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Mudcrutch Farm Reviews - Mudcrutch 2

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PART 2 then....:)

'Hope', this screams 'She's The One' album to me! Ironically, it's Benmont's keys in this one that make me think that....without the keys it would hide the 'She's The One' reference point, but then again wouldn't be as good a song without the keys which actually makes the song...I'm also getting ''Hey Baby, you're a free girl now'' from High Grass Dogs DVD based on the drum pattern here....quite a nasel tone in Toms voice...maybe he had a cold when cutting this one...like this one a lot!

'Welcome To Hell'...a great homage to Jerry Lee Lewis here, if anything I would have liked to hear an extended 'Killer' jam from Benmont at the end of this one...it ends quite abruptly...so maybe a missed opportunity for Benmont to really cut loose on the piano on an extended solo.

'Save Your Water'..ah yes, the other one I had in my 'bottom two' after the radio premiere. This one really clicked upon first listen on the album....there's a southern country rock authenticity and purity to this one that I missed out on first time around. 'Save your water woman I won't drink out of your stream', love that lyric! Again, one of those where the lyrics really fit the song and there's more than one stream of consciousness going on!

'Victim Of Circumstance', the more I listen to this the more I like it....love Mikes vocal delivery here, laid back but right on the money...serving the songs needs with an understated hint of panache....just like his playing. We need more singing from Mike! Similiar to 'Welcome To Hell' this one is at least two minutes too short though which is a bit frustrating.

'Hungry No More', for some reason this one reminds me of the atmosphere of 'Free As A Bird' the song that was put together around the time of the release of The Beatles Anthology documentary all those years ago....the best compliment I can give this is that in my view only 'Dreams Of Flying' and 'I Forgive It All' could be considered better...and even then you'd have to splice and dice some thin threads to justify that...certainly these three comfortably belong in the same ball park of excellence. After the radio premiere I had these three and 'Hope' as the strongest songs I liked best....since buying the album 'Hope' has slipped out of that bracket a bit....and 'Beautiful Blue' is fighting hard for re-examination...there's something about that song that I can't make up my mind about....guess the only thing for it is to keep listening to it until I find the answer! 

So to summarise, I'd give this a four out of five star rating overall....great job on recording the album..it sounds great, even on CD, so can only imagine how good it sounds on vinyl...i'm always clamouring for external producers to produce Tom/Heartbreakers/Mudcrutch but great job on this one. On another note, i can't under estimate the value and importance of Benmont to the album....he really rounds out the sound with intelligent flourises here and there to really accentuate the songs....the lack of enough Benmont on Hypnotic Eye (i know he was working on his own album but not sure if that was the full reason for his lack of keys on the record as a whole...it's a bass heavy record so maybe that was deliberate in terms of the way they wanted to get the sound for that album..but still)  really inhibited that album from reaching it's full sound potential I thought....so maybe after 'Wildflowers All The Rest' we can get a re-recorded deluxe HE release with Dreams Of Flying included! 

On a more humorous note....they missed a trick by not having a closing 'Jerry Springer Final Thought' with Jerry saying his trademark ''Take care of yourself, and each other''. It would have fit in well with some of the tales of the songs in the album that could easily be linked to the type of characters and stories that featured on The Jerry Springer Show!:D

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I just listened for the first time all the way through and I am absolutely distraught that I am not able to get to one of the shows this time around! The album is AMAZING!! Even better as a whole than what I already loved in the previews on TP radio and even the NPR preview. Dreams of flying and Hope really stand out more on the album. Of course I am still totally hooked on Victim of Circumstance and ready to bow down in respect with tears in my eyes to I Forgive it All. Every song has special qualities all to its own. I love that they each got to do one of their own songs, yet the album is really a solid piece of work with real flow. I absolutely love it!

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Trailer Originally the B-Side to Petty and Heartbreakers "Don't Come Around Here No More" greatly improved here with time and age, its pretty much a classic right up there with Tom's best.

Dreams of Flying Tom had this tune from the Wildflowers era and it sounds awesome here with Mudcrutch. Its a solid mid tempo rocks that has an anthemic quality to it and some nice chiming guitars that would sound great on the radio, live, anywhere. This would have been a huge hit late 80's and early 90's and is not unlike many of those.

Beautiful Blue One of those slower well crafted songs where you appreciate each musician and their contribution to its sound. Another Petty song, someone found the lyrics of it and then Tom took it and wrote a tune to it. Mike Campbell and Tom Leadon add some nice guitars with just the right piano fills from Benmont Tench

Beautiful World Drummer Randall Marsh contributes this rather catchy pop rocker with bright guitars and tight harmonies on the chorus and a couple of nice change ups on what the Beatles would call "the middle eight" a brief very And Your Bird can sing guitar solo. Someone else mentioned a "When the Time Comes" similarity but i first heard the first line of Meatloaf's "Bat Out Of Hell" 

I Forgive it All A sparse but moving ballad with Petty on acoustic guitar. Offers a great line "People are what they make em" 

The Other Side of The Mountain Lively rockabilly/bluegrass number from guitarist Tom Leadon like the harmonies on this tune adds greatly to the albums rich tapestry of down home sounds.

Hope Tom sings in a high register this foot stomper driven by a Hammond Organ with a 60's vibe epecially the guitar breaks that have been fed through a speaker of some sort. Upbeat and optimistic.

Welcome to Hell Benmont's Jerry Lee Lewis inspired offering, often the man right at the back behind the keys for the Heartbreakers he can surely deliver a song really well and this boogie woogie will get you up and dancing, I like it!

Save Your Water Very much like The Byrd's but unmistakably Tom Petty with some notable vocal phrasing and professional harmonies with the band, a great song and great playing by the whole band.

Vicitim of Circumstance Often considered the poorest singer of the bunch guitarist Mike Campbell offers a great rocking tune that would fit nicely on say The Full Moon Fever Album or She's The One Soundtrack. This is a fun number, well written and will slay it live.

Hungry No More A Gimme Shelter vibe permeates this acoustic based closing track and it is a fine song which could fast become another Petty epic.

