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ECHO - the most real, honest, genuine heartfelt album.

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I love Echo too. Guess you have to have gone through a similar event in your own life to get it. Don't listen to it regularly. I save it for times when I need a little cathartic therapy and listen from start to finish. It is a very raw and deep album. It seems to give my soul a cleansing.

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I'm a big fan of Echo. I rate it as the best TPATHB album. --- I would also rate it the most true and genuine Heartbreakers record --- I think it is also a very brave record --- rooted in a genuine human place --- There is a rare honesty and believability in this album. --- I love this album, I don't see it as a depressing album --- The honesty transcends into a bigger picture for those who refuse to surrender heart and soul. --- My most treasured studio album!

Ok, wow. But why not. There are times when I think those things you say are pretty accurate. (I mean, of course they are accurate... To you. I mean accurate the me way. :) ) Only, those aspects, to my mind, are mostly.. eh.. just in my mind. That is, at least theoretically I think you might be right. It is honest, it is genuine. Still......

You can't program and create these emotions in the studio, luckily Rick Rubin was there and able to just record them and recognise what was happening naturally and organically. a rare skill in and of itself for any producer to be able to recognise what is happening naturally without artificial interferance.

I couldn't agree more. Well put. That is always the case, and seems to be all the more important for an album of Echo's gravity. It's just that to me Rubin and TP only succeeds at.. if I was forced to give a figure.. let's say a 75% rate with Echo.

To specify, I think there might be a case made that Rubin's contributions here are as fair to the material's sentiments as ever. However, I'm not sure this famous lack of "artificial interferance" mentioned, are any more "real" or "raw" on Echo than it is on say Wildflowers. I think all that is in your deep reading of the album lyrics. If anything, I feel that Echo - aside from the actual arrangements and production, that sure has some merits (as being at the same time both richer and rawer, so to speak, than Wildflowers) - still sounds too compressed and.. depressed. That is, the songs are not depressing, you are right, the best of them are beautiful and real heavy human stuff, but to me they s-o-u-n-d depressing, technically. It's not that the heartbreak, despare and loss are so painful, it's the actual tone and ring that occasionally seeps through some of these songs, that's got an almost sour, saturated quality to it at times. (I might be an army of one in thinking that it sounds like TP even sings out of key a few times on this album.) All this makes Echo THE album in the catalog that I'm most eager to hear in a fullstudio sound experience. I do have a feeling that's what's on the CD and even on the LP in this case, is miles subpar to what's really there.

As for TP's part in things, I think he really wrote some raw and painfully true stuff here. But not only did he write some filler as well, he let them on the album rather than keeping it a more striking 50 minutes experience. One of the best things he wrote for the album - Sweet William - didn't fit the album, and he wisely left it off. Others a lot lesser songs weren't treated as wisely.

In short, as far as TP and Rubin goes, between 1994's Wildflowers and 1999's Echo, I'd say they did their most genius, their most pure, human, true and raw music on their 1996 Unchained LP for Johnny Cash. An album sounding a bit more like an enhanced Unchained and getting a bit of a slim treatment by cutting out some fillers and putting more focus on the core material, would take that "honesty and believability", key to an album like this, even further, imo.

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 I don't see it as a depressing album as some would label it as, hey even the band itself are wrong in rating it as that by all accounts. The honesty transcends into a bigger picture for those who refuse to surrender heart and soul.

 

  

 I think the depressing reputation comes from three things:

 

1) The cover. I don't think the effect of album artwork can be underestimated. Yes, no one loves an album solely because of the cover or dislikes it for the same, but I think that the grim, gray photo is an early impression and colored (no pun intended) some listener's perception. Perhaps the title had an effect as well, an echo after all isn't a conversation and sets a somewhat sad pall over the proceedings before they've begun.

 

2) The songs. The emotional honesty you value are yoked to songs that are midtempo and I think that combo makes it feel like sad, somber effort. That's why Won't Last Long seems like such a blast of fresh air, see more below.

 

3) The history of its recording and the death of Howie Epstein. Sure, initial listeners weren't thinking about any of that but it's possible later ones have come to the record with this information in mind. Without a big radio hit to entice listeners, I think it has become a hardcore fan's album and it's possible they'll know some of the history of its recording before listening to a note. That would surely have an influence. Poor Howie Epstein. I understand the band not wanting to revisit this era.

