Tom Petty Wildflowers & All The Rest Album Review

“Wildflowers” the album released back in 1994, for many, was one of the defining moments of Tom Petty’s career. It’s seen as one of the legendary songwriters finest moments and, following his sad death in 2017, has been brushed up and repackaged into this mammoth deluxe set which, along with a remastered version of the album, weighs in with a whopping thirty-nine extra tracks to make this reworking that extra special for fans.

Originally planned as a double-album, “Wildflowers”, Petty’s second solo album, saw the singer bring in producer Rick Rubin. The resulting partnership saw the album end up a fifteen song affair recorded during a time when Petty’s personal life was traversing some pretty rocky waters. Stripping his sound back to simpler tunes, the fifteen songs included on the album included a number of hits including “It’s Good To Be King” and “You Don’t Know How It Feels”. Simple, catchy, and sounding just as honest and fresh even given the remix treatment, listening to Petty, it’s easy to see why this became one of his best-loved works and why many of the songs remained staples of his live set for many years to come.

Elsewhere in this deluxe box set, there is plenty to keep Petty fans happy regardless of which version is picked up. If you go for the full monty you get a second disc that features the “extra” tracks which failed to make the originally planned cut of twenty-five. Listening to the second disc, you get the feeling that, while Petty and Rubin made a fine job of whittling the twenty-five down to fifteen, they left out some pearlers. Tracks like “Leave Virginia Alone”, “California” and “Somewhere Under Heaven” had as much right sit alongside the likes of “You Don’t Know How It Feels” and you certainly don’t envy Petty and Rubin after they were told to cut it down to one album.

The “Home Recordings” disc sees Petty releasing intimate demo versions of the album tracks. Again an absolute treat for fans of the songwriter. There is a wonderful intimacy felt when hearing these songs know that this is, essentially, Petty in his own home, on his own, ironing out all the creases of what song that would eventually make up the end result.

As if it couldn’t get any better, the set wraps up with a whole stack of live tracks featuring many hits from the album including “You Don’t Know How It Feels”, “Crawling Back To You” and “wildflowers” along with a slew of other tracks showing that, not only did these songs show an intimate, honest side to Petty but, live, they absolutely rocked.

In the past few months, fans of the legends have been in for some wallet-damaging releases what with the recent Prince boxset hitting shelves and probably plenty more to follow. As far as whether or not you should shell out your hard-earned cash on this is essentially down to you. Of course, there is always the option just to pick up the single/double version of the album or some of the less bank-balance wrecking versions. Regardless of what you choose, you’ll soon be lost in the work of one of the world’s finest songwriters performing some of his finest tunes.

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