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Wildflowers (the album) and a bunch of other stuff

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I don't know about Stan and that song. I kinda doubt it but if they did play the Viper Room around that time, maybe there's another Stan performance.

 I can enjoy the  instrumental outro of the song on live recordings, simply because it's something different to a lot of the standard songs I hear them play. But that's about it, never cared for the song.

I just read that in September 1994, before the Bridge Benefit, they played "You Don't Know How It Feels" on Letterman.  I remember seeing it the night it aired, and thinking that I didn't like the song.

On the Bridge Benfit verison, Stan let's Tom start the song with no drums and then brings in the drums later -- a better arrangement, I think.

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My take on Wildflowers is shockingly similar to that of MJ2LD.  And I thought I was the outlier on that album, since I have heard so much praise for it.  I agree that it's one of TP's 3 most important albums, the other two being DTT and FMF.  But try as I might over the years, I just haven't been able to like it, or to rank it any higher than the bottom quarter of TP's output.  I guess this album is much more polarizing than I realized.  It certainly marks a major change in TP/Heartbreaker music, as well as heralding a major departure from the band, Stan Lynch. 

I did actually hate the album and all it represented, for many years.  And I especially hated the song YDKHIF, only to see my grief compounded when YDKHIF went on to be a big hit, and the template for a lot of future TPATH music.   

Part of my initial dislike of the album was personal.  When the album was issued in November 1994 I was so excited to get it, I bought a copy the first week it was released.   The prior 12 months had been horrific for me personally, and I'm not using that word lightly.  Worst year for me ever, I won't go into detail but that time period was a series of disasters that cause me significant permanent injury and permanently disrupted my life.    So I felt I really "needed" a new TP album to cheer me up, and I figured it would, because Tom's lyrics expressed defiant optimism no matter what happened.    And of course TP/TPATH albums always had great, bright melodies, exciting rock and rolling, creative drumming, etc.  Was I ever shocked and disappointed when Wildflowers was not what I expected from this artist and band (and it is essentially a band album, minus Stan).   TP's belligerent defiance in the face of setbacks seemed to have turned to subdued acceptance and self-pity.   The music sounded sluggish and uninteresting to me.  The drumming was outright boring; I didn't even realize until after I'd played the album that Stan was not part of it. 

So ok, I didn't like the album, I was greatly disappointed that it wasn't going to lift my spirits, but at least I "knew" that it would be a massive flop, and that TP would retool and try again next time.  Instead, the album was a significant success, and worse yet - YDKHIF was the top hit from the album.   I didn't like YDKHIF for the boring pace and boring "thump thump thump" drumming, as MJ2LD has said himself.  I also didn't like the idea that TP/TPATH was now embraced as a "stoner band".   I wondered if YDKHIF was merely popular as a "stoner anthem" due to the "roll another joint" lyrics and plodding, repetitive pace, or whether there was more to the song than I realized.  Compounding the situation, Jerry Garcia died in 1995, ending the Grateful Dead and causing many Deadheads to flock to TPATH as "their" new band.  Now I respect what the Dead had done for improvisation, and I respect the Deadheads for their dedication to the music and bootlegs.  It's just not my kind of music.  I felt like TP was turning "my" band into something it never had been, in order to please the Deadhead fans.  And while no band had more dedicated followers  than the Grateful Dead, overall that band was never anywhere near as popular as TPATH.    It seemed to me that TP was changing to please a very active but smaller fan base.  Or maybe that's just where he wanted to take his music, and he didn't care about the size of the audience, as long as it found "some" audience.

Then when I realized that Stan was gone and not coming back, it gave me a new reason to hate the Wildflowers album.  The album coincided with Stan's departure, but I don't think it was mere coincidence.  I think that Stan didn't like the songs TP was creating, and in his usual way Stan let TP know about it.  I believe TP then decided to do the album without Stan, call it a "solo" album, and see if the market accepted it.   Because the album became very popular, TP decided he didn't need Stan, and Stan decided he didn't need that kind of music.  I'll always wonder what the band might have produced if Stan had remained, but we'll never know.  At any rate, the WF album meant no more Stan in the band, and that resulted in a significant decline in my enjoyment.   To be fair to Steve, I did think he was fantastic on "Hypnotic Eye", but that's the only post-ITGWO album where I didn't miss Stan's drumming. 

Thus the WF album represented the end of the type of music I loved, it represented the end of Stan's participation, and it coincided with the worst period of my life.  No wonder I hated it.  But was it really a bad album, or was I just disliking it for personal reasons.  Over the years I have listened again, trying to appreciate it.  Most of my original opinions still stand, but I have come to at least somewhat enjoy the title track (Wildflowers), Crawling Back to You, You Wreck Me, It's Good to Be King, and Time to Move on.  Even so, that's only 5/15 songs that I sort of like, and I consider all of them in the lower half of the entire TP song catalog.  Save for the live performances of You Wreck Me, which I do enjoy a lot. 

The rest, still not so much.  "To Find a Friend" sounds like a lesser version of JC Mellencamp's "Paper in Fire".  "Honey Bee" sounds like a retelling of the blues classic "I'm a King Bee" (a song TPATH covered in the 70's).  And so on.  Even if they didn't remind me of better-known songs, they simply weren't "good" songs.  Or more to the point, they weren't what I wanted from THIS band.  Fair or not, that's still my take on the WF album.      

At least I didn't turn the CD into a Frisbee, as I was tempted to do when I first bought it.  I appreciate that some people thinks it's awesome, so I respect that it must be well-crafted.  But that's as far as I can go.  The great thing is, we all have different favorites with this artist/band; some even rate WF as their favorite, and that's cool.  And we each may have positive - or negative - memories that we connect with a song or album, that may impact our thoughts about it.          

   

      

  

 

 

 

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3 hours ago, TheSameOldDrew said:

And I especially hated the song YDKHIF, only to see my grief compounded when YDKHIF went on to be a big hit, and the template for a lot of future TPATH music.   

