Revisit some of Rock legend Tom Petty’s most revered work with the digital release of “Finding Wildflowers” (alternate versions).
Available via Warner Records on April 16, this collection of alternative versions from his sophomore album “Wildflowers” (1994), was most recently revamped by in the 2020 collection “Wildflowers & All The Rest,” an expansive retrospective that included demos, rare tracks and live material.
This is more than just a remastering of an album that has gone three times platinum (selling more than three million copies), his estate honored his original idea for “Wildflowers.”
Back in ’94, the guitarist/frontman envisioned a 25-track double album — something the record execs at Warner were not keen to — and so his output was cut.
These tracks, available digitally and on CD and vinyl, differ in order from the original work and features “You Saw Me Comin’” (1992), which had been unreleased until the 2020 collection. They also show some of Petty’s strengths while refreshing the music surrounding him.
“A Higher Place,” (alternate version) introduces this set with a lively tale. Regarding how the power of lovers can be uplifting, his melodic acoustic rhythms weave a warm backdrop of radio-friendly Rock for claustrophobic lyrics like, “We gotta get to a higher place and we gotta leave by night. Before that river takes us down. We gotta find somewhere that’s dry.”
Now featuring a Bluesy updated riff, the slow burner “Hard on Me,” in composition and delivery, is delicate. Light keys and drums from his backing band The Heartbreakers, (though not credited as such for artistic reasons) show that his lyrical longing is infectious, even in ballad mode.
“Cabin Down Below (alternate version) with Southern Rock guitars and a deeper vocal register has him his coaxing, “Come on go with me, babe, come on go with me, girl, baby, let’s go to the cabin down below” with an edgier, no non-sense flair. This pace continues later on with the mostly instrumental and time-changing “Drivin’ Down to Georgia.”
Now considered classics among his later material, “You Wreck Me,” “It’s Good to be King” and “Wildflowers,” reflects some of the best aspects of his work: Relatability, (he often drew inspiration from autobiographical sources) and catchiness.
Take the latter song for instance. Upon listening to it, the general consensus is, it’s a Folky, soft and beautiful variety with its references to flowers and love, mirroring his emotional troubles at the time. The kicker is how he prepared the song — it’s talent that can’t be faked.
In an interview with media outlets years later, in retrospect of the album, Petty offered, “I just took a deep breath and it came out. The whole song. Stream of consciousness: Words, music, chords. Finished it. I mean, I just played it into a tape recorder and I played the whole song and I never played it again.”