct Penny Lane through the Heartbreakers and failing both at the same time.

However, the songs that work are quite good. Have they written another song as heavy and powerful as All or Nothin'? That's a wall of guitars, no a wave of guitars washing over the listener; right from the beginning, there's such a powerful groove to the song. I'm assuming Jeff had a hand in the finished version. And without him, no Full Moon Fever...! 

Tom's said it, others have observed it but ITGWO was really an attempt to mesh Jeff and the Heartbreakers and when it worked, it was great and when it didn't it was bland...and unfortunately not a good time for the band.

Per usual, what's great or bland (and anywhere in between) differs wildly for everyone!

cheers

Edited by MaryJanes2ndLastDance

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But...for me, there's a good chunk of songs that don't work and I wonder if I'd like them more had there been less Lynne influence and more Lynch influence.

 

Well, that's the one point I would change, if I could... Stan's drumming. They could have let him cut loose a little bit more, definitely. Especially on the rockers.

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Well, that's the one point I would change, if I could... Stan's drumming. They could have let him cut loose a little bit more, definitely. Especially on the rockers.

I think Jeff's production approach of tracking one instrument at a time precludes letting the drums cut loose.

I love this album, though I'm not crazy about the title track and, yes, King's Highway should have been recorded acoustically in the vein of Alright For Now.  

All Or Nothin' is an overlooked masterpiece. -- one of Mike's greatest moments on slide guitar.

The biggest mistake may have been not using Benmont more on acoustic piano.  His percussive piano playing really works on, just for example, the live 1991-92 version of "Learning To Fly."  On the album, he is hardly used at all.

In the end, it's sort of halfway between a Tom solo album and a Heartbrakers album but, in any case, I think it's great.

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