 

Ha ha, I had to pause here, man, I still remember hearing that blandness across the radio and everyone responding to it! And then it hogging the 2nd spot in concerts for yeeeeears! Ha ha ha. I've softened on it since then, probably just accepted it and I do find Steven not playing any cymbals very very interesting but I can really relate to your reaction, ha ha ha!

cheers

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6 hours ago, TheSameOldDrew said:

The prior 12 months had been horrific for me personally, and I'm not using that word lightly.  Worst year for me ever, I won't go into detail but that time period was a series of disasters that cause me significant permanent injury and permanently disrupted my life. 

Sorry that you went through whatever you experienced but I'm glad your life has improved since then. I hope it did anyway, I don't want to be presumptuous.

As for your review, I think it was well written and your frisbee comment made me chuckle.

I do like the album more than you but for a long time, it also represented a change and in some ways, a dulling of the TPATH experience for me album wise. I did however, enjoy a concert from this tour and do think it could be the best recorded in terms of sound quality record they did; the instruments perfectly blended together.

But like you, this album was indeed a huge shift for TPATH, especially after the double-high of FMF and ITGWO.

Glad you shared your take and perhaps someone else will chime in to you blowing the dust off this older topic.

cheers

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Yeah, thanks for sharing! Interesting read and well formulated too. I too can relate to certain aspects of this, especially the Stan dimension.. (MJ2LD could direct you towards several archival topics and discussions on that. haha..)But I do dig more of the WF material and the production than you seems to. Agreed though that YDKHIF may be their most overrated cut ever. (Interesting aspects what with the Dead and all that , by the way.. let me come back on that in a bit...)

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MJ2LD, thanks so much for the links.  I especially like the discussions about why Stan parted company with the band (i.e. was fired), and Stan vs. Steve as a drummer and band member.  I'll add a comment or two to those at some point.   As a preview, I am nearly 100% in the Stan camp, save for Steve doing an awesome job on "Hypnotic Eye" and for playing "Free Fallin'" better than Stan live.  Both of those topics are always interesting to me.    

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On 8/17/2019 at 12:22 AM, TheSameOldDrew said:

 I also didn't like the idea that TP/TPATH was now embraced as a "stoner band".   I wondered if YDKHIF was merely popular as a "stoner anthem" due to the "roll another joint" lyrics and plodding, repetitive pace, or whether there was more to the song than I realized.  Compounding the situation, Jerry Garcia died in 1995, ending the Grateful Dead and causing many Deadheads to flock to TPATH as "their" new band.  Now I respect what the Dead had done for improvisation, and I respect the Deadheads for their dedication to the music and bootlegs.  It's just not my kind of music.  I felt like TP was turning "my" band into something it never had been, in order to please the Deadhead fans.  And while no band had more dedicated followers  than the Grateful Dead, overall that band was never anywhere near as popular as TPATH.    It seemed to me that TP was changing to please a very active but smaller fan base.  Or maybe that's just where he wanted to take his music, and he didn't care about the size of the audience, as long as it found "some" audience.

Yeah, about that.. I remember having similar thoughts back in the 90s, how that shift from the sunny FMF/ITGWO vibe to the... autumnal, hide-away, introvert and mildly trippy (what with the related rolled joints, winged dogs, girl on substances et al) was quite sudden and noticeble. Especially, my ears too had difficulites with Stan leaving. This change being so noticable though.. should probably be put in tons of context. So, this development with TP coincided (not totally by accident, that is) with the whole 80s paradigm of the lighthearted and largely superficial, if futuristic, having been rolling on overtime and fading for a few years already. The whole main stream rock critic and mass auduences - the general consensus, as it felt - had moved on, to the gritty and grunge:y, the plaid flanell shirts and the revival of the hippie sentiments and all that.. The whole scene should have been the second coming of the Grateful Dead, if there ever was one. And perhaps in some ways it was. And perhaps that is what Tom is personally credited with here, which I think is not fair.

From a mere TP fan perspective, all this may have been even more stated development on the wake of WF. With the last straight out rock effort by TPATH being 1987's LMU(IHE) - with 1992's ITGWO as a hybrid of sort, re-inviting (reluctantly? well.. perhaps if you ask Jeff) certain light band elements to the formula - the anticipation of a return to form kinda album, that you and many of TP's 70s and 80s fans no doubt must have had - must indeed have been strongly felt in 1995. It was time!! Enters Wildflowers and exists Stan. And all those expectations were squandered in a spell. Perhaps fans who had discovered TP/TPATH with FMF and/or ITGWO didn't notice this shift as being quite as strange or difficult to keep up with, then...? Sure, WF may have seemed gloomy.. overly ambitious.. whatever you want to call it, but the status of the band at the time (at least in studio) was really less than obvious since many years, so it being a solo album may not have bothered new fans. And the varied styles musically on the WF album further displayed something for everyone, plenty of familiar gimmicks still (it isn't all that all "brown", as it looks and sometimes get credits for..) There are lighthearted, very Jeff Lynne:ish Beatles vibe moments, there are rockers, jams, some blues elements, heavyness, mere pop and even a few symphonic soothing  moments too. It's everything but psychedelic, if you ask me. Nothing new under the sun, that is. And again.. the whole fashion and style of the thing with the down to earth, don't-wash-your-hair, and the ever cool middle age teenager statement of the beard-and-sneakers aesthetics, the Cobain age some say, the revenge of Neil Young - all had already claimed the mainstream rock since years. TP wasn't even the runner up to evoke this kinda of moods at this time, so to speak. Moreover, TP's age and his life situation kinda called for the kind of album as well - as if by natural law, sooner or later they all have to have their own Blood On The Tracks out of their systems, it happened to be right there and then. (So much for TP always doing his own thing. Although he did it in his own way, really did!)

