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MaryJanes2ndLastDance

Thoughts on Playback

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If you're ever sittin' around wondering who might want to listen to albums & box sets (like Playback) that the band releases, here are two articles.

The short answer is: a LOT of people ever since 1976 including right up to today.

So yeah, if you feel that at times they created albums or box sets with sections you don't want to listen to, that's up to you. As musicians, they were maybe, just maybe, working hard at creating & sharing the best quality music they could over an entire career. And that music connects with a LOT of people. 

https://www.billboard.com/articles/columns/chart-beat/7988674/tom-petty-heartbreakers-40-years-hits-breakdown

  • The debut launched an impressive career spanning four decades, with numerous feats and Billboard chart achievements... Blah blah... Petty notched 22 entries on the Billboard 200 and dozens of hits on Billboard’s rock and pop charts.

https://www.billboard.com/articles/columns/chart-beat/7989072/tom-pettys-music-sales-increase-following-death

  • While we were feeling very very sad indeed, some of their songs & albums surged back onto the charts. 

     

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28 minutes ago, Big Blue Sky said:

If you're ever sittin' around wondering who might want to listen to albums & box sets (like Playback) that the band releases, here are two articles.

 Maybe on a cursory level, if that.

28 minutes ago, Big Blue Sky said:

So yeah, if you feel that at times they created albums or box sets with sections you don't want to listen to, that's up to you. As musicians, they were maybe, just maybe, working hard at creating & sharing the best quality music they could over an entire career.

Isn't this a given? Going back to my original post I was quite happy to open the box set for the first time and see what it contained. Some of my comments after are maybe me garbling what Shelter meant and responding to that or bouncing off what I thought his take was.

Is there anything on the box set that especially stands out for you?

cheers

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3 hours ago, Big Blue Sky said:

You know when tea / coffee shops create sample bags by getting someone on staff to select some goodies from the entire range? Then over the next few weeks you try out the different sample options & find what you love & decide you want to explore further or get more of?

You've tasted something that you like (Greatest Hits* even just one song) & now you can see what else there is from a selected range (Playback). If you want to explore further you sure can (original albums, singles, live concerts). 

Also helpful to remember transition from vinyl to cd was happening late 80s early 90s. New technology: portable Walkman, CD player in car etc... Do you go back & buy all the earlier albums etc... For me, can easily imagine smart move to stash Playback box set safely in car glovebox before I set out for a 6 hour car trip in car with CD player. 

And maybe, you know, people started by mentioning songs unique to Playback when they're talking about Playback. If you want to enthusiastically talk about chord progression in, say, American Girl, you are spoiled for choice as it's on so many albums, not just Playback. 

 

* 12 million copies of Greatest Hits - sensible to consider that after 1993 at least some of these people might want to explore the back catalogue a little further. So, releasing Playback & VHS video collection 2 years later seems a very smart & logical move. To me & many more considering that Playback went platinum too.

Playback would only have to sell a little over 180,000 copies to go platinum. 6 discs in the bundle means 1 copy sold counts as 6.

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On 7 March 2019 at 8:34 AM, MaryJanes2ndLastDance said:

 

Certainly I think, had this come out now I'd be yelling CASHGRAB! But at the time I was perhaps more innocent.

 

Goodness me, I must have been distracted by comments like this one ^^^  

So glad you want to discuss the music. Let's get on with that, then shall we? 

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I particularly appreciate ❤️ the sound of those early songs & think it's remarkable that the band shared them. 

  • the 1st recording played on local Florida radio "Up In Mississippi Tonight",
  • song recorded in Florida "On The Street" by BT & used as demo in LA
  • recorded after they signed with Shelter: "Cry To Me" (cover), "I Can't Fight It", "Don't Do Me Like That", "Louisiana Rain" & also "Depot Street". 

Q: Would you have given them a record deal in 1974? Would you have dropped them in 1975?

Q: What's musically special about them? (Or are we seeing them as special because of who they later became)? 

Q: Could TP have continued on as bass player, or did he have to move to rhythm guitar to be able to sing most if not all of the songs?