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Someone said "gimme Shelter"?? :) 

I suppose I already spilled my beans over at the album “premiere” thread. But perhaps it's nevertheless time to share an initial review of proper here as well, now when the album has been spinning more than a handful of times. As it turns out those first impressions of mine seem to last, more or less. Of course, hearing the album in its entirety, the right running order, no talking and so on, did make a difference. For the better, not surprisingly.  

Most of my initial “concerns” seemingly becomes buried in the overall greatness of the album. To the extent that this is a far more elaborate and “post-produced” album than its raw and immediate forerunner, this is actually, as it turns out, mostly a theoretical problem. Both the unique qualities here (vs your average Heartbreakers stuff) and the intimate vibe and feel that is so intense on their first album, is very much retained, if achieved at by quite different means. If anything, this second thoughts, more worked, over dubs friendly approach allows still more layers of the music to be discerned. I love the sounds that this album wraps itself in. There’s a warmth to it that still very much translates to similar effects that did the first album, despite the different approach. 

All players gets to shine. I love what TP adds as a bass player - always did, I think his groove is amazing, with a swagger a bit more "drawl:ed" (than say Ron - especially Ron w/ Steve on his back - with Howie then a bit back and forth between the two attitudes, perhaps). TP's and RM's rhytm section is tight and loose at the same time in a very interesting and cool sounding way, a nice feel to it, different, quite some distance from the usual Heartbreakers beat, must say. The TL guitar provides an interesting if careful variation to the normal TP guitar, even if the differences (as touched upon in that premiere interview) isn't totally breathtaking (one could imagine hearing more of a difference, perhaps, had TL made some guest appearance in the Heartbreakers context, who knows..) And finally, not surprisingly MC and BT gets a new set of slots, different both in texture, layers and location to let their ya-ya's out, so to speak. Some incredible work by both of them, as usual. Like someone mentioned, this album really is a "revenge" of sorts for BT, being so downplayed on HE in 2014. It really does sound incredibly good for most parts, is what I'm trying to say. The most well sounding album I've heard in a long while. 

And, speaking of sound - the harmonies, arranged, recorded and layered for this album, are absolutely wonderful. As for lead vocals, in general they are amazing too. TP provides some of his best ever, IMO (and, admittedly one of his lesser) and MC too sings better than I knew he even could. BT's cool laid back vocal qualities translates so well to this soundscape and musical format. TL cannot really sing, as I see it, but with that in mind, they have managed to make his lead part sound pretty ok. RM may not be too much of a singer either, but somewhat surprisingly (at least to me) his delivery actually catches on and works, at least for this time, for this song, really, really well. It contributes to the feeling of excitement in the song he wrote and I hope - with a sense of dare and worry - that he gets the chance to repeat this delivery live and that he can manage ("eek!"). Good for him. Still, at the end of the day.. the big winner, in terms of news value, has to be MC. After hearing this achievment of his, I am even more fan of the idea of him releasing some stuff in his own name. He really should. 

(As far as sound goes, I say all this, having not yet even heard the vinyl edition.)

As for the material. Extremely high standard. And the songs are baked together in such a nice sequence too. Great, great craftmanship! The variety of styles and levels of song writing works surprisingly well too. What could have been a mess in some ways, ends up perfectly tight and focused in vision.

To me, as I hinted already in my first ponderings, Trailer turns out to be a key song in this lot – not that it’s the best, but that it’s the most integral to what I find to be the “Mudcrutch touch” in the music (for lack of better word), thus it functions perfectly as opener, setting the tone, bringing the bunch together in terms of atmosphere. (More over, I don’t get the antagonism between the old and the new versions of the song. To me they quite beautifully represent two parallel dimensions of the song, as it stands on paper, in a way that actually makes both versions better. I can picture a short film where they both play out as a soundtrack.)

Dreams of Flying. Great from the very start, but keeps growing. I still agree, there’s an obvious vintage Petty vibe to this song the way it's written, that may have sat well with The Heartbreakers, or a TP solo session, back in the day. But as it is treated here, I think it works well as a Mudcrutch song... and it keeps getting better. An incredible find of an old song, obviously, but hearing it like this suggests it may have been a good thing it wasn’t out until now, in this fashion. I think they managed to make it 99% their own with this arrangement, and I don't need to think of it as essentially a HB song no more. 

Beautiful Blue. Like I said befire, a fantastic song. It has kept growing on me and it also keeps building that certain A-side drama that start this album out so nicely. (2 has got a very strong three song beginning in my view, and with Blue you reach that almost hypnotic level of beauty.) On most other albums, this would have been the show stopper in terms of heartfelt ballads, but..... it says something that in this lot, it's just nr 2...  

RM’s addition - Beautiful Word - is another one that keeps growing on me. It may be considered one of the light weight moments of the album, but both the composition and the sound (that I initially found a bit.. flat.. and mechanical) actually turns out to be quite engaging and intense in it's own way. I find myself tapping my foot and singing along. A better song that I thought at first. Light weight, yes, but in a good way. Harmonies and bridge are constructed really cool and the song end up fitting nicely with the album vibe. 

I Forgive it All. Such to-the-bone classic, yet unique TP song, that it would have made any set or track list, from any of his bands or projects, a little better. I am glad that it turned up for this album. Adds a certain intensity that blends right in. Also - it seems to me that this is one of these songs in latter years, that finds TP exploring slightly different territories in terms of tonality (w?) and the way the melody is constructed. Thanks to simple arrangements it may not be as easily detected as in the finest moments of Mojo, or in the most clear examples I can think of - Full Grown Boy and Looking for Daddy - but I think it is there somewhere. A certain sense of warped yet classic world class TP. In TP's top 10 ever? What else is there to say..? Pretty, darn perfect song. Pretty darn perfect song!  (Btw.. people are what people make 'em, hu? Such a very anti-self-made-man, all-is-possible thing to say, after all. It sounds good, sure.. but does it feel good? There's a double meaning to this, for sure, a bitter sweet sensation in this song, on several level.)