All that as a general back-drop that we are familiar with, of course - you seem to know it better than anybody. Nevertheless it may serve to accompany what you say of how TPATH suddenly became a "stoner band". A bit of context, or contrast, as it were. In short, many stars seem to have been aligned when Jerry Garcia died, yes. Some Dead elements.. (well.. let's say Heads then, not to be confused with Knobs, mind you..) embraced TPATH as their new - let alone somewhat lighter - trip. But, again, I see this as merely coincidental.. stars align, like I said, mere coincidence.. I would certainly not go as far as you do, when you suggest that TP willingly shaped the band (sound and music, presumably?) to please these GD fans with his work on WF and beyond. I think he may have gotten a few newbie fans, sure.. It's a big and different enough album in that sense. (Almost all of his stuff were, really.) He may have gotten the Heads that just loved great music and were ready for his mature level rock'n'roll either way, and he obviously got the ones that were by then too fried to even listen to the anemic grooves of the first WF single and who basically took the inserting of the word "joint" to guarantee a psychedelic experience. Let's just say that may not have been the proudest moment for anyone, if so. Nevertheless, there are signs that this actually did happen, I can't deny it. But what does it really mean, beyond the mere realm of hype and image? What does it say about Tom's craft as a performer and songwriter? About WF as an album? Really?

Sure, TPATH did have their Filmore posters made in late 60s hippie era retro design, and sure enough they picked up Friend of The Devil as a cover song of choice around this time, perhaps they introduced one or two "jam" style songs of their own around this time and would keep doing so throughout. But. Whether that was deliberate attempts to dead:ify TPATH, to please new fans, or if it was just part of how such posters were generally made at the time, paying homage to the history of the venue, and an even more obvious homage to the recently dead and SF tie-in Garcia to pick up Friend of The Devil, may be up for debate. Either way - all these things, on the back of lyrics like YKHIF and GOLSD - may have attracted a few heads in the mid 90s. Agreed. However deliberately TP may have been reaching out to the Dead heads and however much that fanbase took to loving TPATH, I wouldn't say that TP went that far to cement any relationship or that the connection is that strong really. (I'm sure he didn't mind this new influx at this stage of his career.. and he may have flirted with this crowd, at least subtextually.. from time to time.. but I don't think it was by design, nor that he wouldn't perhaps have jammed out on Crystal River anyway (or that he would have refrained from the less briliant idea of Don't Pull Me Over even if Garcia was still alive in 2010, so to speak) or that less Dead heads would have been lured into the TPATH camp by YDKHIF, for that matter, than the amount who may have been convinced by all his earlier drug references (what with Molly B, smokes et al) or the trippy atmosphere of Don't Come Around Here No More. for that matter. (Although nothing can ever top the trippiness of Make It Better Dance Remix. That is food stuff for Dead Gods!! Whooooa sweeet jeeze.. the room is melting..). In fact, I think songs like Grew Up Fast, Zero from Outer Space, Walls from the era.. further  the use of Lucinda Williams and Beck as cover material on the WF follow-up STO (OST) seem to suggest quite different agendas at the time, other inspirations, other preoccupations in terms of self-imaging, than trying to please Dead Heads or being that very much into Dead music himself.

Note how I write "lyrics" above. Because you don't have to be that much of a Grateful Dead fan to realize that TPATH never was down that same alley as GD musically. Ok, jams.. Of coruse, there were times when TPATH really jammed as an organic being. At least on stage. But I would suggest they don't create music in the same way as did GD and they don't generally end up with the same type of stuff. As I said, with very few exceptions, TPATH are not very trippy, am I right. (Ok, so hooray for another joint.. but how much improv, psychedelic or folk or other generic main GD terms - is there really to the thump-thump of YDKHIF? You may say the song is dead, yeah. But it ain't Dead.) The few times TPATH were, channeling something even remotely GD:ish - musically - may more or less have happened post WF, right. One or two early live renditions of It's Good To Be King carries the certain seed. But also.. mostly.. and more.. it happened as late as post 2003 or even 2008 (with tunes like Melinda or Crystal River, at Vic residency and Mudcrutch tour, respectively). If anything, Tom's whole approach - to creating (certainly!!) and to performing (usually!) is the very antithesis of GD and anything lose, isn't it? Ironic for such a groovy dude, but really.. somewhere in that paradox is the mess up, I think. In some theoretical sense - even if I very much understand what you say and see what you're getting at! - it's the ultimate irony that Dead Heads would become TPATH fans. I mean, Tom was not only the ultimate perfectionist (who next to never let go of the banister with stuff on stage, weary that people would be sorely disappointed if he played an unfamiliar note, let alone threw in an unfamiliar song - and even just rarely played an unusual one), despite having a band that may be said to have had at least as great abilities and telepathic inter-player understanding to really go places, as famed Grateful Dead - for some, the inventors in the field. He was also composer/arranger/producer kinda brain that must have thought that bands like Grateful Dead - working songs out of their genius rather than applying their genius onto songs - generally speaking worked ass first. My personal guess is that any original fan of GD would have found, no matter how impressive and soulful the playing, the performances and the posibilities of the band, a TPATH concert a bit too scripted and too tightly secured square and a TPATH album, no matter how groovy and awesome the material, a few ballparks too removed from the truly communal creating, live played atmosphere and organic feel of the recordings. That is, not only do I sense a far cry between GD and TP in style (even on or post WF), but eons of distance in terms of approach and method too. But I could be wrong. (If I am, then please, I'd die to hear the long lost Jeff Lynne produced recordings of GD - now that a studio situation where I'd like to be fly on the wall.. or.. eh.. in the beard..). Either way, a Dead Head can and should dig a lot of TP music, no doubt. Just saying. 

