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Highway Companion the great lost opportunity!

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Revisited Highway Companion today, listened to the whole album and it struck me quite strongly that there were some great raw ingredients to work with to make a great album. Tom was on fire with the lyrics in most if not all the songs, the core of the songs themselves were solid and indeed mostly very strong. I rated it the worst of the albums released in relative to all the others in another thread, as did many others.

 

So what went wrong with the album? As I see it, it was a mistake to make this as a solo Tom Petty record. It was a mistake to have Jeff Lynne as producer with the sterile 'by numbers' production approach and most especially that annoying acoustic guitar strumming through nearly every track and the clausterphobic no breathing space layers....don't get me started on that again. :) 

 

Imagine if the likes of Rick Rubin was producing the album with all the Heartbreakers involved and this album could have been better that Full Moon Fever & Into The Great Wide Open...and would have given Wildflowers a good run for it's money in my view. The raw material in the songs is definitely there and very strong if a rock and roll band approach is adopted (who better to rock and roll than The Heartbreakers after all) and a producer to draw out the harder edge in the songs....if the producer did nothing more than smashing the acoustic guitar against the wall and banning it from being used on the album, then that alone would have made the album better and more interesting and less formulaic. 

 

If you don't believe me, listen to the album again and block out Jeff Lynnes studio blueprint, (if you can actually manage to block out Jeffs production without losing your mind in the process) use your imagination...channel Rick Rubins approach on Echo, She's The One, and Wildflowers and you have a hell of a better album.  Glyn Johns would be another who would have been an interesting producer....hopefully he produces the next album by the way.

 

A lot of those songs need a hell of a lot more electric guitar bite....Golden Rose is a perfect example of this.

 

And again, as always want to be clear that this is not a personal attack on Jeff Lynne...I love what he does with ELO and Paul McCartney's Flaming Pie album.....just not my cup of tea producing Tom Petty and or The Heartbreakers.

 

Ah!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Can't get that acoustic guitar strumming out of my head now....

 

 

 

   

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First. Must say.. how much I enjoy when people share their thoughts on various TP matters like this! Not only is it very interesting to with different views and aspects, it is also the reason we are here, right. Kudos!

 

As for HC - I think what you say is most thoughtful and I quite agree! I often ponder what's "wrong" with it, myself, since, like you say, it's got so many qualities.

 

So what went wrong with the album? As I see it, it was a mistake to make this as a solo Tom Petty record. It was a mistake to have Jeff Lynne as producer with the sterile 'by numbers' production approach and most especially that annoying acoustic guitar strumming through nearly every track and the clausterphobic no breathing space layers....don't get me started on that again. :)

As for JL - I personally feel, unlike you apparently, that HC is among his best ever work as a producer. I feel that he really tries hard to stretch and relinquish this "blueprint" of his that you mention. Not that he manages to in cognito himself much, really - granted, you can still hear the "specs:ed plastic bear" loud and clear, but I really feel he tries and that he's giving it a serious go to serve the songs here. That deserves some credit. But, and I know I've said as much before, and where better repeating myself, right: Even if HC, to me, is one of JL's finest moment, this does not automatically mean it's one of TP's finest moments.

And I agree - it is, for starters - easy to imagine a much better sounding HC, had it been more of a band effort. One need not go as far as Rubin, I think. Been there, done that. But I can clearly see how much of HC would have been quite violently improved - even legendary - with more of a Mojo approach to the recording sessions. While a song like Square One might be best off left as is - quite lovely - just imagine how some of the different Mojo sounds (Good Enough, Trip To Pirate's and so on) would work wonders with most of the rest of HC. A First Flash of Freedom type take on Golden Rose would be very interesting. In general, what's needed is more electric guitars, but also more intricate bass patterns as well as drumming.

So much for sound. As for material, I agree that the songs for most parts are stronger than it may seem. Of course, Jack is an aweful song - to decide in favor of Jack over Home is stupidity of epic proportions - but still. Saving Grace is also problematic to me. Not a horrible song but, like I've said elsewhere, it feels very much at odds in the vibe and mood context of HC. What's worse, starting off the album with it is a major sequencing offence in my book. Perhaps had the album been differently produced and had Grace been assigned another slot, it may well have worked better.

