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MaryJanes2ndLastDance

Thoughts on the Two TPATHS

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Fittingly enough I was watching Two Men Talking from Soundstage when I again thought about the two differetn TPATHS.

From their beginning the band's style of music had more of a pop-rock-n-roll feel peaking with FMF which is pretty much one uptempo number after another.

Sure, not every song was a Too Much Ain't Enough  or I Need To Know but even when they played ballads or slower numbers, the vibe was different than what came later.

 My Life/Your World is a song that grooves along at a good midtempo. I like it for the most part, it's a bit strange, heavy doesn't really sound like anything else. But those types of songs don't dominate Let Me Up and they have a different feel. I think someone on another forum quoted here said it better, that with WF and I'm paraphrasing, it became more of Tom as songwriter separate from Tom as part of the band. 

If the two first albums, while interesting on their own, were building up to DTT, then the next couple albums felt like variations on that style of songwriting; I think Rebels is another attempt to achieve Refugee, especially the way both songs begin with different instruments coming in.

I think a lot of what people find appealing with the Heartbreakers, not the main thing but something they may not even be aware of is how well all the instruments blend together. I'm not talking about subtle stuff that Benmont mentions in the making of DTT, but just the way the instruments work together; it's their sound and you hear it in so many of their albums.

But Wildflowers changes that. Gone is the thought of keeping to succinct songs and midtempo becomes king. I think the midtempo numbers take over for the rest of their recordings, with some exception until Hypnotic Eye which was a deliberate attempt to play more rock-n-roll.

I think the band is very good at the midtempo songs, and at establishing a heavy groove, like Two Men Talking. But when I look at the albums I see a continuation of approach, from WF, through She's The One (which had unused WF tunes), Echo and the Last Dj and Mojo.

Now some songs have more of an upbeat nature but still, there's something different in the songs from WF through Mojo. Heck, Mojo could be the ultimate culmination of that sound with the longest, heaviest midempo tracks they've put to record.

There's a big difference between I Need To Know and Room At the Top and it's probably why they kept on as a band, Tom in many interviews said he kept pushing for them to go in new directions on record. I just find interesting that there's such a distinct line between how the band changed.

What do you think?

 

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Absolutely. Myself I've always viewed it as "pre-Stan" vs. "post-Stan", even though that wasn't the reason for it but rather a result of it. I go back and forth on which TPATH era I enjoy more. It just takes such balls for a band to put such an emphasis on growth, which I do think gets understated. It's a big part of what makes them so ageless and great. 

The obvious radical shift between ITGWO and Wildflowers (at Tom's peak of popularity, no less) is the biggest example, but at that point he and the HB were a well-established act who had already etched their place in history. The willingness to deviate from the DTT "full speed ahead" approach for Hard Promises was to me an even gutsier call, just a few years and 1 hit album into their careers. That didn't mark a massive shift but a lesser group would've rested on their laurels and just tried to cash in on what was working for as long as they could. The trust they had in each other to create great music no matter what direction they went in... that's what really put them over the top.

 

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5 hours ago, CrescentMoonFever said:

Myself I've always viewed it as "pre-Stan" vs. "post-Stan", even though that wasn't the reason for it but rather a result of it.

  It's a fitting dividing line.

5 hours ago, CrescentMoonFever said:

go back and forth on which TPATH era I enjoy more.

  I understand. It's odd but I listen to a lot of live TPATH so it's refreshing to return to the studio albums. I guess there are more high points in the pre-WF period but I also like quite a bit that followed. 

5 hours ago, CrescentMoonFever said:

It just takes such balls for a band to put such an emphasis on growth, which I do think gets understated.

 I agree. Following up DTT with Hard Promises was doing the unexpected. But I don't think Long After Dark was a step backwards either, nor is it them treading water as Tom suggested, it's good the band put out another more rocking album after some of the thoughtful and moodier Hard Promises. 

The band never truly went experimental, no Heartbreaker's Mystery Tour but...within their own context their sound definitely evolved. Ironically enough, I think Echo and the Last Dj are both quite similar, though the latter feels more optimistic to me, overall. I guess if you're in the mood for albums to drift along to, it's what a lot of these records feel good for.