And again, what is design and what is general ageing.. adopting a sligthty mellower, contemplation type outlook on musical vibes and intensity, when Tom went on to write and record WF.. isn't that as easy to say. At least I think not. No definite lines can be drawn (pun!) . Overall, I think the idea of TPATH as a "stoner band" is largely build on a misconception, a misunderstanding and a few silly stunts on TP's behalf. (Adding everything up in hindsight, what with TP's late 90s addiction and ultimate medication problem, doesn't help in steering away from ideas like these either.)

Of course, none of this mean that you are not entitled to your take on what happened and/or how TP's post WF music feels to you, nor indeed that quite few stoners didn't embrace TPATH thanks to WF. But it does mean that there has been quite a few drug references over the years even pre-wildflowers and that I think musically TPATH grew to incorporate a bit more blues and psychedelic elements from their late 60s and early 70s beginnings, into their music with age, regardless of their feelings towards the Grateful Dead, that I frankly think always was a minor influence and inspiration to some of the Heartbreakers, but not a main or key one and not to all of them.

Besides.. let's face it, british invasion fans probably always loved TP thanks to all the endless cover versions that TP picked from that pool, and numerous musical gimmicks borrowed to his own recordings; then there are probably old fans of The Band or The Byrds who have found (or at least increased) their love for TP thanks to Mudcrutch.. Old Elmore James or Chicago blues survivors may think that certain songs on Mojo or Hypnotic Eye are TPATH's best ever attempts, or Zeppelin fans that think that Honey Bee or Cabin Down Below meant that Wildflowers were a totally other type of new beginning that didn't have much to do with GD. The same people later may have thought that I Should Have Known It was their TP song of choice. In total, I think part of the charm and quality with TPATH, is/was that all these cross references have been there all the time.Different focus in different eras, sure, but perhaps not as black to blue to white as some try to make it. It's a blur, isn't it. Isn't part of what may be described as Grateful Dead vibes in TPATH music, really rather just the ghosts of JJ Cale, Allman Brothers and Little Feat anyway? Music that can be traced in the TP universe pretty much all the way back?   

Actually. In my book, the losing Stan issue, and WF being one or two songs too long to be a "tight album" were much bigger "problems", than the total of WF musically supposedly marking such incredibly different direction for TP's songwriting, and certalinly not so in a psychedelic or folk-oriented Dead direction. Much like Mojo and Hypnotic Eye are largely very different and much more varied albums than they are generally credited with or were indeed made out to be and marketed as being by the band themselves - I can really hear a lot of typical mixed TP DNA on WF.. I hear tons of things. Chills and fever. But even when I try my best, I don't sense The Grateful Dead on there almost at all. I can hear some then new nuances, of course, most of all I can hear the maturity in scope, arrangements, production.. the ambition of it all.. artist growing old and all that.. that seemingly people refer to when they talk about this album. (And I am of course familiar too with the crowd response to the "roll another joint" line in the live context - and we all know how much TP navigated by instant audience reactions for his well being on stage.) But musically, I can also hear very solid vibes of ITGWO (no wonder, given the time frame), of FMF too.. and certainly, there are Damn The Torpedoes or even Let Me Up echoes in there too. Either way, the most absurd irony of all is how ITGWO - in the midst of all these aspects of "traditional" vs "new" TP music, of band vs solo approach, bombastic and perfectionist ultra crisp production styles.. live, cut, paste, smoke.. eh - actually ends with Built To Last. Ok then, I say.    

In short, I'm not sure I buy into the presumptions, neither that TP changed direction that vividly with WF (not so definite, and certainly not into any actual GD territory.. more than perhaps very vaguely and very occasionally, for flirt purposes) - nor that he ever tried that hard to fit on that bill. 

 

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59 minutes ago, Shelter said:

in the midst of all these aspects of "traditional" vs "new" TP music, of band vs solo approach, bombastic and perfectionist ultra crisp production styles.. live, cut, paste, smoke.. eh - actually ends with Built To Last. Ok then, I say. 

Ha ha, nice observation and damn fine essay. Damn The Essays. There you go, title for the book you should/could/won't/? write on TP.

Man, that is some good writing and interesting points!

Most I've ever read on the GD in my life as they are not a band that interest me in the least, aside from the knowledge of how they shaped their live shows and improvisation on stage. If anything, that would've been to the good for the band and the fans had Tom shaped their owns shows influenced by the GD in this area, with the largely (?) untapped jamming potential of the Heartbreakers.

Whom am I to say though, because people loved seeing them live regardless of their approach on stage, evidence of how potent those hit singles are and how deceptively easy they may seem to create from the outside. Though I'm sure, as noted with Wildflowers (the song) that sometimes they were easy and sometimes like Tom noted about the Waiting, he had to keep at it.

As for comments on your comments, when I've the time; in the meantime I'm curious what anyone else, including the Same Old Drew make of your interesting and well considered points above. A lot of places to open up some interesting dialogue, we'll see. Regardless, it made for some nice reading.

Thanks for sharing Shelter.

cheers

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1 hour ago, TheSameOldDrew said:

As a preview, I am nearly 100% in the Stan camp, save for Steve doing an awesome job on "Hypnotic Eye" and for playing "Free Fallin'" better than Stan live.  Both of those topics are always interesting to me.   

I really enjoyed the WF tour and thought Steve did a good job for being thrown into the situation more or less. The guitar sounds, extended songs and heaviness of his playing fit the mood of the songs some of which I enjoyed more in concert than on compact disc.

But I understand how disappointed people were to see Stan go and missed his feel with the drums, backup vocals and altogether unique personal energy on stage regardless of how things existed backstage between them.

cheers

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2 hours ago, MaryJanes2ndLastDance said:

Most I've ever read on the GD in my life

Funny, it's about as little as I figured I could get away with, given the subject.. 

Anyway, thanks for the praise! Too kind, really. But I hope a few main points came across as intended.