All in all, sequencing and production tend to obscure what could perhaps have been a great album. Perhaps in another world I would've loved all those songs as much in real life, as I do on paper. In this here world, what I'm left with is a quite charming Square One and decent attempts at Down South and Golden Rose.

This all goes to underline why it's a shame that not more of the HC material is attempted live.

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Forget about the sound, it's the songs that are terrible.

 

Yes, I can hear that Jeff Lynne acoustic guitar, ha ha ha, there it is. Oh and the drums from Into The Great Wide Open. I think Lynne's best work was on Full Moon Fever. This album reminds me of Wide Open, I guess.

 

But really, it's the songs that are the weakness. And the lack of more electric guitar as noted above. 

 

As an example, Ankle Deep has a nice little riff and some interesting parts that would've been vastly improved with the rest of the band playing, with electric guitars, (no acoustics) and a more rocking edge. It also goes on a bit too long.

 

Listening to some of this now, it's like they took all the songs I dislike from Into The Great Wide Open and used them as a template. That acoustic guitar and those drums...!

 

With this record, you get the bad production, the Lynne'd drums, and bland songwriting. 

 

I don't think improved production would've fixed this, but maybe having the rest of the band could've saved some of this.

 

I want to like Jack but it goes on too long and while there's nice playing going on in the song, I couldn't make it all the way through.

 

I almost feel like dollardime is totally wrong and then I hear the bridge of This Old Town and yeah, that's a good one and probably would've been improved with the rest of the band. Maybe even had been a new classic. That bridge is fantastic.

 

Maybe the band could've salvaged some of this but a lot of it is just terrible. Damaged by Love isn't very good, until you get to the solo, which is some nice tasteful playing. 

 

I don't think this album has a good core to build off of, it would require Dr. Frankenstein stitching. In my opinion.

 

However, I like Turn this Car Around, Big Weekend (the song perfectly matching its title) and Saving Grace. 

 

But the best thing is the album cover.

 

cheers

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I've mentioned this before too but regardless of whether you like Saving Grace or not, as an opening song it feels like a declaration of intent for the rest of the album. There's nothing else with that sense of speed and energy on there. If there is, and I missed it, kindly tell me!

 

Highway Companion is a more mellow, thoughtful release, Saving Grace is the black sheep. I like it, I'm glad it was released but I don't know if it fits on the album. Of course, I don't even know where else you'd put it other than the beginning.

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This album was... so.. leth... ar... gic.  That said, there are a couple good songs in there: Flirting With Time, Saving Grace, Turn This Car Around.

 

Home and Around the Roses from the special edition of the album should have replaced a couple of the weaker tracks IMO.

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HC is one of my favorite TP albums. I like it when he puts his oh so great r'n'r band aside and explores his singer/songwriter-side. That's how this album should be judged, I guess, and not as a band effort, which it clearly is not and is not even pretending to be. It goes under Petty's own name, no HBs on the cover. It's just another aspect of Petty's work. Sometimes I get the feeling some people want to hear the same band record over and over again with no space for exploration of different sonic territories.

 

I said it many times, but I'll be more than glad to repeat myself, at least for the ones not already getting tired of my raving about the album: I really think it's one of Petty's strongest  songwriting efforts. Why? He manages to create short, catchy songs with clever and imaginative lyrics with just a handful of chord changes underneath and carried by memorable melodies. That's a craft as well as an art form, and it's far more difficult than letting a bunch of really good musicians jam over a half-assed sketch of what could have become a real song (parts of Mojo, parts of Hypnotic Eye).

 

I just can't for the life of me see/hear what's wrong with the Lynne sound onb this one. The acoustic guitars sound like acoustic guitars and the drums sound like drums. Had he used his Ovation like he did in ELO, I could see the point (those things have a dreadful sound to my ears). But those are properly mic'd, decently mixed acoustics on HC. Plus the predominant use of acoustics lets Campbell's electric slide solos shine all the brighter.

 

Home and Around The Roses should have been on the album, agreed on that.

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HC is one of my favorite TP albums. I like it when he puts his oh so great r'n'r band aside and explores his singer/songwriter-side. That's how this album should be judged, I guess, and not as a band effort, which it clearly is not and is not even pretending to be. It goes under Petty's own name, no HBs on the cover. It's just another aspect of Petty's work. Sometimes I get the feeling some people want to hear the same band record over and over again with no space for exploration of different sonic territories.