 

 I'll end this post by saying that these are just speculations, they could be wildly off.

 

And even if all three were true, that doesn't diminish the album's impact for you or others who love it. Much like Southern Accents, or perhaps Wildflowers, I can understand why some love this record (or those) without sharing the same feelings myself.

 

From Conversations with Petty, this was the chickenshack album. Another reason why its songs were never performed much past this tour. Or at all, when I think about it, I don't know. But this isn't an opportunity for a set list rant.

 

And, despite it's sad/depressing rep, it does have Mike singing. Surely that's a fun moment that doesn't necessarily refute the depressing rep, but certainly  shows that not all is grim on this record, with this song and the defiant Won't Last Long.

 

That said, I do find it a bit of a sad and dour album.

 

cheers

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 That is, the songs are not depressing, you are right, the best of them are beautiful and real heavy human stuff, but to me they s-o-u-n-d depressing, technically. It's not that the heartbreak, despare and loss are so painful, it's the actual tone and ring that occasionally seeps through some of these songs, that's got an almost sour, saturated quality to it at times. (I might be an army of one in thinking that it sounds like TP even sings out of key a few times on this album.) All this makes Echo THE album in the catalog that I'm most eager to hear in a fullstudio sound experience. I do have a feeling that's what's on the CD and even on the LP in this case, is miles subpar to what's really there.

 

 

 

 

That's an interesting take. When I give Echo another go I'll see if I hear that but based on past listens, I don't agree with this at all. The album always sounded good to me. I may find the material downbeat but it comes across really well, instruments. Just as a test, I gave a quick listen to Lonsome Sundown. Whoa. Very sad song, I don't know if it hit me in the right mood but I wanted to fucking cry listening to it just now. 2:17 to 2:24 is quite moving and I love Tom's voice there with the sparse music.

 

Sad yes but it all sounds good, the drums, his voice, the piano...it sounds really crisp.

 

I gave Room at the Top another go as well. I like the gentle beginning, yet when the instruments kick in, well, that sounds good to me as well. Now, I don't know where this album ranks in the "Loudness Wars", that could have a negative impact on one's enjoyment of it for sure.

 

But as two isolated tracks, it sounds good. Not as good as Wildflowers though. That album has AMAZING production, the recording of each album giving it a warmth that I think could be the best in the entire discography. Behind Full Moon Fever of course.  :P

 

 

I do like this song more than in the past, I could see this one maybe getting played, it certainly would've fit with the Mojo material. Uh-oh, venturing too close to a set list rant.

 

Anyway, thus far, I like the recording of these songs and can perhaps hear a bit of, I don't know, too much sonic cluster (that's a scientific term!) on this song. Same with the song Echo that I have on in the background now. Maybe I can hear a bit of what you're saying. 

 

To further confound, is there an ideal recording, or even if there is, let's say it's Wildflowers, would every album be served if they sounded like that? Would we be getting TPATH at their most pure? Would it be better than each album having its own distinct sound and vibe, even if in some cases, it's not as good as others? 

 

To bring this back to your point (finally!) I think, as of right now, the songs sound good.

 

cheers

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Since this is a brand new Echo topic, where better than to post a bit on Rhino Skin?

 

Like It Ain't Nothin' To Me, Don't Come Around, Full Grown Boy and I'm sure there are others, Rhino Skin falls into what I consider the experimental songwriting of Tom's.

 

It doesn't sound like anything else they've done, the way it slowly builds, the mix of regret and defiance in the lyrics, "Elephant balls" sounds like a like that should've been a HUGE singalong in concert. The drums holding back before entering past the minute mark just adds to the wonderful tension of the song.

 

The song has such a great groove to it and I think Steve's drumming fits the mood perfectly. It doesn't really have a bridge, does it, just a long solo that leads to the outro, which is an interesting departure from most of TPATH's songs.

 

Rhino Skin takes a sad topic, the lament about toughening up to deal with the world and does it in a playful, groove oriented way that's unique.

 

cheers

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Mike nooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo.

:D

To further confound, is there an ideal recording, or even if there is, let's say it's Wildflowers, would every album be served if they sounded like that? Would we be getting TPATH at their most pure? Would it be better than each album having its own distinct sound and vibe, even if in some cases, it's not as good as others?