On The Other Side of The Mountain. Still. I think TL’s singing is, well.. bad. It's just bad. But the harmonies and the general production, and the TP vocal parts, actually makes up for it pretty well and it has grown a bit better  listening to it a few times. (Funny how that works.) Most of all - this is a really great – bound to be underrated – song. Anyone even remotely familiar with real country music (that is pre-Nashville polish), folk rock or southern rock are bound to take this piece very seriously. Some very good songwriting and quite an upgrade in the craft from The Go-Go Girls of the past.  Still it is one of very few small moments on this album, that with a slight wishful alteration (in this case, had TP sung all of the verses...), it would have brought the album the few missing inches into being a 100% perfect one, in my book. I like it more and more though.

Hope. This, on the other hand - thus far, this is the trouble maker of the bunch, in a more serious way. Not that it's a bad song, just that the special Mudcrutch vibe fails to reveal itself to me at all. And this is pretty much the only time that happens on "2". A good enough song that I don't mind hearing as such. It's not that grand, but there's a nice drive and cool retro psych sound to it that I normally love. But the temper, the style and also the vocal delivery (that I still don't particularly care for) doesn't seem to fit the mix very well in this context. It seems too much at odds. It's liable to confuse rather than to add anything, in terms of these songs working as an otherwise perfect album. Like been suggested - this would have been the perfect She's The One song. Sure, I buy that. I suspect they did have something better for this album though. 

Welcome to Hell. Well, I spoke my piece already. Light weight by design, but world class delivery and great fun, great stuff! Helps giving the album that certain variety and grandeur, as I see it. It occupies a whole dimension of it's own that lifts the whole disc. To see this as a lone player, a "strange" aside to the main flow of the album is a mistake. It it very much core to what it's all about, I think.  

My initial hunch, that Save Your Water could develop into a bit of a Byrdsian Mudcrutch masterpiece, that feels very much at the core to this sound and this experience - both as a great song in it’s own right and as having a uniting, cohesive function in the lot - turned out to be true. Just like Trailer starting off the album doing, this one, to me, ties back to the first album and that "Bayou-side" heart of this band. It has grown a lot on me in just a few listens. It's very good and very much a Mudcrutch song, if I ever heard one. "Sold me down the river..." I think it's bound to be slightly misunderstood though.
 
Victim of Circumstance. Oh, that driving, buzzing intro... Perhaps my favorite moments on this whole album, perhaps ever, in the entire cataloge of TP/MC. It's so thrilling, makes me giddy with excitement. (Must be similar to what Usain Bolt feels like the split millisecond before pushing out of the starting blocks. The anticipation, the nerves, the tingling sensation.) And then the song starts and delivers such a fun and intense ride. One of the highlights on the album, for sure. Keeps growing still and no doubt will be - this has been said too - great fun to hear them do live. Great energy, great vocals.
 
Again, I think I said most of what I think of Hungry No More already. Nothing much to add. Is and will be a great song with a certain "classic" touch to it. Already after a few listens it feels like this song's been around for ages. Works to great effect and the sound and arrangements.. ah.. this could be said for almost the whole album, but this song really is dreamy and intense at the same time., the mix is beautiful and the overall effect is... eh.. music to my ears. Ha! And to my mind too! A classic to be, and I agree to all the praise it gets around here, still I'm not sure it's even the second best song on this album..  that's how high a level of stuff most of this is.
 
In conclusion, I’m really beyond impressed by where these guys are at this point in their careers and lifes. Stunned by the qualities of this album, on several levels. Between Hypnotic Eye and Mudcrutch 2, the TP/BT/MC team, with great help of course, have created some of their very finest and strongest stuff ever, in my view.  If the bears are wrestling or dancing is beside the point.. it's even beyond the point. The point is the irresistible swagger. I take a bow.

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Coming up next: My two cents. :-D

The sound of the whole album is fantastic, but we don't expect it any other way from them, do we? I sometimes feel they (Tom and Mike?) might have told poor Randall a few times too often to play like Ferrone... hardly any drum fills anywhere, only problem is he's not the merciless timekeeper Steve is (check the hi-hat on "Save Your Water", then listen again to "Time To Move On"). Or let me put it like this: To me it seems not Marsh's natural inclination to play like this. Anyway, this is nitpicking.

While Tom's bandmates do a good job as lead singers, their craft as songwriters could be - apart from Mike Campbell - a bit more developed. Especially Marsh and Tench let me down here a little bit. But I'll get to that in the discussion of the songs.

What I really do like is that the songs bleed into one another. They really made an Album here, yet they avoid the burden of the concept album. Brilliant!

 

Trailer: I already liked the "single" (I hesitate to call it that, since I only bought the download... shame on me) when it came out, and far better than the 80s version at that. Now they nailed the core of the song, in my view.

Dreams of Flying: Classic Petty! Could have been on You're Gonna Get it!, instead of, say, Magnolia (which I also love). I wonder how he does it. Still cranking out great songs in his unique style that are different enough from his other timeless classics to stand on their own, but at the same time sound unmistakably Petty.

Beautiful Blue: Like I said elsewhere, I think this is easily one of his most beautiful songs. Great chord changes, wonderful interplay of the band, beautiful solos... what else can you say?

Beautiful World: Somewhat sub standard. I would be ashamed to contribute a song like this to an album that also has Tom Petty songs on it. That's easy for me to say, since I will never be in that situation, but even if I were, I would hold back such a song. It's just not good enough. The song itself. Mike tries to save the day with a psychedelic guitar solo, but let's face it: "you can't chrome a turd", to quote one Mr. Tom Petty.

I Forgive It All: Another Petty gem. Between Beautiful Blue and this one, Beautiful World cannot stand a chance. But that's me. I've always had a weak spot for Tom's acoustic material. Just because he can write such beautiful tunes. This is definitely one of them. Somehow reminds me of No More off of Echo and Topanga Cowgirl from the first Mudcrutch album.

The Other Side of the Mountain: The song itself might be lightweight, but not as shallow as Beautiful World, plus it has a deeper power to it that the band brings out very successfully. Good one!