 

 Two examples of his singer/songwriter side that I enjoy are Alright for Now and Don't Fade On Me. The songs on Highway Companion don't come near either of those for me. I generally dislike when artists venture into "singer/songwriter mode" because the songwriting isn't as good but it's something that most rock musicians end up doing at one point or another, putting aside the electric and getting more serious. The problem is, that often these songs just aren't very good. If you take the Waiting and reduce to acoustic guitar and Tom, it'll still be good, because the foundation is solid; but much of Highway Companion isn't.

 

Even when I dislike the results, I respect an artist's decision to go off the beaten path.

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I said it many times, but I'll be more than glad to repeat myself, at least for the ones not already getting tired of my raving about the album: I really think it's one of Petty's strongest  songwriting efforts.

 

 Ha ha, I don't know if a week (a week? try a day...!) goes by where I don't offer some variation of my set list complaint, so not only do I not think you're repeating yourself, it's interesting to read. Especially since Highway Companion is your favorite album. Your different take is interesting. What do you think of Saving Grace on the record? It doesn't really fall into the "singer/songwriter" camp; do you think it fits the flow of the album, one of the brief spikes in tempo on the record or do you not care, if it's a good song, it's a good song?

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 That's a craft as well as an art form, and it's far more difficult than letting a bunch of really good musicians jam over a half-assed sketch of what could have become a real song (parts of Mojo, parts of Hypnotic Eye).

 

 

 I don't know about Mojo but I disagree with your assessment of Hypnotic Eye. The songs seem really tight to me, each part doing something specific to serve the song. When I hear the album, I don't really get a jamming feel. The only song that comes closest would be Shadow People and that felt more like, let's stretch it out a bit because it feels right.

 

 TPATH are one band that seem to have been pretty consistent over the years with their songwriting. I think Hypnotic Eye's songs are just as well made as anything off Damn the Torpedoes. I'm speaking only of the craft, not the perceived quality, here. 

 

Mojo would seem to be the one truly odd record out in that it seems like part of the ethos of making that was allowing Mike space to jam out.

 

cheers

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I just can't for the life of me see/hear what's wrong with the Lynne sound onb this one. The acoustic guitars sound like acoustic guitars and the drums sound like drums. Had he used his Ovation like he did in ELO, I could see the point (those things have a dreadful sound to my ears). But those are properly mic'd, decently mixed acoustics on HC. Plus the predominant use of acoustics lets Campbell's electric slide solos shine all the brighter.

 

 My impression:

 

 The acoustic guitar has a sound that is in (nearly?) every song, it stands out in a way that makes the songs seem similar to each other in a not flattering way. I'm sure someone else can explain that better than I just did. It's like a slice of white bread with every meal. Hey! This tastes good next to a plate of farfalle in red sauce, but not so much with these bean burritos. And here's another slice of white bread with your sundae. And here's some with your after-dinner mint...

 

Regarding the drums, I never really noticed till I did a quick comparison with Great Wide Open. On a lot of Highway Companion they sound very plastic. Not enough warmth in the sound for my taste; they feel covered in a sweet glaze that muffles or removes the individual distinctive edges that each musician brings to the table, be it Stan, an expert on the drums, or Tom, a novice.

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I would certainly agree that there should not be a rule set in stone that every time Tom goes to the studio to record an album that the Heartbreakers have to be there with him, just most times!  Equally though, there should not be a rule set in stone that Jeff Lynne always has to be the producer for solo Tom Petty material. :) 

 

By point of reference and comparision I've just listened to album title track from Wildflowers Only A Broken Heart and Don't Fade On Me.....similiar acoustic guitar introspective singer song writer type songs to the HC material. After listening to HC the difference is amazing. The production sound on the Wildflowers tracks has plenty of open spaces and air that lets the songs breathe and lacks the suffocating 'cover all layers on the sound board/leave no breathing space' approach on HC. It's just a much easier listen in my view from a production sound point to my ears.

 

Making an exception...........I do think the production on Square One from HC fitted the song excellently, what a beautiful song that is too by the way.