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6 hours ago, Shelter said:

My personal guess is that any original fan of GD would have found, no matter how impressive and soulful the playing, the performances and the posibilities of the band, a TPATH concert a bit too scripted and too tightly secured square and a TPATH album, no matter how groovy and awesome the material, a few ballparks too removed from the truly communal creating, live played atmosphere and organic feel of the recordings

Makes sense to me. If fans did indeed migrate over than I reckon they largely stuck to the studio albums or enjoyed TPATH once a tour as soon as they realized how different in live approach the band was.

Maybe I'm wrong but to speculate, perhaps the WF tour was a chance for the band to adopt a more free form approach live, including the hits of course but adopting the more groove-oriented and extended jamming, finding perhaps, the challenging balance between satisfying those who show up for "don't bore us get to the chorus" and others who enjoy the interplay between guitars and piano.

Sure some would've been lost but other fans gained and there is an audience out there with the means and desire to follow bands to varying degrees. Could it have been done? Maybe. But perhaps that moment in time, if there was indeed an influx of GD fans, was during the WF tour, new fans, new album, new drummer and a new approach.

But it didn't happen and it worked out anyway for TPATH, they seemed to only get larger and more successful as a live band, considering the low or "low" moments of the Let Me Up tour; perhaps one could look to them and their progression and apply it to one's own life when down or facing insurmountable odds.

The band could've ended before FMF even happened, yet they went from using a curtain to hide empty seats to playing Fenway Park. 

ciao

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6 hours ago, Shelter said:

... it may serve to accompany what you say of how TPATH suddenly became a "stoner band". A bit of context, or contrast, as it were. In short, many stars seem to have been aligned when Jerry Garcia died, yes. Some Dead elements.. (well.. let's say Heads then, not to be confused with Knobs, mind you..) embraced TPATH as their new - let alone somewhat lighter - trip. But, again, I see this as merely coincidental.. stars align, like I said, mere coincidence.. I would certainly not go as far as you do, when you suggest that TP willingly shaped the band (sound and music, presumably?) to please these GD fans with his work on WF and beyond. I think he may have gotten a few newbie fans, sure..

Yes I'm probably overestimating the extent that TP may have tried to please the Grateful Dead fans.  As I suggested at the end of those remarks, maybe TP merely wanted to go in a certain direction, and as long as he had "some" audience for what he was doing, he'd keep going for what he wanted.  And for those who might say TP was going to do whatever he wanted, audience or not (I'm not saying that anyone here is saying that), he's said in various interviews that he would try things and hope that he'd have an audience.  Even as late as 2002 I recall him saying that he was going to play fewer "greatest hits" at the concerts and he'd change that if the audience didn't like it.  Well soon after that, he went back to a more "hits heavy" line-up, even as die-hard fans like ourselves wished he would reach deeper into his own great song catalog, a la Springsteen or Dylan.  He also talked about wanting to please fans who were seeing the band for the first time.  So - it was a factor for him, IMO. 

Which to my thinking means that the newer fans such as Deadheads and many others, who liked the mellow, long and meandering, sometimes mournful, sometimes pot-oriented songs, enabled TP to do the type of songs he liked.  In other words, he wasn't necessarily trying to appeal to a new audience, but when he changed direction a new audience appeared for him (while others like myself exited the scene, as I no longer attended live shows after the 1990's, even turning down free tickets two different times after 2000).   Good for TP, I'm not saying he didn't deserve to do what he wanted to do at that point in his career, but that direction of the music and lyrics definitely did not appeal to me.  Same for Steve's drumming vs. Stan's - I found Stan's drumming much more interesting, cymbal oriented, and creative, while Steve's drumming was plodding, bass-drum oriented, and didn't leave enough room for the rest of the band.  While the drum difference is another topic, the change in drummers did coincide with a drastic change in the type of music they were doing. 

As far as pot-smoking, I have no problem with that, though it's not something I do myself.  Clearly pot was part of TP and the other band member's lives from the beginning.  But it didn't seem that so much of the band's music revolved around pot, until the mid-1990's.  And again, I'm fine with it, but they have to give us non-smoking fans a reason to listen.  Maybe YDKHIF appeals beyond the pot crowd, but it seems to me that's the base for it.  Even a song like "Learning to Fly" took on new meaning for that crowd, I recall a concert where people cheered at the "and the town lit up" line, which to my understanding wasn't about pot, but many in the new crowd (i.e. after 1992) took it that way.  And I can't imagine anyone suffering through that long story TP told during the cover of "Gloria" without being a dedicated pot smoker.  To each his/her own, but that just wasn't my thing, my kind of story, or my kind of music.  Pot is undoubtedly great for those who love it, but there's more to life as well.  And TPATH didn't need to focus on that previously, to find a wide audience.

When you talk about there being new music in the 1990's, such as grunge, etc. - sure the music changes.  I thought the Rolling Stones were nicely revitalized in the late 1970's/early 1980's when "punk" came along and influenced their music.   For TPATH though, the change they made in the mid-1990's represented nearly everything they were against when they were formed as a band (not as Mudcrutch but as TPATH).   The early and mid 1970's had seen the popularity of the mellow, maudlin bands like "Bread", and live acts often had overly long songs, endlessly - and to my taste pointlessly - noodling (looking at 20+ minute versions of Led Zeppelin songs, etc).    TPATH was originally built on shorter, punchy songs with defiant lyrics, rather than what we saw with the mid/late 90's output.  Yet - they had done things their way for more than 15 years, the excesses of the 1970's that they'd fought against were largely forgotten by then, and if they wanted to make that change, good for them to find an audience to support it.  Though I do wonder - this is not a knock on TP, I'm a huge fan of his - if the other band members were as happy about changing direction as TP.  Stan obviously didn't like the change.  Mike started a side project to do the kind of music he liked.  Ben and Howie, who knows.  I did feel that their studio albums (including the solo album Highway Companion) moved back toward their earlier stuff after the 1990's, so maybe it was mainly TP being where he was, personally and musically, in the mid/late 1990's.          