It's interesting to listen to something like Nightwatchman followed up by Echo (the song). Or Finding Out by Good Enough. 

 I guess what happened, is the template changed for the band, from rock-n-roll to something with more of a groove, with heavy amounts of introspection and even the blues. That's a pretty big shift. With the lack of hits following Walls most of the different areas they went to as a band stayed confined to the records and residencies. When I posted this topic I was strictly thinking of the albums but when I think about it, the WF tour introduced the longer jams in concert.

Prior to that tour, what were the songs that really got an extended live version? Breakdown. Jammin' Me. Runaway Trains. Dog on the Run. Shout. Kings Road. A Thing About You. Hm. But did any of those hit the ten or eleven minute Mary Jane or It's Good To Be King? 

 

 

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18 hours ago, MaryJanes2ndLastDance said:

 I guess what happened, is the template changed for the band, from rock-n-roll to something with more of a groove, with heavy amounts of introspection and even the blues. That's a pretty big shift. 

My guess what happened, is age.

Seriously, this topic is in many ways to hard and complicated, perhaps even pointless, for me to wrap my head around. I admit as much. But it's also interesting. And I think alot of good points are being put across above. But largely, what it comes down to is them being people, professional artistic people at that. This means life goes on and perspective and temper change. If you keep going for the same quick hump-hump-ohh when you're 50 or 60 as you did at 25 or 30, then something is wrong in your creative core, then chanses are your a one-trick pony, a fake or a sell out. For them to develop a more "introspection" side to their music over 40 years career is the most natural thing. Besides the shift is not at all sudden to me. They did things slow and weird early on, they did things simply rocking out to their last breath. Both dimensions been there throughout, although admittedly weight slowly shifted - on average - towards less bpm and more minutes so to speak. I just never saw the dramatic change. But I suppose it's easy to hear WF as a deeper and more mature record than ITGWO in some ways, and HP as more mellow and grown up, established, than DTT. (Or LAD as threading water for that matter - jeeze what a misconception of what that album ended up being) To view Mojo or LDJ as indulging vast projects that TPATH or YGGI could ever have been. But then again...?!

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On October 14, 2017 at 4:32 PM, Shelter said:

For them to develop a more "introspection" side to their music over 40 years career is the most natural thing.

 Sure, that makes sense. But it's not as if the majority of the songs necessarily had to become more mellow or simply groove oriented; and as a counter example I'll point to the live shows where they continued to play uptempo numbers like Runnin', Need To Know, Refugee, You Wreck Me, American Girl, Driving Down to Georgia, Black Leather Woman, etc. without losing a step.

On October 14, 2017 at 4:32 PM, Shelter said:

They did things slow and weird early on,

 I agree; and I think it's a subject worthy of its own topic. There's a level of weirdness in TPATH's music that is rarely mentioned. I think without this they'd be more like Springsteen, Bob Seger, etc. Instead they've recorded Luna, Don't Do Me Like That with the surprising double-time bridge, Don't Come Around, It Ain't Me, It's Rainin' Again, MyLife/Your World, Full Grown Boy, Money Becomes King and others I can't recall at this moment.

On October 14, 2017 at 4:32 PM, Shelter said:

towards less bpm and more minutes so to speak.

Nicely phrased.

On October 14, 2017 at 4:32 PM, Shelter said:

I just never saw the dramatic change.

Really? I find that difficult to believe as you've definitely commented on the style and subtleties of Stan Lynch's drumming, etc.

On October 14, 2017 at 4:32 PM, Shelter said:

But I suppose it's easy to hear WF as a deeper and more mature record than ITGWO in some ways, and HP as more mellow and grown up, established, than DTT.

 Yeah, I sometimes forget about Into the Great Wide Open (good album cover) as the last hurrah with Stan. I think Full Moon Fever influenced ITGWO and while it's not as good of a record, it still has a lot of high points. 