 

So for me at least, it's not a question of storming the barricades in righteous indignation if Tom decides to do a solo acoustic based album, but it would be interesting to see a different producer in the control room for such a project in the future. 

 

Variety is indeed the spice of life!

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 Ha ha, I don't know if a week (a week? try a day...!) goes by where I don't offer some variation of my set list complaint, so not only do I not think you're repeating yourself, it's interesting to read. Especially since Highway Companion is your favorite album. Your different take is interesting. What do you think of Saving Grace on the record? It doesn't really fall into the "singer/songwriter" camp; do you think it fits the flow of the album, one of the brief spikes in tempo on the record or do you not care, if it's a good song, it's a good song?

Well, it's not exactly my favorite album, but among my favorites (no. 1 Wildflowers, no. 2 ITGWO, no. 3 HC... so I'm more into the mellower Petty mode than most, probably).  :)  But thanks for letting me beat my drum once more!  :lol: Anyway, Saving Grace is a great song, and I like the production they did to it. Especially this staccato percussion sound that lends the song a specific characteristic. The tempo could be a tad faster, though; I like the live version they did at the Anniversary Show. Same goes for Down South, by the way. But I don't think it harms the flow of the album, even if it's a completely different pace than the rest. It stands, in my opinion, in a long tradition of album openers like Paul Simon's Kodachrome, Late in The Evening or Mother And Child Reunion. These are songs that do not necessarily represent their respective albums, but they kick the doors open wide and make you more receptive, maybe, for the stuff that follows.

Plus the sound ties the songs together in a pretty good way. See, one man's coffee etc., because what drives you nuts about the guitar sound being the same in every song (a point I can understand, we discuss this in my little band often enough... I'm always saying we need the sounds of the instruments to repeat from song to song so we can get a cohesive feel to the album, while some of the others mostly feel we need different sounds every time to match the respective style of the song... same as our discussion here!  :lol: ) is the very same thing that I like about it... it ties everything together. But of course this can be seen from different angles! I can see now what you don't like about it. Thanks to your - very good - examples. But food is something different from albums. If you listen to other albums, there's always a guitar that's in every song, the same drum sound in every song or something like that, at least some ingredients that sound the same across all songs. But of course there are no rules. Just preferences.

 

As far as the songwriting is concerned, we also seem to have totally different preferences. But, like dollardime said above: Variety is the spice of life!  :) 

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I would certainly agree that there should not be a rule set in stone that every time Tom goes to the studio to record an album that the Heartbreakers have to be there with him, just most times!  Equally though, there should not be a rule set in stone that Jeff Lynne always has to be the producer for solo Tom Petty material. :)

 

Well, Rick Rubin is the obvious exception to that rule with Wildflowers.

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Well, Rick Rubin is the obvious exception to that rule with Wildflowers.

 

Oh I know, that's why I made the comparison between the two producer styles on Wildflowers & Highway Companion. I would have been more than happy if Rick Rubin produced Full Moon Fever. ITGWO, and Highway Companion as well.

 

Although, apparently Rick Rubin loved Full Moon Fever as an album and he is seen on the RDAD documentary saying that he constantly played Full Moon Fever and it was his go to record of choice to play for himself for an extended period of time. So maybe Jeff Lynne did indeed play an important part in Rick Rubin becoming a producer for Tom Petty.

 

Looks like things have come full circle on this thread. I'll leave you with this food for thought!  :D 

 

Me: Can you pass the sauce please Jeff.

Jeff: Certainly, there you go.

Me: Do you not have any brown sauce instead?

Jeff: Sorry, I only do red sauce.

Me: Not to worry Jeff, I'll pick up some brown sauce from Rubin's on my way back. Do you want me to get you anything while I'm there?

Jeff: No thanks, I've got enough red sauce to do me here for a good while yet.

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Sometimes I get the feeling some people want to hear the same band record over and over again with no space for exploration of different sonic territories.

Yeah.. :) I see how it could seem that way.

But, for starters, I agree with most all dollardime said in post #15.

In addition to that I like to underline how, yes, I personally tend to prefer the dynamics of band collaborative recordings over copy-paste studio type art (people singing harmonies with themselves and that school of thought). However, that is not always the case. The end result is what Counts. There is plenty of good both minimalistic and synthetic music out there.

