28 of 28 people found the following review helpful
Wildflowers finds Tom Petty at the top of his game. Having finally achieved the mega-success he always deserved with Full Moon Fever, Petty no longer had anything to prove. I can't help but identify these songs with a mellow Tom Petty, although mellow probably isn't the best word for a musician who can still rock like few others. There's definitely a softer quality to this music, however; the frenetic energy of earlier classics such as American Girl and Refugee are great, but Petty's music has matured over the years into something that transcends what has come before. One cannot help but notice the obvious influence of Petty's Traveling Wilburys band mates in these songs. Dylan's influence has been there for many years, but the grace and soul of George Harrison's music wends its way through several of these tracks in a most telling way. Once again, Petty is stepping out without the formal participation of the Heartbreakers, but there's no absence of Mike Campbell to be found in these songs.
This 1994 album is packed with 15 quality tracks, totaling almost 63 minutes, showering Petty fans with an abundance of blessings. I believe You Don't Know How It Feels was the first single, but in my opinion this song pales in comparison to most of the other tracks collected here. Rocking tracks include You Wreck Me, the almost whimsical but undeniably fun Honey Bee, Cabin Down Below (espousing a driving beat with a slight country feel to it), and House in the Woods (get your Petty twang right here).
Time to Move On is, by lyrics and rhythm, a traveling song that hearkens to the ever-present open road to new experiences. To Find a Friend reminds me of Into the Great Wide Open from the album of the same name, but this song has a softer beat and a more emotional focus on the life-change being described; the chorus is as catchy as it is meaningful. Don't Fade On Me relies on minimalist guitar accompaniment to produce a song with many of the hallmarks of folk music, one with periodic touches of bluegrass-tinged twang. A Higher Place has the most foot-stomping energy of any song on the album, making it a song you will want to listen to over and over.
Some quite impressive tracks, such as the title track, feature a laid-back, soft style that contrasts significantly with earlier incarnations of Petty. It's Only a Broken Heart is a beautiful slow song that has Petty singing in a noticeably high register, one that does not allow for any of the nasal sounds Petty is known for. I've never heard another Petty song which compares to this one. Hard On Me is another slow, moving song with great lyrics and a wonderful sense of freely open vulnerability on Petty's part. Wake Up Time closes the album out in fine fashion. The piano plays a large part in this meaningful song about getting on with life after you realize your dreams are not going to come true. This song serves, to my mind, as a musical counterpoint to the maturity with which Petty has embraced his music and career at this point in his life.
I've saved the best for last, as two tracks on this album stand among the best of Petty's career. It's Good to be King is just a stellar track that describes life as it would be in a perfect world. Crawling Back to You is a song I love more each time I hear it; I think the lyrics to this song could have been better, yet it's one of those songs that have found a permanent slot in the CD player of my mind. Overall, despite a few weak lines scattered here and there, I can't help but believe that Wildflowers is Tom Petty's most impressive album by far.
16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
on 2 November 2002
You really can't go wrong with Wildflowers. The songs are all immensely strong, the playing is beautiful, and it has perhaps the most sparkling production of any record I know. I was surprised to see that Rick Rubin (he of LL Cool J, the Beastie Boys and Public Enemy!) is credited as producer. More credit to him.
What totally gobsmacked me was that it was released in 1994. It just doesn't feel eight years old.
Tom Petty has been around for a long time, and has come a long way from his origins as some sort of Floridan Suzi Quattro. This record came maybe five years after he hit the commercial stratosphere with Learning To Fly and Into The Great Wide Open, and clearly the Petty no longer feels the need to prove anything to anyone. This is a record for Tom Petty.
And it's a cracker: it's by turns gentle and pretty (Wildflowers), melodious (It's Good To Be King), an all-out rocker (Honey-bee), and a fine impression of Dylan (Don't Fade On Me). And these are just random highlights. The whole disc is strong, and its execution is flawless. Production is very natural indeed: hi-fi buffs will auto-excite at the tinkling acoustic guitars and warm snares - no hint of digital manipulation (which probably means its drenched in the stuff!); musos will delight in the subtle, simple clean lines of Mike Campbell, surely one of the most underrated guitar players around.
Nowadays Petty is an elder statesman of country rock, providing backing for Johnny Cash, and on the strength of this recording, it isn't hard to see why.
15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
on 11 March 2000
This is it. Tom Petty at his finest. I bet you thought that he could never do better than Full Moon Fever or Into The Great Wide Open. Wrong. Wildflowers has moved on in a different direction to what Tom is used to. The big rock sing-a-long numbers are still there - You Wreck Me, Honey Bee, The Cabin Down Below, A Higher Place, but it is the ballads on the album which are the stand-outs. Just listen to Time to Move On, Only a Broken Heart and Wake up Time (none of which were released) to see how Tom has moved on since the 70's and 80's both musically and lyrically. In my opinion however, the best number on the album is the brilliant Crawling Back to You. This is just one of the supurb tracks though on one of the best albums ever recorded.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on 11 October 2011
On rare occasions a CD comes along where every track is good. This is one such CD. An excellent mix of everything you ever wanted to hear from Tom Petty. From the pensiveness of Wildflowers, You Don't Know how it Feels, Only a Broken Heart and To Find a Friend, to the rock beat of You Wreck Me and Honey Bee, with a touch of country thrown in for good measure, this is must have CD. After one play-through the songs were all going round in my head, and they are still there. For anyone who wants a change from Refugee and American Girl (good though they are) this is the CD for you. Highly recommended.
9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on 29 April 2000
The most beautiful and inspiring juxtaposition of ballads and all out rock tunes Tom Petty has ever come up with. From the relaxing malevolence of Wildflowers through the `any more laid back and he`d be upside down` strut rock of You Don`t Know How It Feels, you know right from the start that this is the last album you`ll ever need to buy. With a song for every moment from `Crawling Back To You` playing quietly when the lights go out to `You Wreck Me` giving you that morning boost of the spirit that all the full strength coffee in the world would struggle to deliver. The effortless majesty of `It`s good to be king` plays out with the kind of instrumental worthy of a place as the musac of the heavens. `Can I help it if I have some place in my mind where I go time to time?` from the first time you hear those words you`d be forgiven for never returning from that place. Just Wonderful.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 5 December 2007
It was the best of times,it was the worst of times - for CDs that is. I remember lots of people putting out longer albums in the mid-90s and sometimes quailty control got lost. Not so here - this is all killer and no filler. Not a duff track here - 15 winners. Even by TP standards, this is brilliant. A personal favourite. Excellent mix of rockers like 'You Wreck Me' & 'Honey Bee' and more ballady stuff like 'Wake Up Time'. 60 + minute masterclass in classic timeless American rock & roll.
Buy - you can't go wrong.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 15 July 2010
Always find it very difficult to pick out my best TP album but for sheer melodies I think this takes some beating. One of my favourite albums of all time. It has it all slow beautiful ballads to great rock tracks. At this price anyone who likes guitar music needs this in their collection.