  

    

    

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3 hours ago, TheSameOldDrew said:

if the other band members were as happy about changing direction as TP.  Stan obviously didn't like the change.  Mike started a side project to do the kind of music he liked.  Ben and Howie, who knows.

That is a good question that I don't think has ever been asked. Could have been but it's new to me and it's  a good one. I really don't know on this one.

My impression is the band wasn't always effusive with praise even when they liked something but that's a bit to the side of your question. I think they also let Tom know when they weren't feeling it.

But overall direction?

Stan is always mentioned that he doesn't like the direction, but the others...??? Hmm.

To speculate, I think it's a mix, that is, they love being in the band overall, or the pluses far outweigh any minuses, and love playing music together. I figure having played together for so long, they love some music he writes, and just figure they'll ride out the ones they don't like.  Guessing about the inside, it seems like they'd just have a different view, focused on the current song and doing the best they could with that; so any change in sound or direction to them wouldn't be the same to the listeners. And besides, once an album was done and the tour stars, they usually didn't play too much new stuff anyway. So the new album just becomes something from the past, especially once that tour ended. Each new album is a fresh start for the band and probably viewed as such.

I figure most of the band was fine with any direction Tom went in as it was more about the journey (once they'd become successful) and less about any particular destination. And any changes of the type you mention above, may not even have been noticed by the band as it was incremental from their perspective. Right now, a new listener could throw on Damn the Torpedoes followed up by Echo and have quite a bit of "shock". But I don't think it was the same for the band, aside I guess, from Stan.

It occurs to me now that reuniting Mudcrutch and recording Mojo were big evident changes, not just in sound but in overall approach and from what I've read, I think all involved both with Mudcrutch and back with the Heartbreakers liked the change. I think they all love the blues and let that and keeping Mike's playing in the forefront; whether one considers Mojo blues or "blues" it was a definite change to be that self-indulgent on a record and from what I gathered, they all liked it!

Well, that's my thought on the matter. Interesting question, maybe one day someone will ask someone from the band that particular query.

cheers

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On August 20, 2019 at 4:18 PM, TheSameOldDrew said:

TPATH was originally built on shorter, punchy songs with defiant lyrics, rather than what we saw with the mid/late 90's output.  Yet - they had done things their way for more than 15 years, the excesses of the 1970's that they'd fought against were largely forgotten by then,

Did you like when they jammed in concert, let's say from the WF tour on?

Mike's surf instrumental, Breakdown, It's Good To Be King, Drivin' Down to Georgia, extended Mary Jane's, was that fun for you or would you have preferred them to maybe have one or two big numbers and the rest more of the tighter flow they had in the 70s and 80s. I think I included Shelter's Jam Extravaganza link above but if that's not to your taste, I could see why you'd have no comment on it.

I see that link was in another topic but here it is again:

https://www.mudcrutch.com/forum/index.php?/topic/16032-the-extended-jam-extravaganza-thread/&tab=comments#comment-313537

cheers

 

 

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12 hours ago, TheSameOldDrew said:

Yes I'm probably overestimating the extent that TP may have tried to please the Grateful Dead fans.

Well.. Again, a post full good points! I agree with most of them, if it doesn't seem like it. 

Like I said, I too sense development in TP's music over time. It has been discussed elsewhere (MJ2LD, links please!) from multiple perspectives, the extent to which TP may have changed styles in terms of songwriting and sound, both in studio and live, when such changes may have occured and how suddenly is part of debate legend. Haha.. The over all picture you communicate fits my own take pretty well, actually. It's just that I find the Grateful Dead connection as such - the definition of TPATH becoming essentially a "stoner band" - to be rather over stated and based on a long line of misunderstandings. Perhaps I spent too much time in my previous post kicking that particular horse.. that it was a factor for TP, well.. sure, on some level it may have been. 

But to me the development was rather more gradual and multilayered, I guess. Also more of a natural development than a conscious decision to do stoner rock, or to please a certain fan segment. The appeal to "stoner" audiences, to me should be seen more as a side effect, a minor aspect, if you will, of Tom musically turning towards a somewhat slower and more introvert swagger with age, rather than a deliberate move. For better or worse, sure. An older distinguished rocker revisiting the more "classic" styles of his field and the basic origins of the music of his youth (as in blues, country/folk rock and jams - all ingrediences that no doubt became more common past Wildflowers, sure). Something most ageing rockers seems to do. Most band rockers and punks turn singer songwriters with age, it seems - with or without their backing band intact. In a way a good thing, IMO. It's not totally void of pathetic dimensions, IMO, seeing the odd 60+ punk rocker still screaming and jumping about.. or even Mick Jagger at 75, strutting around as if it's still 1973, as if he had a hit since. Derailing.. sorry. 

But. From there I just don't see the sudden shift from band based rock'n'roll punch (you make a very apt discription of the 70s and early 80s TPATH, I think) so suddenly kicking in overnight on Wildflowers. I certainly agree there is a certain connection between Tom mellowing out, starting to roam slightly different pastures and Stan leaving. For sure. Very interesting, the drum aspect very key to understanding the history of this band, surely. And yes, Wildflowers marks the first all-on change in drum sound, no doubt.* But my understanding is that even the shift in sound generally speaking, was gradual and ongoing as well. If anything, FMF/TW was the moment of change in Tom's outlook. when it can be said to have became evident and "done". A fork in the road in probably more ways than WF, one may suggest. The FMF album and songs still being punch:y and short enough (which seem to be one of your key definitions), but still a definate diversion from the band based rock efforts that we were used to from TPATH up to that point. A reorientation it seemed, but not towards "stoner rock", certainly, but rather to a California defined vibe of acoustic guitars, boardwalks, converse and skateboards. Very light, breezy and hip, all in all. Probably an easy  enough album to like for pot heads and skaterboys alike, granted.. Very freeeee fallin' and all. Still not by any definition a psychedelic, jam heavy, mellow spaced out folk rock or blues effort, or even a clear coming to age, turning introvert effort either. At least on the surface there is not much to think twice about on the masterpiece that is FMF. And not that much more heavy goods ITGWO either. Although, again.. on ITGWO the drums really started to change and the Touring The Great Wide Open was really one big TRIP, in many ways, wasn't it... in 1991 there were unmistaken stoner elements, yeah... hippie vibes.. "everyone hissed and booed", no nukes.. and all that. Add to that the very broadway stage set-up of what might be read as a Greatful Dead visual experience of chandeliers, a giant dream tree and a dragon, no less. The straight up, simple, short riff rock arrangements of the 70s and 80s already in large part gone from the TP formula. Still all the old rockers remained in the stable, ever typical themes of freedom, defiance, story telling all intact and thriving also in the newer material.