And as far as TP's songwriting in general and HC specifically goes, I don't think it would have benefited at all from more "band" in a rocking sense for example (on the contrary, I already said that I find the semi-rocker Saving Grace to be one too many depending on context.. although I really find your Paul Simon analogy quite thoughful and interesting, by the way. Good, very good!). I just think the songs, as they stand, as I hear them, would have been better served by more of a dynamic and organic band sound. Like has been said - the one song that stands out as perfect as is, is Sq One.

Besides.. speaking of "over and over.." Look no further than a defender of Jeff Lynne to wave the exploration of new sonic territories flag. :D I'd say that very few producers know their ways around their own worn pockets as well as the Jeff Lynne type "explorer". No one would be happier than me if TP - with or without the Heartbreakers - explored new grounds. As far as HC goes, I hear a narrower and demo flavored take of what he already set out to do with Wildflowers, or a slightly pouting, mature or "deeper" take of what on Full Moon Fevers came across as fairly vivid and playful.. Let's call it a bit sonically claustrofobic.. which I find to be too bad on some of those songs.

Yes.. we can all probably agree on many things here, just not always on what to make of it and how much to like it and so on.. Fair enough. Like has been said, that is part of the fun!

 

He manages to create short, catchy songs with clever and imaginative lyrics with just a handful of chord changes underneath and carried by memorable melodies. That's a craft as well as an art form, and it's far more difficult than letting a bunch of really good musicians jam over a half-assed sketch of what could have become a real song (parts of Mojo, parts of Hypnotic Eye).

Ouch..! :D ! That is.. Ok.. Really? The material.. is half-assed?! And the recordings in terms of the band's contributions and RU's additions in the production.. as "jamming", implied careless, or left-handed, am I to understand? I don't know.. This is rich.. Although, I enjoy your way with words!

Personally, I hear as many highly skilled compositions, thought through ideas, realized and well worked, multilayered productions (of course!) on Mojo and Hypnotic Eye, and lots of great lyrics too, as I do on HC. Is it really how a song/album is produced then, that decide if you like the songwriting craft behind it? If it is to be taken seriously? You really think HC songs are of a higher art value, or "more difficult" to create..? (You mean it's more difficult working with Jeff, right??) Help me understad this part of the argument!

And -- before I have to answer my own questions here.. I already said how much I like the songwriting on HC, both compositions and lyrics, and I see that side of your love for it. To me that is not what ails it, really. I wouldn't even call what I don't like about it - the production, that is - "half-assed". I'm sure it's very serious work. I just think it's misapplied. Again - too bad on some of those songs.

Full circle, you say..? :)

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I'll try to make this short. :)

  1. The "new sonic territories" argument: True, Jeff Lynne tends to use the same techniques every time he produces someone. But, firstly, that's what every producer does because that's the reason people want to work with them: Because they want a certain Sound (think Rick Rubin). And, secondly, within the confines of his abilities he manages to pull off a variety of sonic styles. Full Moon Fever does not sound like ITGWO and HC. The differences are in the details. Both FMF and HC are more stripped-down in their arrangements, HC makes less use of reverb than the other two, uses keyboards more carefully and is more acoustic-guitar-based than the others. And while working with Jeff Lynne again was more for the sheer fun of it than for the sake of exploring new territories, Tom did not make FMF 2 or ITGWO 2. Plus it was a clear departure from the productions of his previous records which were band-oriented and self-produced (with a little help from Rick Rubin and George Drakoulias... but nobody ever mentions The Last DJ being painfully compressed). What I meant was: Everytime Jeff Lynne steps in and tames the holy Heartbreakers, people get annoyed.
  2. The songwriting material Argument: I really do think it is safe to say that especially on Mojo and - to a lesser degree - on Hypnotic Eye the focus is more on the band's ability to play than on Petty's solo albums (sounds reasonable, doesn't it?). What happened on Mojo was, Petty wrote entire songs or at least parts of them in the studio (clubhouse) to match the way the band played or to develop on riffs or other musical ideas they came up with while jamming. That process leads to a higher emphasis on band interplay while songwriting becomes less important. Because it is the very point of the whole thing! Petty came out of the whole 30th Anniversary thing and once more became aware of what a great band he has, so why not give them a little more to do on the next record? Perfectly justified. But not how I like my records. :lol:
    So, no, it's not the production that is my criterion for whether I like the songwriting or not (I find that comment close to insulting, by the way). It's the songwriting. On Hypnotic Eye, I just don't like the styles he writes in. That bluesy stuff or blues-rock stuff... that's just not for me. There are only very few bands who can do that well, and Petty is so much better at writing elaborate melodies and harmonies. So, in a way, for me Hypnotic Eye is a case of lost opportunity.