On October 14, 2017 at 4:32 PM, Shelter said:

LAD as threading water for that matter - jeeze what a misconception of what that album ended up being)

Sure there was nothing really different about them doing another rock record but...one should never underestimate the power of a good rock song which most of his album has. Aside from some of Let Me Up, I don't think they'd record another proper rock-n-roll album in any way similar in vibe if not execution like the first three records till Hypnotic Eye, which certainly shouldn't count as repeating themselves!

cheers

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Two things.

1. I agree there IS a change to a more "mellow", on average, in terms of material. Again, I see most of this being due to Tom growing older, maturing. This to me is good and natural. Just as I see no dignity really in 70 yo punk rockers.

But my main point is I just don't see such change in material and mood as sudden, I see it as gradual, with part of the teenage kick or straight rocknroll never shed, and some introspect melloe groove being there from the start.

2. In terms of sound -what color songs, albums, mood - the change is also gradual. If this development, for me, is more genuinly directed from simple to intricate - even when recording methods at times gone back to more simple and "live" than they ever were even in the early days of the band. Again this is all a learning process. But granted, in terms of one sonic aspect - drumming - yes there IS certainly a suddenness to the change. (And perhaps THIS, the beat aspect of the sound, is the main sudden change you are thinking of as a deeper and bigger sudden change, what do I know).

To underline the difference between these two dimensions, I like to insist that there were plenty of the steady and slow, before Stan left. (In fact, there was so much of it that he left!) There are also plenty of later songs that may actually sound "steady and slow" with Steve, but that could and would be dynamic, full of temper with Stan, perhaps then coming off more like the older "mellow" stuff than a new type of music some seem to suggest? Again this is proof - to me - that any sudden big change in how and what Tom write may be at least in part an illusion.

In short. It happened. It happened slowly and for largely natural reasons. As sudden as it may seem in terms of how the drumming sounds.

As for the live situation, development, may really be a more problematic term. Not only did they not develop what they do much, over the last decade or two of their career. They hardly even changed it. In that sense, live there WAS a more marked sudden change taking place in terms of WHAT they did. After all, the change between a more evolving and album oriented approach, in the pre FMF-WF era and a post FMF-WF era, where the material from two or three albums did clog up and fixated the core set forever, is both deep and radical And fairly sudden (about 5 years). Again, this change was even more dramatically marked by the introduction of Steve's clockwise drumming style on the WF tour. But even so, since they kept playing the same set from thereon (at large, special shows aside), it's not fair to compare the development of the songs they recorded (but never played live) in the same light and the same argument, as I see it. They kept recording varied style songs in a way that was not matched by what they played live in general. To discuss HOW they played all those songs live, is a dead end.

Soundwise though - how they played the songs they did play (standards, covers and occasional rare stuff) - they did develop, perhaps ironically, into a more and more heavy and dynamic live band. In a sense becoming better and better. I don't see a suddenness to this either, though. Many of the songs they insisted on always playing live After 1995, are from that breakpoint era in sound, where Stan had most less to add, unfortunately. But hearing them at a recidency or especially hearing the albums of the last decade, one would (could) think that whatever changes there have been, however sudden they (not) have been, the development in some ways have come full circle (or like I like to see it, in major areas stayed the same) so that at what was to become the end of this band, Stan again could have found plenty of meaningful things to do. But bottom line is, I think that ultimately what any big or sudden change is all about in terms of Tom's hand with music, is that Jeff Lynne taught him to live machine like drumming. That and slowly and gradually becoming older, wiser, deeper and mellower.

That is, to me, any actual, substantial change in TPATH material 1976-2017 is gradual, slow, I'd say organic, at times subliminal even, while there have been one or two more drastic changes to their sound, that is more cosmetic. As in drumming or producer's input. Not that such could not be an important enough change, but to me it's important to make the distinction between the existential matters and the make up.

 

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2 hours ago, Shelter said:

Just as I see no dignity really in 70 yo punk rockers.

I understand. As an exception to many, and while not a punk I don't think but I saw footage of Iggy Pop recently, nearly 70, running around the stage and singing Lust For Life; which is inspiring.