Enters Mary Jane. With Stan already one foot out the door. (Mary Jane.. yeah.. another clue to what a groovy trip of an album WF was to become, supposedly? Maybe, maybe not.) Musically another step towards the mellow and groovy. But stoner rock, I think not. At this point Tom had really fashioned himself as the Dude, though, in terms of image. Which, added to YDHIF lyrics and GOLSD b-side, did set the stage for certain expectations for Wildflowers - no matter what styles of music were actually on the album. In short, I can see how there may have been something in the air (pun) to a "stoner" effect in this era, but I still think it's a surface thing, not totally mirrored in the actual music. That the deeper conenctions bewteen any actual "stoner rock" and Tom's songwriting/music was, and still is, based on a misunderstanding at large. Again, if you get high from the word "joint", that's alright by me, but the music, the arrangement and production of the song, don't go far past telling a story in the same old defiance vein, to me.** 

Moreover, perhaps paradoxically, while I agree with your taste on the drum issue.. I find the claim absurd that a switch from Stan to Steve behind the drums would be a switch towards anything even remotely close to a new musical direction in the vein of Greatful Dead, Jimi Hendrix or Jefferson Airplane or what have you. Even if I shared the opinion that TPATH went into stoner rock in the mid 90s, I wouldn't say they did so because of or thanks to Steve, but that they did so despite of him and his hard flap, flap time keeping. If they really wanted to go stoner, they should've kept Stan, is my take.

Shit... sorry but it seems I start to repeat myself here. So many aspects and layers to keep track of.. so little brain.. hehe. Anyway. Just pick the cherries, so to speak.. if you find some.

 

16 hours ago, TheSameOldDrew said:

Even as late as 2002 I recall him saying that he was going to play fewer "greatest hits" at the concerts and he'd change that if the audience didn't like it.  Well soon after that, he went back to a more "hits heavy" line-up, even as die-hard fans like ourselves wished he would reach deeper into his own great song catalog, a la Springsteen or Dylan.

Very true. He did try something in 2002. And for most tours up to Wildflowers he tried to introduce a healthy dose of new stuff and the tours changed some from time to time. After Wildflowers, when all the slots more or less booked full with the expected hits (if not set to an exact order and with the exact same canned banter every year) that took a general turn for the worse/better, depending on viewpoint. Exception being Mojo tour, where they really stood their ground and introduced a bold full Mojo segment and Hypnotic Eye tour, where they actually played a few new songs. Again, though, I'm not sure how stoners react to sameness.. I suppose they like it. Anywaaay.. as far as crowd pleasing go, TP  sticking to the safety net and Greatest Hits paradade live, really shows that crowd pleasing indeed was a factor for him. Even more so than fan pleasing supposedly. But at the end of the day.. depending on how you look at it, fans don't pay the bill. Crowds do. As far as the character of the actual music goes though, how it's written, how it's recorded and how it's produced,  I'd say those are completely different issues from Tom pleasing crowds from the stage with his FMF/WF focus.

 

17 hours ago, TheSameOldDrew said:

And I can't imagine anyone suffering through that long story TP told during the cover of "Gloria" without being a dedicated pot smoker. 

Man.. that is.. Brilliant piece of writing, right there! If your stoner thesis ever needs an alibi.. look no further than Gloria. Couldn't agree more. And I'm not being sarcastic. I totally understand what you say here. Between the likes of Gloria and Mystic Eyes, there is smoke coming out of my ears even as a none smoker. Totally insane stuff and not in a very good way. Agreed. (And, btw, I say that as a big fan of their jams on Melinda and Crystal River.. I guess to me.. there are good trippy and bad trippy..)

Then of course, their 1978 take of Dark End of the Street.. well.. let's just pretend that never happened. 

 

17 hours ago, TheSameOldDrew said:

For TPATH though, the change they made in the mid-1990's represented nearly everything they were against when they were formed as a band

Right. This is very interesting, I think. It's always disappointing when people abandon ideals or don't live up to moral standards. I feel it too. And to a certain extent I think this is a somewhat valid critisism of TPATH. In this case as in other cases. Talking and walking was sometimes hard to coordinate. But keeping to the music then, yeah.. it could be something to this... But since it's not really about moral here, but rather just aestetic preferences, not to mention temper and passion and experience, and these things are bound to change in 20 years, not mention 30 or 40 years, no? I'm not sure it's that much of a break, really. (See further my above comments about personal development and growing older and all that.) They must have loved Gloria already in 1975 too.. But to stick to the point, whatever develops over decades may not be for everyone, sure, but I for one am glad TP continued to develop, rather than doing what lesser stars do, repeat their two or three biggest hits over and over. Trying to reenact the public idea of themselves. (Tom, again, did this, I think, to some extent, with his live shows, but not at all on record.) Especially since I don't believe Tom ever traded his legacy for a full blown stonership in the 90s. At least not that much musically. We all know about his personal decline. In the midst of it all, he kept searching and writing in mixed moods, yet developing, and it's an integrity thing that I much respect.