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Oh, please don’t be almost offended (or offended for real, for that matter)! I mean no harm and this discussion, like most around here is just in good fun. I just – and in all sincerity, forgive me if I’m daft - wanted you to expand a bit on how the HC type material was to be understood as more difficult to write, or implied as being of an higher artistic order than that of Mojo or HE. And so you did, thank you! I think it’s plain to see that your songwriting angle and my sonic angle have been tangled up a bit during the cause of the discussion - at least in my mind - so I’ll try to untangle some of it, in it’s different parts..

 

(sounds reasonable, doesn't it?)

 

Yes it does! It’s all very reasonable actually, all fine and fair enough. I can appreciate and share a lot of your sentiments. I just couldn’t help playing silly with the “new sonic territories" argument – I know where it's at, and somewhere, despite not sharing views on the example Jeff - I really think we agree on a lot on that one. That is, variation is fun (I think most of what I’ve written on the subject of TP, reeks of such notions) The Heartbreakers brand is less important. Thus far agreed. Sure, in rock’n’roll – as in TP type material – I might enjoy organically (tense perhaps, living..) sounding recordings over artificially flavored ones (generally speaking). But that’s not to be equaled with the “holy Heartbreakers” band approach you mention, thank you. That’s not what I meant when taking issues with HC from a sound angle. I really don't need it to be a Heartbreakers album, rather than a "solo" album. I could't care less. It's all in the sound, what it feels like. I don’t mind what TP call any of his albums and from what I gather neither do you. Good then.

 

Another point of agreement: Sure.. large parts of DJ is up for debate – both in terms of finishing studio touches and in terms of material as I see it. But again.. none of that – I think we both would agree – we would have been regarded differently had LDJ been labeled a TP solo album (which in some ways – other discussion – it perhaps should’ve been.) It could have sounded better, period. (Kinda exactly like I view HC, only HC got better songs on total/average, which makes it even more frustrating.) 

So. I’m not sure, but maybe that goes somewhere towards exploring/explaining what I mean - being at odds with a notion that it’s supposedly harder to write material intended for a (largely studio made, largely copy, paste processed, controlled) solo album, where the songs then supposedly are more PRIOR to the music (very philosphical this :) ) than a band oriented (largely collaborative and actually played, sometimes chaotic) recording, where the songs then is SECONDARY to the music, fitted unto the jam, Well, perhaps.. I don't think so.

 

Well, I can certainly agree it's different methods/processes of writing probably, having a solo album or a band album in mind. But I suppose it's only true in the same way as it would be different depending on if you have a low-key or ultra-produced record in mind, if you are gonna work with Jeff or Rick or someone else, if you are newly divorced and so on.. Every context, personal issue, era in time, and so on.. provide different back-drops and challenges, I'm sure. Put that being said, always assumed that the craft of writing a song came first, fitting the sounds and vibes, arranging and rearranging came first. (Although I bet they are intertwined a lot of the time!) 

 

There are so many ways in, and purposes for, writing a song, I guess. More likely than not, writing will end in various and different results, depending on the different methods and goals and contexts – and here we are, talking about such things – but what I'm trying to get at.. not to offend you in any way, is that to me.. I am not that sure that writing songs for/with a band automatically means pre-adjusting the songwriting after-a-fact, to what the band already is doing. My view was that it is rather about having the band play their take on the song you just wrote, adding their flavours, then to edit, cut or recut, perhaps..  or if they nail it - leave it. 

 

In other words, I don't think the actual resulting quality (or the difficultuy rate) of writing in a song is that easy to trace to the intent and/or surroundings of its’ origin. It may all be great and it may all be less great. The STYLE might be traceble, due to many things, and I very much respect if you don't like the more rocking sides of TP songwriting! Of course! 