That is absurd. The world is full of useless bands making the same record over and over. To me it's obviously not only better, but essential, for bands to explore, to go places, for albums to have their "own distinct sound and vibe". At least to a degree. As for my ponderings about how this particular material perhaps would've been better served by a bit more of an Unchained touch, the "ideal recording" was not at all the dimension I was aiming for. Just to clearify. There's no such thing as an ideal album or an ideal method, it all depends on the material and the circumstances.

Besides - even if I can imagine ways to present the core of Echo even more effectively raw and human like that, and even if I would (and did) dispute the notion that Echo is such an unmatched masterpiece in terms of capturing "what was happening naturally and organically", my main concerns - again - are really none of that. It's the core vs filler quota and most of all it's the somewhat sour sound that is seemingly due to compression.

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That is absurd. The world is full of useless bands making the same record over and over. To me it's obviously not only better, but essential, for bands to explore, to go places, for albums to have their "own distinct sound and vibe". At least to a degree. As for my ponderings about how this particular material perhaps would've been better served by a bit more of an Unchained touch, the "ideal recording" was not at all the dimension I was aiming for. Just to clearify. There's no such thing as an ideal album or an ideal method, it all depends on the material and the circumstances.

Besides - even if I can imagine ways to present the core of Echo even more effectively raw and human like that, and even if I would (and did) dispute the notion that Echo is such an unmatched masterpiece in terms of capturing "what was happening naturally and organically", my main concerns - again - are really none of that. It's the core vs filler quota and most of all it's the somewhat sour sound that is seemingly due to compression.

 

 Don't hold back, tell me what you really think.

 

My point wasn't that the band should recreate the same album every time, but the simple 'what if' of a band having achieved the perfect studio situation and recording in that, let's say every album having the sonic clarity of Wildflowers. It was a bit of fun that I think you took and responded to much too seriously.

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Besides - even if I can imagine ways to present the core of Echo even more effectively raw and human like that, and even if I would (and did) dispute the notion that Echo is such an unmatched masterpiece in terms of capturing "what was happening naturally and organically", my main concerns - again - are really none of that. It's the core vs filler quota and most of all it's the somewhat sour sound that is seemingly due to compression.

 

 I understood, but I don't hear it, let alone it doesn't sound sour to me. The core vs. filler is something that has been a factor in most of Tom's songwriting, for me.

 

cheers

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I love the "Echo" album - including "I Don't Wanna Fight".  It's a fun song to play on guitar.  Does anyone remember the contest they had a while back for the best cover song?  I think the winner was a bluegrass version of "I Don't Wanna Fight", wasn't it?

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Don't hold back, tell me what you really think.

Holding back? Not my forte.. :D

My point wasn't that the band should recreate the same album every time, but the simple 'what if' of a band having achieved the perfect studio situation and recording in that, let's say every album having the sonic clarity of Wildflowers. It was a bit of fun that I think you took and responded to much too seriously.

Well.. perhaps another case of misreading. Since I thought that what I wrote could be read (and justly should be so) as if Unchained carries a better out sound profile for the Echo material, I just wanted to make clear - in the view of your "further confounding" there - that I meant what I wrote only with regards to this material. Not that the "Unchained sound" would be optimal for anything they do. (However if they had to choose one sound and stick to it, Unchained could be a good choice, imo.) That's all.

I did not mean to specify this in a manner that seemed harsh or "overly serious" to you. Sorry, if you took it that way. If my "absurd" remark hurt your feelings, don't feel bad. Coming from me, that is more like praise! Remember, there is always a tinge of the unserious in everything I do or say. Call it survival instinct. Anyway.. no hard feelings. I's just answering what you were asking, if rhetorically so, that I just don't think there's no such thing as an "ideal recording". It's fun, it's serious. :) Peace, man.

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I really like Echo too. I think "I don't wanna fight" is a fun song. Obviously not as deep as some, but still a good song, just rock with a really great beat. I agree that it might be considered depressing to some based on the cover photo and the timing of Howie's death. But I do listen to it often and really enjoyed the tour supporting it. Some of my fondest concert experiences were on that tour including my first show at the Fillmore, meeting one of my now best friends before a show and getting my first guitar pick. What a great memories. :)

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That's a good story, Babydoll.

 

I think the tour was pretty good, it had that great surf instrumental by Mike, the really good intro to Don't Come Around, the show didn't end with American Girl, they played Jammin' Me, Heartbreaker's Beach Party, I much prefer the tour to the album. Heck, they even played  Rhino Skin a couple times...!