PS also from that early phase (this being the song Leon Russell heard TP singing) ❤️

 

 

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And how on earth did they evolve from Mudcrutch sound 1974 & 1975 to iconic sound of "American Girl" (middle of 1976)?

Would you recognise them as the same musicians (with just a few lineup changes) - or has some major change happened? 

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1 hour ago, Big Blue Sky said:

Q: Would you have given them a record deal in 1974? 

No. Especially if Up in Mississippi is the only exposure. Country's not to my taste, I would've passed. Maybe I would've signed them if I heard I Can't Fight It, Don't Do Me & Depot Street or saw them live.

1 hour ago, Big Blue Sky said:

Q: What's musically special about them? (Or are we seeing them as special because of who they later became)? 

I think the latter. It's challenging to picture you wouldn't know what they'd be when we're all sitting here at Mudcrutch Farm.

Then again, if I'd heard a band play Running Down A Dream and Won't Back Down I'd have wanted more, sign them, etc. 

1 hour ago, Big Blue Sky said:

Q: Could TP have continued on as bass player, or did he have to move to rhythm guitar to be able to sing most if not all of the songs?

I think he could've been like a Geddy Lee, bass player, songwriter singer etc. I'm glad he's on guitar though since a lot of the TPATH sound is from his guitar interacting with Mike's playing. So no, I take it back, he'd have to switch to guitar.

1 hour ago, Big Blue Sky said:

(this being the song Leon Russell heard TP singing) ❤️

It's a well performed cover but the material bores me, the music doesn't interest me at all, nothing special to it. I get the musical feeling, passion but I feel I could go to my local blues bar and get the similar. What made the band special wasn't the covers but their own songs. I'll gladly take Luna or It'll All Work Out over this.

44 minutes ago, Big Blue Sky said:

And how on earth did they evolve from Mudcrutch sound 1974 & 1975 to iconic sound of "American Girl" (middle of 1976)?

I don't know. I don't even know if the band could tell you. Perhaps becoming more of a rock-n-roll band instead of country made the difference. American Girl could've been a very good country song with a few tweaks in sound and approach. I get your point though, there's a lot of rapid growth in those first three TPATH records. Then you have Tom pushing for something different with Hard Promises/Southern Accents and then another leap into Full Moon Fever and yet another change into Wildflowers. I think the band kinda stayed like that through to the end, Hypnotic Eye being an exception to their later style.

What do you think of the band's changing style and sound?

 

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What I think made them stand out, well first, Tom's songwriting and Mike's riffs, then the way the band blended together, their jangly sound, pretty much everything to one degree or another through maybe Let Me Up, and possibly ITGWO. That combo made their music sound poppy, catchy yet different, Mike wisely adding in perfectly timed melodic leads, same with Benmont. 

From WF, in my opinion, their sound changed, so while Tom is still writing songs, that combo sound or what Benmont called their "chamber music" approach was gone. Swingin or Won't Last Long just doesn't sound like Don't Do Me Like That or You Tell Me. They also became more of a midtempo groove band, seeming to get more bluesy with each release, till the all around extended songwriting of Mojo. 

How much of an impact the loss/quit/firing of Stan contributed, I don't know. I really like Can't Stop The Sun but it doesn't even sound like the same band musically. I think there are fans who really like the early jangle days and those who like from FMF or WF on and some, most I reckon who post here, who like all the different eras of the band.

cheers

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As for Playback, I think if I knock off a few songs from the last two discs, add one from disc three I think and it's about a 27-28 song double or triple album. I feel there's so much good songwriting for this band, it's like a more energized band, more rocking than ITGWO and less dour than Let Me Up and yet a bit experimental or weird here and there. 

cheers

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22 hours ago, MaryJanes2ndLastDance said:

I don't think anything will; but the latter three discs are quite the bounty.

Exactly; exactly. My point.

22 hours ago, MaryJanes2ndLastDance said:

Besides, who the heck even considers such things other than the members of this place and not even a large chunk o' that.

Exactly. The "why" is not really that interesting. 