2 hours ago, Shelter said:

I like to insist that there were plenty of the steady and slow, before Stan left. (In fact, there was so much of it that he left!)

 I wonder if he had toughed it out, considering how few new songs they'd generally play live he could've maybe enjoyed being on stage with them still. And with time, would've adapted or found something to enjoy with the mellower numbers, etc.

2 hours ago, Shelter said:

And perhaps THIS, the beat aspect of the sound, is the main sudden change you are thinking of as a deeper and bigger sudden change, what do I know).

No, it's more the songwriting that Tom did, which is why the change seems so prominent. If She's The One is largely unused Wildflowers tracks, the next two Heartbreakers records are Echo & The Last Dj, which seem to be in more of this newer, mellower (to a degree) style than before. It's as if Tom somehow reinvented the band which is interesting.

Now the lack of new singles could've just been a natural thing that would've happened all along; but it's interesting that this style of songwriting, aside from Wildflowers and I guess, Walls, isn't what the band is really associated with. 

I like both styles though, most of the live shows I listen to are with Steve on the drums and I find a lot of good tracks among both; and even with the change in style, which may have been something Tom was heading towards but seems abrupt and nearly uniformly distinct across records, there's still something different about them that they maintain which keeps them from sounding like their other contemporaries, like Seger, Springsteen, etc.

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2 hours ago, Shelter said:

it's not fair to compare the development of the songs they recorded (but never played live) in the same light and the same argument, as I see it. They kept recording varied style songs in a way that was not matched by what they played live in general. To discuss HOW they played all those songs live, is a dead end.

 My point was more age wasn't as much a deciding factor otherwise they would've completely transitioned to a more bluesy-groove oriented band instead of the hyper outro solos of Runnin' and American Girl, let alone their other uptempo numbers. 

It seems like Tom naturally evolved which was healthy for the band overall.

I respect Tom and the band for not pandering or falling into a rut when it comes to the records, even if some of what they released didn't appeal to me.

cheers

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4 hours ago, MaryJanes2ndLastDance said:

As an exception to many, and while not a punk I don't think but I saw footage of Iggy Pop recently, nearly 70, running around the stage and singing Lust For Life; which is inspiring.

Right. Iggy is an exception. Not sure how, but he does his thing with dignity, which at 70 should not be possible. It may be cause he worked simultaneously on a deeper level all along. But still.

 

4 hours ago, MaryJanes2ndLastDance said:

No, it's more the songwriting that Tom did, which is why the change seems so prominent.

Ok then. I respect your view, but then I really don't see it.

Let's try this fot fit: WF has a mellow core, for sure. (It's same era leftovers, not as much.) So does HC. But I'm not sure how Echo or HE (or even Mojo) is so much more "mellow" than say Hard Promises or Southern Accents (or even Let Me Up or ITGWO - quite a lot of lazy day groovy moments there). Just saying.. what I already said. :)

May be all the words.. or my English again, but I'm not sure you just disagree with what I say about the dimensional difference between material character and sound, how I perceive changes in both, but substantially and sudden changes just in case of the latter - or if you misunderstand what I try to say. It doesn't strike me from your reasoning or choice in quotes, that you quite get my point. If you just disagree with me though, that is more than fine. :D

What new singles got to do with this, beats me.

4 hours ago, MaryJanes2ndLastDance said:

I wonder if he had toughed it out, considering how few new songs they'd generally play live he could've maybe enjoyed being on stage with them still. And with time, would've adapted or found something to enjoy with the mellower numbers

Well. To me, the problem with that is, like I said, that live Tom seemed to stick firmly, for decades, with specifically those songs Stan did not seem to think that he had much to work with inside of, back in 89-95. It would not be fair to ask him to tough his personal nitemare out for quite that long. Just when he felt "god no-more", Tom decided "this is what Im gonna do!!" and kinda deep froze his live approach. And even IF Tom would've moved on a little with the material in the shows, mixing in more of everything else he wrote since Stan's departure, he still probably would have found Steve to be his "favorite drummer", even if I personally could imagine Stan being quite fantastic on a lot of said material (Echo, LDJ, Mojo, HE). All very hypothetical, even a month ago......