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Echo...

 

Well, Echo....

 

I remember first hearing Room at The Top and thinking: OMG, Tom's not in a very good place right now. Honest, I didn't know anything about the whole Howie tragedy going on at the time, or the divorce... I just could tell from the way he sang and from the way that song was written that Tom had entered a pretty dark place.

And the rest of the album was no different.

So, while there are more than a couple of great songs on the album I really like (Counting On You, Echo, Swingin', This One's For Me, Lonesome Sundown, Rhino Skin, Accused of Love) - I cannot listen to them in a row. As an album, it's simply too much. I wouldn't go as far as to say it's depressing for me, but more often than not, it is.

 

Shelter, I agree, Tom seems to sing out of tune sometimes.

 

I also have to agree with MJs2ndLD on the sound of Wildflowers, which is absolutely beyond compare for me. Still, I do think the sound of Echo, if not as great as that of Wildflowers, is good. We should not attribute it too much to Rubin, though. If I remember correctly he was not involved in the acutal production as much as he was on Wildflowers.

 

So... great songs, yes (though not all of them... again Shelter is right, Tom should have thrown out some of the filler material), and also a good sound... but Tom's vocal peformances and the overall mood of the songs to me are the sonic equivalent of a pale guy not being able to get up all day and outside it's raining and cold... maybe a dying tree in the yard. And that, I admit it, most of the time is too much for me.

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So... great songs, yes (though not all of them... again Shelter is right, Tom should have thrown out some of the filler material), and also a good sound... but Tom's vocal peformances and the overall mood of the songs to me are the sonic equivalent of a pale guy not being able to get up all day and outside it's raining and cold... maybe a dying tree in the yard. And that, I admit it, most of the time is too much for me.

 

     I understand how it can be too much, and I like the description with the dying tree.

 

  Interesting about Tom singing out of tune. Shelter's the first person to have mentioned that, I don't recall it showing up elsewhere and you agree. I probably won't notice but I think it's an interesting observation.

 

cheers

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  Interesting about Tom singing out of tune. Shelter's the first person to have mentioned that, I don't recall it showing up elsewhere and you agree. I probably won't notice but I think it's an interesting observation.

 

 

Yeah... I haven't heard it in a long time, but I remember several parts in Room At The Top, for instance, where he slides a little below the actual melody.

He also is a tiny little bit out of tune on Wake Up Time, now that we mention it.

Those things never really bothered me, though. His delivery seemed true and honest regardless of not being 100% (but "only" 99,3%) in tune.

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I love Echo too. Guess you have to have gone through a similar event in your own life to get it. Don't listen to it regularly. I save it for times when I need a little cathartic therapy and listen from start to finish. It is a very raw and deep album. It seems to give my soul a cleansing.

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Amber you took the words right out of my mouth. I feel exactly the same way about this album.

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Considering the title of the thread I must say (regardless of how I personally feel about the album): That may indeed be the case.

 

On the other hand... I've always heard Full Moon Fever and Wildflowers as extremely heartfelt, real and honest, too. But in the case of FMF in a happy way. ;) The history of how it all came together is so spontaneous and fun... writing songs one day, recording them in Mike's garage the next and mixing on the third... that's how music should be made (well, except for pi**ing off three fifths of your band).

Wildflowers deals with concerns of middle age, divorce, heartbreak, hope and having fun in a somewhat more serious, more mature way. And things like Wake Up Time, To Find a Friend, Good To Be King, Wildflowers, A Higher Place and Only a Broken Heart are as disarmingly honest and wistful as only few others in Petty's catalog. So, definitely a contender, I would say.

 

As a document of the band as a recording unit, though, Echo may indeed be the record.

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Considering the title of the thread I must say (regardless of how I personally feel about the album): That may indeed be the case.

 

On the other hand... I've always heard Full Moon Fever and Wildflowers as extremely heartfelt, real and honest, too. But in the case of FMF in a happy way. ;) The history of how it all came together is so spontaneous and fun... writing songs one day, recording them in Mike's garage the next and mixing on the third... that's how music should be made (well, except for pi**ing off three fifths of your band).

 

 You're absolutely right! Full Moon Fever is a happy album and the joy Tom and Mike and Jeff felt recording it comes through in each song. I think the most optimistic song is Runnin' Down A Dream, the heart of the album if you will.

 

And the album easily flows, one song to another.

 

cheers

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