21 hours ago, Big Blue Sky said:

If you're ever sittin' around wondering who might want to listen to albums & box sets (like Playback) 

I'm not sure that is ever an issue with music fans like us.. Listening to albums and boxes. Then again, the "how".. How is a boxed aimed, for what listener/customer/market segment? Or like I like to put it, what is the idea? Is it better with a something for everyone kinda approach, or an everything for a few? And whatever you find to be your personal answer, where on the scale did Playback sit. That's my level of operation here.

***

Of further interest, in the fine prints, for the sequencing nerds, is questions like: Would Depot Street, and even Up In Mississippi, have been better off presented among the "released" stuff on the first part of the box (making the line between "things you already have if your into this box" and "things you may not have even if your a core collector" a bit less dividing)? And.. Would Christmas All Over, perhaps even Mary Jane, have been better off on the second part of the box (making the aforementioned line even clearer than it now is, separating 100% rather than 98%)?

Further.. Is five songs per album a winning strategy (six for FMF) or could it have been differentiated some? Given the 50/50 set up, having single B-sides being part of the "interesting" half may be a both good and obvious call (classic compilation record concept!), but why then leave out just the odd single A and B sides?

Stuff like that. In short, what I like to call "Thoughts on Playback" - as a box. The songs are good too, sorry for not pointing that out.

That said, I do regress.. I do start to have second thoughts about pushing the "idea" button on this one. Sorry. I just find it to be one of the weirdest boxes in term of aim, that I have ever come across in my role as pathological music collector. That does not necessarily mean that I don't like it. I do. A lot. Dare I say of course...

 

 

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1 hour ago, Shelter said:

Or like I like to put it, what is the idea? Is it better with a something for everyone kinda approach, or an everything for a few? And whatever you find to be your personal answer, where on the scale did Playback sit. That's my level of operation here.

😀  something for everyone? (to me) 

  • for people who are relatively new listeners (eg coming in via Wilburys or Greatest Hits) Playback = a retrospective overview of 4-6 songs off each album plus B-sides plus bonus of mixed bag of out-takes, demos, unreleased etc. 
  • But equally for people who've followed for a while, Playback's a treasure trove of new material (out-takes, demos, unreleased etc) plus most of available B-sides gathered in one place... and, why not, let's throw in a reminder of some of those best songs across all their albums. 

Seems kinda fair to have songs from all albums, now you mention that, especially in comparison to Greatest Hits. 

 

👀 hah, so we have a 6 hour road trip next week. Opportunity for a solid uninterrupted listen to a box-set. (Ooo how to choose between Playback, American Treasure or All The Best?)However, not sure how thrilled other people in vehicle might be. They might provide interruptions. I guess I can pack ear phones. Oh no: music versus being sociable? 

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On 3/5/2019 at 11:11 AM, martin03345 said:

"Depot Street" shows why Mudcrutch wasn't gonna last as a band. It's a nifty song but hardly worthy of being a single. It's like the record label was trying to kill them.

I've said this before also: How the hell did they pick "Depot Street" as a single?? It's the worst possible choice of anything from that batch. Not representative of the band at all. Not a radio type song. Not an example of Tom's best songwriting. Good album track maybe, but single?? I'll never understand that choice.

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3 minutes ago, High Grass Dog said:

I've said this before also: How the hell did they pick "Depot Street" as a single?? It's the worst possible choice of anything from that batch

Ha ha! I think it's a perfect single, short, catchy, cheerful; it's pop music. I know there's years between, but I think it's a better song than the Foo Fighter's Big Me which was a big hit in the mid '90s though some of that was down to the music video perhaps. Depot Street is a better song than that and not always but often listeners respond to catchy upbeat songs. Maybe that's why they picked it; I don't think it's unusual.

cheers

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16 hours ago, Big Blue Sky said:

 

  • for people who are relatively new listeners (eg coming in via Wilburys or Greatest Hits) Playback = a retrospective overview of 4-6 songs off each album plus B-sides plus bonus of mixed bag of out-takes, demos, unreleased etc. 
  • But equally for people who've followed for a while, Playback's a treasure trove of new material (out-takes, demos, unreleased etc) plus most of available B-sides gathered in one place... and, why not, let's throw in a reminder of some of those best songs across all their albums. 