Hope: Totally agree with Shelter. I don't really get it, although I appreciate the sixties / British Invasion / psychedelic vibe.

Welcome to Hell: Seriously? Welcome to Satan's beach party, maybe. Let's go have potato salad!

Save Your Water: Also a very nice one, right in the Byrdsian vein that's always been part of the Mudcrutch dna. Love it!

Victim of Circumstance: Campbell really saves his reputation as a lead vocalist that somehow suffered since his shaky "I Don't Wanna Fight" on Echo (again!). Really like this one! A whole other league than "I Don't Wanna Fight".

Hungry No More: Nothing spectacular, nothing exceptionally touching... but still a good song. Shelter said it already.

 

Swagger, yeah, that might be it! "2" is a totally worthy follow up to the first album, in my opinion.

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 ^ Good one. Interesting read, thanks for the sharing. I hope you'll one day will "get" both Beautiful World and Welcome To Hell. I think I can sense where you come from on these, but still.. in the end, I think you are wrong. So it goes. :) 

---

So, I finally been able to give the vinyl edition of “2” some listen. And hereby I thought to add a few aspects to my previous review. A what’s what in terms of technicalities, as it were.

For starters, what matters most - It sounds bloody fantastic!! A few moments of goosebumps on first run through (and I’m sure my neighbors agree). Not sure how the recordings, mixing and mastering been managed this time, compared to the very audiophile exercise and analogue ideals of the first album. My guess is that this is more down the normal procedure route, what with digital processing, the overdubs involved and all that. But either way, the clean, warm and dynamic sound translates well back to analogue.

There’s a full richness in sound and it’s hard to tell how much better it would’ve/could’ve sounded as a double LP. As it is, the album is a few minutes over the 40 mark, split between two sides of pristine vinyl, which is just about good enough to make for full quality and I can see how this is really beyond pushing it for a double, even if I do see it as a clear case of the somewhat unwieldy 3-side concept. (Again, here the first album really excelled with some roughly 15 minutes more in total, and an average of just about 14 minutes on each of the four LP sides, which meant plenty of space for the ultra high quality grooves not to rub shoulders, so to speak.) And for “2” we didn’t even get the Hi-Res CD to accompany the vinyl as we did last time around. Too bad, since it may have been even more useful this time. But, like I said.. this is mere ponderings, since the album still sounds really good.

And, further.. on to what’s less important. Looks.

Not totally surprisingly, the artwork looks great in 12”. So, the back, just as the CD edition, comes with plain.. well, nothing but red color and white print, basically. In that respect, it’s somewhat less exciting than the first album. However, this, like the predecessor, despite missing a disc, is a fold out and the inside art looks great. As does the 12” “Ltd Edition Art Print” included. (Which leads me to wonder how “limited” this first print vinyl edition is, anyway?). I am a sucker for extras like that, when, occasionally, they are well made like this. When it comes to the inner sleeve, the good thing is that it’s plastic lining. What’s missing on there (or on other inlays, incidentally also missing if so) are, as has been discussed, the lyrics. It would’ve been a nice touch to have them, but not really a deal breaker with me. (I for one, is happy camper just to read the Gone Gator publishing copyright on the back of the album, so… )

As for the spine.. well.. it is great that it’s made to go in style with the first album in the record shelf. Kudos. That said, I personally don’t like when albums, especially single disc albums, are so incredibly and unnecessarily wide.  (It was the same thing with the single disc edition of Hypnotic Eye. It’s just a record and it takes the space of three ordinary records and screams all over the room – “LOOK AT ME!!!! Don’t you dare move from this place, and if you do, you will have to hire a special hauling truck service just to get me and my fat spine over to the new place!”) I can see it with double discs or albums that are packed full with extras, but it’s a bit of a bad habit in these vinyl hipster days of ours. Ah, you say.. so I want less packaging for my money? Damn straight. Still.. it is a good looking package, it fits the first one beautifully.

And, like I said… what matters is sound. And this record sounds so good, that I doubt that I will have it leave the turntable for some weeks to come.

 

 

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Well, to this day, I don't get most of Hypnotic Eye, so... chances are Beautiful World and Welcome to Hell will suffer the same fate. :lol: To me, they just pale next to Petty tunes like Dreams of Flying and Beautiful Blue and I Forgive It All and Trailer and so forth.

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I've really been enjoying this album, just as much as the first one.  I really liked the original "Trailer" and wasn't expecting a re-make would improve on it but it does.  The last verse is great, it takes the song from a slice-of-life vignette to a more complete look back, even if the answers are still elusive.  "Beautiful World" sounds like late '70s L.A. power pop.  Who knew Randall Marsh was into that.  And who knew Benmont ("Welcome to Hell") had such a wicked sense of humor?  All of Petty's songs are very strong.  I think Mudcrutch is actually the better vehicle for Petty's songs these days.  Thought that back when the first Mudcrutch came out.  Mojo wasn't my thing at all and Hypnotic Eye didn't really excite me either.  Mudcrutch 2 will be essential road trip listening this summer though.

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On ‎2016‎-‎05‎-‎31 at 9:17 AM, TwoGunslingers said:

Well, to this day, I don't get most of Hypnotic Eye, so... chances are Beautiful World and Welcome to Hell will suffer the same fate. :lol: To me, they just pale next to Petty tunes like Dreams of Flying and Beautiful Blue and I Forgive It All and Trailer and so forth.

No need trying to convince you then.. :) To each their own. Of course. Beside, like I said, I think I really see your point. Obviously BW and WTH pale next to most, if not all of TP's compositions on the album. But that's not the way I listen to them. To me, they might be somewhat, let's say generic on paper. It's text book Garage vs text book Honky Tonk, right? Nowhere near as exciting as the structure and lyrics of your average TP tune, agreed. And accordingly they are not single material. No, they have different things working for them, helping them both to stand out in their own right and to fit the flow and feel of the album nicely. In the case of BW, it's some kind of frolicking energy, some cool, if somewhat downplayed guitar and bass work, as well as great harmonies and a middle 8, that makes it all exciting despite a weaker foundation; in the case of WTH it's the raw powers, the craft showcased and the lyrics, that really add loads to the album, IMO. 