That said, I may have personal preferences too among the various stages in the TPATH career, I like certain swings better than others. When it comes to the sound, I do miss the organic, very soulful presence of Stan's drumming. As I miss the harmony vocals of Howies very much - a topic not talked about or credited even nearly enough, over the years, very key to this band's heydays IMO. When it comes to the live sound, I do appriciate how raw and heavy and gritty (for lack of better words), yet crisp and rolling they were at the peak of their performing years, which happen to be the last years, IMO. When it comes to the very musical quality though.. it's rather a rather mixed bag. Some highligts before Wildflowers and some after. Some less good ideas here and there too. At the end of the day the 1981-1982 era may have been my favorite. Mostly due to constency and lack of flaws. But as far as ultimate highs go, I find them scattered throughout.  

Ok.. I'm not sure I know what we talk about here, any more. Maybe these attempts of mine to broaden the context (or misconception, as I see it) of the Greatful Dead references and stoner era of TPATH has just turned into the thread version of a trip to pirates cove all on its own.. And as such, I'm sure you don't like it. Sorry, man. :)

 


 

-----  

*Especially in hindsight. At the time Stan's drumming on ITGWO was very "stylised" and "tamed" and during the mid 90s era, Curt Bisquera and even Dave Grohl was in the mix too, let's not forget, so I'm not the shift didn't appear to quite done yet from back then.

**Analysing lyrics may be difficult too. But if you take the pre WF and post WF periods, I'm not even sure the average nr of drug references are that much higher from WF on.. I really think you make another hen out this feather here.. so to speak.. when you suggest that TP's lyrics turned so incredibly different, starting in the mid 90s. Again, the perspective change when you get older. Maye one or two blunt drug references more - perhaps as part of a trend with generally more graphic and in your face imagery, who knows - maybe a tad more personal, contemplating.. even political in one or two instances. But over all? Wasn't it the same mixed set of themes and cries for freedom and rights and dreams... the same genius storytelling.. all to the end, really? Did the few examples that can no doubt be found, really define his whole body of work? But I could be wrong, maybe lyrics did change that dramatically towards drugs and I just didn't hear it. Either way - I would never say that he FOCUSED on pot in his songrwriting. No way. Either way - I know that simpliefied statistics will only take me that far, so I won't do the count of suspected lyrical references or readings.. You believe what you want to believe. So to speak. (The number of references to wings makes him what.. an aviator? And what about the dogs..? Did he somewhere along the line become a "canine" rocker..:? This opens for new ways to measure the treasure, doesn't it.) 

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3 hours ago, Shelter said:

Like I said, I too sense development in TP's music over time. It has been discussed elsewhere (MJ2LD, links please!) from multiple perspectives, the extent to which TP may have changed styles in terms of songwriting and sound, both in studio and live, when such changes may have occured and how suddenly is part of debate legend. Haha.

https://www.mudcrutch.com/forum/index.php?/topic/14774-do-you-like-the-evolution-of-the-heartbreakers-sound/&

https://www.mudcrutch.com/forum/index.php?/topic/16143-the-southern-accentswildflowers-theory/&tab=comments#comment-315307

https://www.mudcrutch.com/forum/index.php?/topic/15726-thoughts-on-the-two-tpaths/&tab=comments#comment-309468

 

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On August 20, 2019 at 4:18 PM, TheSameOldDrew said:

And I can't imagine anyone suffering through that long story TP told during the cover of "Gloria" without being a dedicated pot smoker.  To each his/her own, but that just wasn't my thing, my kind of story, or my kind of music. 

I agree on all points though to be fair, the first couple times I heard it from the Fillmore recording I liked it as part of the overall feel of the show. But two, maybe three but more likely two listens were enough for me. But people love that story, pot or no pot. If you really want to wander down the crazy links of set lists discussions I'll point out the way; very polarizing.

I feel like I've inundated you with links though so maybe you'd appreciate a break from them. 

cheers

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7 hours ago, Shelter said:

The FMF album and songs still being punch:y and short enough (which seem to be one of your key definitions), but still a definate diversion from the band based rock efforts that we were used to from TPATH up to that point. A reorientation it seemed, but not towards "stoner rock", certainly, but rather to a California defined vibe of acoustic guitars, boardwalks, converse and skateboards. Very light, breezy and hip, all in all..........Still not by any definition a psychedelic, jam heavy, mellow spaced out folk rock or blues effort, or even a clear coming to age, turning introvert effort either.

 

 I agree, definitely a bit removed from the more singer-songwriter type songs or introspective, what have you of the Steve years.

Aside from the acoustic prominence (to a degree I guess) I think FMF has more in common with early TP than later. The album is a textbook rock-n-roll/pop album, from the way the sides are arranged, the songs, so many neat riffs and melodies...the bees knees! As for ITGWO it seemed like the tale is the old band resisting and losing (?) to Lynne's approach but it still feels more of a kind with the first half, or the Stan years than what was to come. 

7 hours ago, Shelter said:

Enters Mary Jane. With Stan already one foot out the door. (Mary Jane.. yeah.. another clue to what a groovy trip of an album WF was to become, supposedly? Maybe, maybe not.)

I'll go with NOT!

Well, I just think it's one of his best songs (surprise surprise, right?) and from what I've read, Stan went with his creativity regarding the drum beat and man...that song bounces along, doesn't it? I don't even want to think about it ending up on WF even if it was close to the recording of that album.

As far as last hurrahs go, in my opinion, Stan left on a high note whether or not he literally did leave after this song from that session and never looked back as the story is told. It's also told there are more tunes from that, a hidden last Stan Lynch on Drums TPATH album, maybe one day that'll emerge, if some of it wasn't too used up by Playback.

cheers

 

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On August 20, 2019 at 4:18 PM, TheSameOldDrew said:

(while others like myself exited the scene, as I no longer attended live shows after the 1990's, even turning down free tickets two different times after 2000). 

Wow, I missed this! I guess it answers my question regarding the live jams and such; though...it brings up a new question which is, have you listened to live shows from later tours? Or was that it for live TPATH for you...?

cheers

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