Alright then. All good. To me it seems waay too much repackaging for the "initiated" buyer, and quite an overload of novel/"obscure" for the newbie.

Of course, the sales department may have figured that the actual fan base would accept A LOT, of almost anything to get to those two or three discs of rare goods.. But if they stacked almost half of the album tracks on there in the end, it's interesting to ponder just what balance would've worked. I'm sure most of us would have gone with 75% of the old stuff being stacked on there, too, But would it be "cool"? Or perhaps a complete catalogue reissue backed with the three discs of "news"? (In some ways the latter would've been the most fair, since it wouldn't "force" anyone to own multiple copies of the same stuff.) Why not a Complete Singles type - 2 discs A sides - 2 discs b-sides - 2 discs bonus rarities? Wow, I thrill myself over the endless possibilities beyond the plain retrospect repetition.

***

As for the ongoing discussion about Depot Street, is it just me, or does that one vaguely channel 70s era Steve Miller Band? It is interesting though, that despite Mudcrutch live being a decidedly rocking outfit (if a bit diverse at that), both singles they cut was obvious pop efforts (one with southern rock/semi-country vibes, the other a bit ""reggae""). Whatever their consulting partners - as in friends- then managers and label, eventually had in mind for them, and how damaging or well meant it all was, how well they knew their job, or not, how much they wanted Tom but not Mudcrutch and other fascinating theories, lets not forget Tom and/or band wasn't totally finished and clear about their goal either. They probably had a general idea of what music they liked, but I would guess that was all slightly..  shall we say eclectic.. Like all young bands they wanted to play, to make it.. And they had some integrity about it, surely.

But as for knowing exactly what to put on a single or how to put it there, I would suggest that they were about as clueless as anybody. If anything, to have a few clunkers - if that's what you wanna call it - in the process if finding your foot hold, getting a grasp, catching some wind.. is a sign of authencity to me. When bands surface already fixed in shape, with their first ever recirding attempt in top ten I always smell product.

Personally I like both their first singles a lot, as songs. Especially Up in Mississppi is a great song, IMO. But they could obviously have cut more "characteristic" songs as singles. Especially by 1975, Depot Street does feel like an odd choice. The leap on to American Girl - as has been noted- does seem.. unnecessarily gigantic.

That said, I think Depot Street as a song is nice enough, if a bit cute. The b-side on the other hand, although suspiciously missing on "The Other Sides" is a real personal favorite. Although, again more in the old semi-typical southern rock mode of Mudcrutch - maybe more fitting as a b-side to Up In Mississippi that way - Wild Eyes is a killer little gem in my book. 

Anyway, I take it all to mean that they were in fact geniuses way before they were geniuses. They just didn't know it yet, hence the "strange behaviour". 

 

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16 hours ago, Shelter said:

may have figured that the actual fan base would accept A LOT, of almost anything to get to those two or three discs of rare goods..

This was also in the early days of the internet so this was pretty much, aside from record conventions the only way to get some of this material.

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2 hours ago, MaryJanes2ndLastDance said:

This was also in the early days of the internet so this was pretty much, aside from record conventions the only way to get some of this material.

Exactly. As far as I recall, at the time most of that stuff wasn't even available at the Grand Bazaar of Istanbul.

So.. having to counterpurchase a few truckloads of frozen kebab was probably an alright deal. This doesn't mean that the balance is less interesting to me...

Needless to say, I love Istanbul.

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On 3/7/2019 at 6:26 PM, MaryJanes2ndLastDance said:

Besides Trailer any other stand out tracks to you? And yes, I don't understand how a southern themed song didn't make the SOUTHERN CONCERT ALBUM!

cheers

Exactly, a very odd call! I love Casa Dega also, and most of everything else that is on the collection - a really cool mix of sounds! Listening to Ways to be Wicked right now and its just great!

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