These songs do not equal TP songs, right, they complement them, broadens the perspective, spreads the vibe. That is not an easy task, without making an album hotchpotch in the process. But as I see it these songs (and TL's and MC's too) succeed, and that is part of their qualities, despite my initial fear and scepticism. Well.. again, to each their own. I just really dig this right now. :)

That said.. RM's vocals could have been a tad more exciting, sure, and his drumming on the song a bit more happening too. Not every song benefits from a Stan Lynch style approach, but this, to my ear, seems to do so. But as has been pointed out, there seems to have been an instruction guiding these sessions, for RM not to "go places" with his drumming. To leave whatever soul there should be to TP's bass lines. I don't know..

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On ‎02‎.‎06‎.‎2016 at 11:18 AM, Shelter said:

That said.. RM's vocals could have been a tad more exciting, sure, and his drumming on the song a bit more happening too. Not every song benefits from a Stan Lynch style approach, but this, to my ear, seems to do so. But as has been pointed out, there seems to have been an instruction guiding these sessions, for RM not to "go places" with his drumming. To leave whatever soul there should be to TP's bass lines. I don't know..

Yeah... for some reason, that's just the sound they go for: Don't let the drummer get too busy! Or hardly anyone, for that matter. Which works most of the time, or at all times, for Petty's songs. I would even go as far as to claim it's part of his trademark sound since, probably, Full Moon Fever. The four-to-the-floor drum beat is a Jeff Lynne influence. I read somewhere that Jeff almost always prefers the drums to go boom-smack-boom-smack since he first heard disco. And while he has a point, I think that, at the end of the day, it has to be a style that suits the drummer. Phil Jones did a great Job on FMF, Stan could pull it off brilliantly on ITGWO, although he hated it, and Steve can play anything anyway. But I sense - though I don't know why, exactly - that Marsh would like to play more, or differently. Don't know why this never really occured to me on the first Mudcrutch album.

Nevertheless - great album!

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Trailer----I never really connected with the original song the way others have but now find myself curious as to what I'd make of it. I do notice the lack of Benmont's flourishes he played in the original and kinda miss it, but I find myself humming it in my head during that part. Anyway, I like this song. I think it was a good choice as an album opener and really has a nice uptempo contrast with the sad and somewhat wistful lyrics. I can handle harmonica in very small doses and this song takes it right up to the edge without going over.

 

Dreams of Flying---That opening is great! Whatever chord he's playing and the way Tom's voice sounds with that opening lyric, is damn catchy. So much so, I don't want to overplay this song. The bride is great, this whole song is really good!

 

Beautiful Blue---I was surprised at how long this song was. At first it felt like the album hits a wall or a large speed bump, but very quickly on the first listen, I took to it. It's quite a beautiful, tender song. However, if I’m not in the mood for it, the tune drags, just endless instrumental noodling between verses and chorus, but when I am in the mood, the song’s a deep melody to dive into, meandering becomes a pleasure.

 

Beautiful World---I like it. At first it seemed a bit too sugary pop but it has deceptive staying power, perhaps anchored around that great bridge that keeps building up and up. It’s grown on me quite a bit and is one of my favorite songs on the record. A simple statement with power and meaning. I like Randall Marsh’s voice too. It sounds young.

 

Forgive it All---like it musically but not some of the lyrics, particularly the "can't change..."part. A nice downbeat, gentle song.

 

The Other Side of the Mountain---pretty good. It's raucous and really fun to listen to. I also quite enjoy Tom Leadon’s voice. It veers close to what I picture a stereotypical bluegrass number sounds like but pulls back and is its own unique take on that style. I like it a lot and it has only grown better with repeated listens.

 

Hope---a fun stomper. I think it would've been good to hear Randall throw in some fills, though.

 

Welcome to Hell---This is entertaining! Some very funny lyrics and I like Benmont's voice. The change he does with the organ early on really elevates the song, making it more than just a rockabilly tune. 

 

Save Your Water——I don’t really feel one way or the other about this song. I guess it’s one of the weaker ones on here.

 

Victim of Circumstance---I like it, but not what I was thinking it would be, veering a bit too close to generic 50s rock. I like Mike’s singing in I Don’t Want To Fight and like it here as well. 

 

Hungry No More——A very sad and well done song, a nice intro; it almost feels like something from Southern Accents or something, very nice playing. The town breaking his heart and carrying on is a really good lyric. The descending riff is nice too. Overall it’s a very good number to end the record song, defiance wrapped in melancholia; Tom’s voice effectively plaintive. The instrumental soloing is different and powerful, I’m not sure if it’s Tom Leadon or Mike and it doesn’t matter, fitting in a way that this unlikely band’s second album ends with all the musicians playing together, unified without a leader.

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It's been two months since this bad boy came out and I guess it's time to give my two cents on Mudcrutch's long awaited 2nd album, 2. Before I go into the album itself, I do find the naming of the album to be unimpressive. Same goes for the artwork. It's almost as no thought was put into it. Sure, I don't expect thought provoking title for a band whose whole existence and demeanor is that of subtlety. It's definitely not a big deal but it is worth a mention that the title and art work does come off as uninspired. Long gone are the days of Damn the Torpedoes when it comes to naming conventions lol. Any who, onto the review of the album itself.

Trailer: An interesting call back to the rocky days of '84 when the Heartbreakers were trying to make a stamp with their own brand of southern rock that ended up turning into a typical 80s cocaine induced mess. Out of the wreck that is Southern Accents, "Trailer", a B-Side to "Don't Come Around Here No More" has been often highlighted by fans and critics alike as a great song that got cut an album that needed songs with weight. With it's grungy guitars, great beat by Stan Lynch, punchy bass line and melancholy lyrics backed by Tom's nasally wail, the song was an uptempo country rocker with a somber message that showed that the band could do country rock well. It was and is still great!