But in terms of "quality" or difficulty rate of the craft, if anything, I’m fairly certain that TP always (I should, in the face of certain bits of proof, probably say almost always) aims for the best, despite sometimes suggesting how some of his best songs ever (both solo and band in label) more or less wrote themselves, like from divine intervention - I’m sure that he is a very competent, professional and more over very serious song writer, letting lose all of his songwriting abilities and giving it his very best every time. At times I suppose the result can be half-assed, but I very much doubt that the writing and creative process, what you enter the studio with or show the record label as your big plan, is half-assed in any way. I suspect that at all times it’s rather “This is what I want to say right now, what I want to do, at the best of my abilities!” There’s really no point in doing it otherwise.

As a side note - I can’t believe I find myself arguing in defense of Mojo in this thread :D A mess of an album that I don’t hold in very high regard, in many ways. I can agree there are as many – if not indeed more, sure, why not - really good songs on HC as there is on Mojo, but since I raising issues with HC from a sonic point of view, I think big chunks of Mojo – not all of it! – sounds better than HC, and that I personally think that some of the theoretically great HC material would have been better served sounding a bit more like Mojo, that’s all (much like Mojo, would’ve benefited from being half as long as it is, or carrying more material of the HC standard).

But back to topic. Classic deeds, as well ass accidents happen, even to great songwriters. And they happen with or without the band environment, as I see it. As far as accidents go, I don’t consider Jack a more beautiful or classy accident than say Candy.

 

I like to underline that I find TP to be a full blown creative mastermind of songwriting – perhaps especially when it comes to lyrics and to bridges (middle eights? – how about that perspective on HC?). And to the extent that he “fails”, I don’t think such “failures” are due to the context in which it’s written (I’ve often mentioned how that age old solo vs band distinction is somewhat lost on me, anyway.. if FMF is less of a HB connected album than say SA or ITGWO in other ways than the title..). To me all these different sides and aspects of TP songwriting generally work, and all of them occasionally (rarely) fall on their *ss too. Shit happens.

 

And that is a lot of words to conclude what we both know – that the penned material on HC are great stuff (no matter the reason for such greatness). Then, let’s better agree to disagree when it comes to what is made of that great material in terms of sound (with or without a “band”, as such) and how well that works according to taste.

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^ Uh.. Sorry for some really sloppy writing.. Should've tried to boil it down some, I guess.. ;) Instead I went for speed and energy..

Put that being said, always assumed that the craft of writing a song came first, fitting the sounds and vibes, arranging and rearranging came first. (Although I bet they are intertwined a lot of the time!)

Let me rephrase that embarrasing piece of..

"But, that being said, I always viewed the craft of songwriting as primary, and the fitting of sounds, jams, vibes, arrangements to that song as secondary - not the other way around. (Although I bet that they are oftentimes intertwined and integral.)

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And that is a lot of words to conclude what we both know – that the penned material on HC are great stuff (no matter the reason for such greatness). Then, let’s better agree to disagree when it comes to what is made of that great material in terms of sound (with or without a “band”, as such) and how well that works according to taste.

That's probably a good point to boil our discussion down to. Thank you!  :) And no offence taken on the sound-songwriting-mixup.

You once found the - in my mind - perfect description for Lynne's sound, especially on HC: perfect demos. And one can either love that or... well, not.

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On May 12, 2015 at 6:09 AM, Shelter said:

Saving Grace is also problematic to me. Not a horrible song but, like I've said elsewhere, it feels very much at odds in the vibe and mood context of HC.

 
Leaving aside the merits of the song itself and its position on this record...is there another album this could fit on as recorded?
 
While I'd enjoy another fast paced song on Hypnotic Eye, I'm pretty happy with how that record is, though I guess one could put it right either before U Get Me High or Shadow People.
 
The only other album that comes to mind is Mojo though it sounds quite different from the songs on that record.
 
Thoughts? What does everyone else think?

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On May 16, 2015 at 7:35 PM, jtx84 said:

...Around the Roses from the special edition of the album should have replaced a couple of the weaker tracks IMO.

I just heard this for the first time, all this talk of unreleased material, American Treasure and such had me looking for some online booty (musical booty) and I heard this. Quite the song! Catchy, wistful...great all around. I really like it. If you haven't heard it give it a listen, a quick search on youtube and you'll be enjoying it as well.

cheers

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