Oh well I digress. Interesting topic though! And it's your thread, but if it was mine, I'm pretty sure I'd call it "Thoughts on the thousand TPATHs".

Or maybe just "The One And Only TPATH".

But that's me.

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In Toms last interview, he says about a show where they all played particularly well and were in Toms hotel room enthusing about the show when Mike suggested playing 20 different songs at the next show. Tom said no way, but he knew Mike was serious and really wanted a change from the routine. I must say I did feel for Mike when I heard this.

 

 

 

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22 hours ago, Shelter said:

But I'm not sure how Echo or HE (or even Mojo) is so much more "mellow" than say Hard Promises or Southern Accents (or even Let Me Up

Another way to put is the energy is different in the songs from WF on; I think the all out fast song they record and release is Zero From Outer Space, it's a feel.  Oh, I guess Saving Grace counts. 

The songs aren't all mellow, but hover around the midtempo, some are longer, sometimes it feels like there's more emphasis on Tom as songwriter guy with guitar in front of the band than as part of the whole. But more, it's just a feeling, a shift in songwriting style. Sure, some of it was on ITGWO, like Dark of the Sun, I could see that appearing on Echo. While it wasn't a shift I liked at the time, I can appreciate it more now and pick up on different things happening in the songs that I hadn't noticed before. It's like that with a variety of art, you pick up a book that didn't connect years later and notice all sorts of things, etc.

I think the mellow numbers from Southern Accents or Hard Promises are still different from what happened from WF onwards. 

They did mellow numbers before but I feel the band overall became more of a mix of mellow numbers and heavier groove numbers from WF onward. It's another reason why Hypnotic Eye was probably viewed as a callback to their earlier records, while the songs weren't like the old songs, they had more of that upbeat rocking energy that the material from WF through Mojo largely didn't.

22 hours ago, Shelter said:

It would not be fair to ask him to tough his personal nitemare out for quite that long. Just when he felt "god no-more", Tom decided "this is what Im gonna do!!" and kinda deep froze his live approach. And even IF Tom would've moved on a little with the material in the shows, mixing in more of everything else he wrote since Stan's departure,

 Oh yeah of course and there seemed like there were other issues that maybe one could call immaturity in a crazy context.

My point was that the live show has a lot of songs from Stan's time with the band; true, a lot of Full Moon Fever and Wildflowers but between the older songs he played on and new songs had he stayed with the band, the bulk of the shows would be ones Stan recorded. 

A largely pointless speculation.

I like Steve's drumming, I enjoy some of the live concerts from that period of time and particularly enjoy the heaviness that carried over from Mojo. 

22 hours ago, Shelter said:

And it's your thread

The thread belongs to everyone!

22 hours ago, Shelter said:

"Thoughts on the thousand TPATHs".

Or maybe just "The One And Only TPATH".

 Nice, I like 'em.

cheers

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On 10/16/2017 at 8:48 AM, MaryJanes2ndLastDance said:

I understand. As an exception to many, and while not a punk I don't think but I saw footage of Iggy Pop recently, nearly 70, running around the stage and singing Lust For Life; which is inspiring.

 

I saw Iggy Pop on April 1, 2016 and no joke! Not just for Lust For Life, which he opened the show with, but for the entire 2 hour show!  He is in better form now than I think he was when he was in his 20's!  It was very inspiring! 

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Another angle on this, there's the Greatest Hits TPATH which doesn't need to be elaborated on and this whole other side to the band.

There's the pop-rock songs that could've been hits but never were: You and I Will Meet Again/Waiting For Tonight/Casa Dega etc. and the more experimental side, the band that recorded Mojo, Moon Pie, included the weird between song noises on LMU, the band that came up with It Ain't Nothin' To Me and DCAHNM (which became a hit, considering how different it is from the rest of their material it could be owed to the video, I don't know) Luna, Shadow People, It's Rainin' Again etc.

They're not Radiohead but they did try to do some different types of songwriting over the years. Whether or not someone who only knows the band by the greatest hits would probably be surprised at the variety within their discography.

cheers

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