This bring me to. Mudcrutch's version. It's been 22 years and with Tom's age comes a different perspective on it, both musically and in mood. Now I know that I'm in the minority in that I do not care for this version as much as the original. I find it to be rather weak compared to the '84 TPATH version. That mainly has to do with the fact that the tempo of the song is slower, the drums are more just sitting there then driving the song and the tone shifts from a young man lementing about his recent mistakes to that of a older, wiser man looking back on those mistakes and able to reflect on them. It goes from being a song about "What the hell did I do wrong?" to "I know the mistakes I made and can look back on them now as things that made me, me." I'm fine with that message and change as it suits the fact that the band is older now. However, it just doesn't suit my tastes overall. This version has grown on me, but I still think it isn't as good. Because of that tone and mood shift, I do find it to be an odd lead off choice to the album. It lacks the punch that "Shady Grove" had and I think "Welcome to Hell" would have been an interesting and inspired choice to lead off the album honestly. Side note: I think the Drive-By Truckers are what TPATH's Southern Accents could have been.

Dreams of Flying: Like the previous song, this one sits more in the TPATH territory thenMudcrutch. Easily comes across as vintage TPATH from between 91-95. A Wildflowers sounding song with a touch of ITGWO production. Now don't get me wrong. I think this song is great. It's got a great riff, it's an uptempo rocker, Ben flourishes on the keyboards and Mike's solo is vintage. The song works well. However, it's not a Mudcrutch sounding song. It easily could have also been on Hypnotic Eye. The only difference is different drummer and rhythm guitarist. That's it. It's a nice song gets things pumped up and going but it lacks that Mudcrutch touch that makes the 1st album so good and so memorable.

Beautiful Blue: Now this, this! is the first truly Mudcrutch song of the album. The song oozes a beautiful mystic that "Crystal River" did. The opening drum groove and the blending of Tom's guitar and Mike's b-bender (or slide, or both? Can't really tell) is great. Add is Ben's great keyboard work and Tom's bass playing and you get a hauntingly atmospheric song that is lifted up with a beautiful chorus. This song is easily one of the best this album has to offer. It's perfection. If you haven't listened to this one, what are you waiting for?

Beautiful World: Randall Marsh's sole contribution to the album is an interesting one. It definitely has a "When the Time Comes" feel but it's not a grungy rocker, but a power-pop song. So it fits into this weird area of not TPATH, not Mudcrutch, but Code Blue/Cheap Trick lol. I would say it does fall more into the Mudcrutch territory but it just feels like an oddball seeing as it isn't straight rock or a blend of country rock. Granted, I think the song, although lightweight works well. That familiar riff gets a face lift and turned into something unique. I also think Marsh's singing isn't all that bad. He's not gonna be a world beater as a singer but his voice fits the song and like the other non-Petty compositions, I think the songs suit their voices more than they ever would Tom's. Nothing special here, but I do crank it up if not for that guitar solo.

I Forgive It All: Are you noticing a theme yet? That the album doesn't have a particular Mudcrutch vibe to it? Well if you haven't yet, then you should notice by now. For a lot of people here, this song is a stand out, considered one of the best off album if not the best. And you know what? It's a damn good song. A nice reflective acoustic ballad that is in vein of like "Something Good Coming" but even more sparse on the arrangement. The lyrics are powerful, the mood is somber yet uplifting in the fact that the character of the song is able to find solace in forgiveness. And after the previous song, it brings the tone back down after having it amped up. Now, as great as this song is, I have to reiterate for the 100th time, this song just doesn't feel like a Mudcrutch song. The sound and tone of the song seems like a song that you would see if Tom would ever venture to do a solo album. A song that is personal and reflective in a manner that he might not have felt the Heartbreakers could capture it. Seeing as he said in an interview that he has no interest in doing another solo album, it seems like a song that would fit better on a solo album got put on this LP because it was too good to waste.

The Other Side of the Mountain: A bluegrass song? This works! It works well! I at first like a lot of people, didn't think too much of this song. However, the more I listen to it, the more it has grown on me. It's the 2nd song of the album that fits the Mudcrutch vibe. I could easily see them doing a song like this back in the day. Though the lyrics are somewhat lightweight like all the non-Petty songs on the album, but it works really well. Tom's bass line on this is great and drives this Appalachian steamer forward. I also think Tom Leadon does a good job on vocals. (I know I'm one of the few seeing as I also like "Queen of the Go-Go Girls" a lot. His voice just fits the song much better. Just listening to TP sing his verses, you can tell his type of southern draw just doesn't fit the song's tone at all. However, Tom Leadon with the great Herb Pederson singing harmony with him, works tremendously well, especially after TP's first verse, fantastic. This is a lovely barn burner of a song that is great. As Shelter said, this will be surely an underrated gem from the band.

Hope: I honestly don't have much to say about this one. It a Paul Revere and the Raiders/She's The One style song. It's honestly just there. Doesn't rreally have a Mudcrutch touch, it's bland, it's just there,

Welcome to Hell: Benmont has over the past few years shown that it's not Mike that is the most underrated talent in the band, it's him. This song is great. That opening line is amazing, a great counterpoint to "The Waiting". Instead of "Oh baby don't it feel like heaven right now?" we get "Welcome to Hell, population me, the local attraction:the heartbreak sea." That is amazing wit boys and girls. Samuel Clemons would be proud. Like TOSOTM, this one is also a barn burner. But it isn't a bluegrass diddy. No, it's a nice boogie woogie gem. Now, I will say, as great as it is, it definitely feels like this could be either a Mudcrutch song or, one that Ben didn't put on his solo album which it could have easily been on. I love it. Ben's voice is nice, he rips through it on the keys and gets your blood pumped up. It just makes me think of all the songs he could have contributed to TPATH that we never got. He's TPATH's George Harrison.

Save Your Water: This is my favorite song off the album. Why? It hits all the notes I wanted this album to be in concept and totality. It's country-rock throw back like the first album, with a great late era Byrds undertone with a jangly guitar riff, witty Dylan/Petty lyrics and a CSN inspired harmony. This song is great. It does have tinges of the Byrds great cover song "Wasn't Born to Follow" but is it stands on it's own as what a Mudcrutch song. This song with "Beautiful Blue" are the closest thing we get to the Mudcrutch sound and vibe. I could easily see this on the first album. Drop "Bootleg Flyer" and put this on there and that album gets even better. Tom's bass line is also really good to. That's another theme throughout this album, his playing and groove is very good. I may be in the minority, but for 3, I want them to go back to the country-rock and get songs like this and "Orphan of the Storm" and make an album that people can put in the pantheon of great country-rock. They obviously have it in them. The only problem I have with this song, and it's a minor one is that Ben's organ is muted. Other than that, this is perfection. If you don't like this song or get it, I suggest just listening to it over and over and you'll discover all the great layers this song has to offer.

Victim of Circumstance: This song is a million times better then "Bootleg Flyer" though it has about the same riff. It's nice to listen to while driving because of the fast pace of the song. I find Mike's vocals to be fine. He's never known as a great singer but I think with grungier songs like this, his voice works. If anything this song just sounds like the Knobs and not Mudcrutch. A nice lightweight rocker but nothing fantastic.

Hungry No More: And now we're at the close of the album. For some reason it reminds of the a mix of "Shadow People" and the Byrds' "Welcome Back Home". Not sure why. I think musically the song is very good but I honestly don't care for the vocal though Herb Pederson does an excellent job again on high harmony. I don't, just have mixed feelings on this one. I'm waiting for it to grow on me. Hm.

Overall, this is a good album if not a slightly disappointing follow up to their first release. I'm probably the only one who thinks that but their first album is one of my favorite albums of all time and is in my eyes, TP"s best work of the 00s. And that's saying a lot because Hypnotic Eye and The Last DJ are both great albums. Maybe I'm at fault for having this view of wanting them to soldier on into the area of country-rock that TPATH never really has or will do that they did so well their first time. This album just sounds disjointed thematically and sequentially which you really can't get away with anymore. While the songs are for the most part very good to great, a lot of them just don't sound like Mudcrutch songs, but like a TPATH song or a Ben song or a Knob song. The best comparison I can make is that this album, is the Traveling WIlburys Vol. 3 for them. A good follow up that is slightly disappointing and disjointed in sound compared to the original.

3.5/5 stars

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^ Interesting read! I find it to be great insight on several issues. Not everything is on the level with my own take, but with time I´ve come to feel quite a bit in agreement with your over all thesis. That is, the material and styles being slightly removed from the supposed Mudcrutch core vibe found on the debut. I sense it too, more than I did at first. But I´m not sure what to make of it. 

On the one hand I find it useful to ponder not only what they sounded like the last time, but also what they sounded like back in the 70s and what they, as individuals are up to now. Thus I usually come to terms with the scattered qualities quite well - seeing how this is all people with a pre-Heartbreaker era personalities and tastes that will shine through and if anything there are certain aspects of TPATH that caught the Mudcrutch vibe as much as the other way around. And unlike you perhaps, I feel the sequencing works pretty well too. On the other hand, it hard to ignore the strong sense that certain moments really DO feel a lot like a certain TPATH mode or a TP solo mode, that the songs are to a large extent left overs. Period. It´s there. No denying it, good as they are. So, perhaps a cover or two could have helped saving the vibe, seen from this specific angle, like it sure did on the first record. Still I personally don´t feel all the "original" songs on the stellar brilliant (agreed!) first LP to be totally in line either. To me the tightness in style it got going has got at least as much to do with sound and production style, than with the material. So, I don´t know... But it´s interesting and I appreciate you recognizing this as a "problem". A problem this album sure had already on paper, as it were.

 

21 hours ago, martin03345 said:

It just makes me think of all the songs he could have contributed to TPATH that we never got. He's TPATH's George Harrison.

 

What a cool way of putting it! This may come as a surprise to some. To me not so much. Without knowing what, if anything, he had to offer in terms of songwriting back in the days, I´ve always seen the "Third" man as the magician of any band he´s in.  

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^Thanks Shelter! I always love reading your insights too and it's not because I agree with your critiques and opinions a vast majority of the time ;).

I honestly think a cover or two would have easily fit on the album and would be a nice call back to the first album and to their roots. There's no shame in covering material on an album, hell many a artists have made their bones covering Dylan. A band that does cover songs live and does them as well as these guys do and did on the first album should be able to do one and make it fit perfectly and seemlessly. I mean look at "June Apple" or "Shady Grove". Who would've thought those would've worked so well and be some of the highlights of the first album? "Six Days" is also fantastic and shows that this band can have their own, crisp, country-rock sound and 2 could have used something like that and the only songs the album that mirror that sentiment are "Beautiful Blue", "Other Side of the Mountain" and "Save Your Water". I do feel the first album had a tighter sound then this one. The only songs that stick out as not really Mudcrutch songs from the first go are the two weakest songs from that album which are "Bootleg Flyer" and "Topanga Cowgirl" which are also very TPATH

Just imagine them doing a cover of "Nashville West" or "Buckaroo" or "Drug Store Truck Drivin' Man" on the album and it makes for a tighter sounding album. Or "Tiffany Queen". The list goes on.

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I listen to Mudcrutch 2 much more than the first one; it's a compact album with an overall good flow and a higher than usual percentage of enjoyable songs. It's a good progression from their first record; they clearly didn't try to recreate what worked last time and instead grew as a band by letting everyone take a turn singing.

The Other Side of the Mountain could be the high point of the record (pun not intended); the banjos and Tom Leadon's voice work well together; when Mr. Petty takes a verse it creates a pleasing contrast between their voices give the song a whole other, interesting flavor. The tune's propulsion is fun. 

The album feels less country than the first one which I enjoy.

cheers

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On 8/3/2016 at 0:40 AM, martin03345 said:

Just imagine them doing a cover of "Nashville West" or "Buckaroo" or "Drug Store Truck Drivin' Man" on the album and it makes for a tighter sounding album. Or "Tiffany Queen". The list goes on.

So it does! Now having gotten to know this album fairly well, I'd say... in an usually "unfair" and after the fact kind of way that is purely imaginary.. that what would make take this album that last notch probably IS a cover, that ties the project down to it's roots a bit in terms of sound and vibe. I already said I find songs like the Trailer version and Save Your Water to be what keeps it duly stuck on its aim, so to speak. Unlike you, although, again, I see where you come from in this, I can find a decent fit for many of the other songs too.* But at the end of the day, perhaps I find a song like Hope a bit too odd in this context. Perhaps even Beautiful World.** Having had the guts to leave them out (they would still be fun b-sides) and replacing them with covers of serious gravity would be not only reasonable, but all for the best. Las time - leaving the traditionals aside, where I find Shady Grove to be absolute killer and June Apple to be absolute filler - both Lover of the Bayou and Six Days on The Road, to me, feels like perfect material and perfect versions to help lift and tie together the album. Especially that LOTB was a stroke of genius - like the secret missing link that solves the riddle, ready the equation. I don't see why that's not appropriately recognized and appreciated and why the same line of thinking couldn't have come in handy when readying "2" as well. The list of possible songs goes on indeed.. the ones you mention are great, as would other obvious picks be, like early era Neil Young or The Band or another go at the Byrds (perhaps Chesnut Mare this time?!), or a more strange one, by all means, I could even see them do an odd dusty take of Lucinda's Car Wheels on a Gravel Road.. it doesn't have to be old songs.. As always it's got to do with vibe, style and believable vocal delivery. Anyway - "2" would, I've come to realize, benefit from at least one cover that ties the project a bit to its' roots in some way.

 

On 8/3/2016 at 0:40 AM, martin03345 said:

The only songs that stick out as not really Mudcrutch songs from the first go are the two weakest songs from that album which are "Bootleg Flyer" and "Topanga Cowgirl" which are also very TPATH

 

I'd say Topanga Cowgirl works alright. Bootleg Flyer on the other hand.. certainly a slight case of filler. I would agree that is the song of that lot that misses the Mudcrutch mark by most. Again though, I'd say June Apple, if slightly Mudcrutch in vibe, is nevertheless a waste of valuable studio/record time. It does next to nothing. Nor does TL's workshop in songwriting, Queen of the Go-Go Girls, which to me is just dumb. Maria may be a borderline filler case too.. but as I've been saying.. at least these all "sound" more or less like the general idea of Mudcrutch type music, which can't be said of all of "2". Besides, cutting one of them to make room for yet another cover on the first LP, would indeed feel like a stretch, I can imagine. Only too bad that TP hadn't already penned Red River.. cause if he had, and still he did not use it for Mudcrutch, with a twang, and that warm and spontaneous sound of their first LP, that would've been the real crime. I'd take that one, imaginary as it is, over QoTGGG any day.. Oh, well.. These are interesting things to ponder.

 

---

*Beatiful Blue and TOSOTM, even Dreams of Flying, Hungry No More and I Forgive It All, all being great songs that suffice as believable Mudcrutch songs to me, if not right on spot as such.    

**These two and maybe a few other "moments" (that, again, may have as much to do with sound as with composition) on the album contribute to a slightly scattered and unfocused totality, a list of various songs as much as an album. (Again, I knew this would be the risk, when hearing of the concept of all writing, all singing.)

 

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See, though "June Apple" can be viewed as filler, I think it works well because you get to hear Ben blasting that Hammond organ at full speed with nice guitar interplay and a lovely thumping bass. In a sense, to use the Byrds as an example again, it may not be a revolutionary instrumental work like "Nashville West", but it is fun and a show case of the bands musicianship like "Green Apple Quick Step". It's filler that works for me. And I do agree with "Oh Maria" though that was one that took a while to grow on me. I appreciate it now for it's lovely lyrics and delicate touch. And I think we agree on what the most Mudcrutch songs of 2 are though minus "I Forgive It All". Also, I'm not saying they should have overloaded 2 with covers, but one or two of them would have, like you said, brought them back to the roots of the band and sound that is suppose to make them unique and not just as the media would say, "Another TP project that sounds like the Heartbreakers".

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On July 27, 2016 at 0:38 PM, martin03345 said:

Ben's voice is nice, he rips through it on the keys and gets your blood pumped up. It just makes me think of all the songs he could have contributed to TPATH that we never got. He's TPATH's George Harrison.

 Good point! This is worthy of its own topic but I'll comment on it here. A little while ago I heard the title track from Benmont's album and it's really good! Not only does Ben have an interesting and pleasant voice, he makes a lot of neat choices with his songwriting. At around fifty seconds the song goes in an interesting direction. The bridge is really good as well.

Anyway, if/when TPATH release another album, what would be good is some songs written by Benmont. Maybe even get his voice on there as well.

I agree with your observation martin and it's a shame he didn't have songwriting input with TPATH in addition to his piano and keyboard prowess.

cheers

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On July 28, 2016 at 10:23 AM, Shelter said:

What a cool way of putting it! This may come as a surprise to some. To me not so much. Without knowing what, if anything, he had to offer in terms of songwriting back in the days, I´ve always seen the "Third" man as the magician of any band he´s in.  

 Based on speculation fueled by interviews and songwriting credits, I think it's like this:

Tom---in charge, main songwriter

Mike---2nd in charge, brings in riffs, melodies and chords, sometimes gets credit based on his contribution

Ben---Much appreciated by Tom for all the tasteful, melodic and/or sparse contributions in studio and especially on stage but not a part of the songwriting. That's a shame.

Scott---Just happy to be there on stage.

Ron----Happy to be back in the band, part of a rock solid rhythm section, appreciates moments like Fault Lines and Two Men Talking live.

Steve---much appreciated by Tom, fits his vision for their music, excellent time, can do anything he's asked. Having a good time on stage and in the studio.

 Nothing surprising but I wonder what the band would be like if there were room for others songwriting contributions. There may be some unknown potential riffs, chord progressions or completed songs that would sound great.

 

cheers

 

 

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