It has to be said – A Wallflowers reunion has been a very long time overdue. Having hit the jackpot back in 1996 with the L.A quintet’s high-selling, international breakthrough record, Bringing Down The Horse the band found themselves quickly become one of the biggest bands in the US. Bringing Down The Horse spawned a number of globally recognized singles including ‘Three Marlena’s’, ‘6th Avenue Heartache’ and of course, ‘One Headlight’. The latter track even garnished the band with two Grammy Awards for Best Rock Performance By A Duo Or Group With Vocal and Best Rock Song.
Since that release The Wallflowers seem to have fallen into obscurity, only revisiting their top-selling status once since then and now with the bands cover of the famous David Bowie single ‘Heroes’, a contribution to the film, Godzilla. Following that the band seemed to fall off the radar completely as their follow-up records failed to chart.
The Wallflowers have released three albums since their sophomore juggernaut but none of them have managed to replicate the same success that saw the band take on the world back in 1996. Deciding to take a hiatus in 2005 that has dragged on for the best part of the last seven years following the release of the bands last studio album, Rebel, Sweetheart, the band return this week with the release of Glad All Over, their sixth studio record and one that reunites three of its original members – Jakob Dylan, Rami Jaffee and Greg Richling with fellow Wallflowers, Stuart Mathis and Jack Irons.
I have to say I was very excited to hear The Wallflowers were in the process of recording the record when news broke of the bands plans some time back. They always seemed one of the more credible US acts in the ’90s with huge potential and I was disappointed when their follow-up to Bringing Down The Horse didn’t meet critic or fan expectations. To finally have something fresh from the band was music to my ears (no pun intended).
Thankfully that pleasure carried right through my first listen to Glad All Over. The one thing to point out here is that a long time has passed since this band were at their finest and time will tell if their fans have remained by their side after such a long departure as a musical unit. While each of the band have been busy with side projects, taking time out or doing regular session work during their break, Jakob Dylan was always the focal point of The Wallflowers. Perhaps this is because he’s the son of none other than the iconic Bob Dylan, but I like to think it is because of his distinctive tones and phenomenal songwriting talents. Over the years he has turned out a very successful solo career for himself, releasing a couple of records to pass the time and touring quite extensively.
Glad All Over sounds like a merging of the classic Wallflowers sound and Dylan’s solo material which allows the record to be brought swiftly up to date leaving no room for cynicism over whether the band has lost its touch from years apart.
Welcoming in the new record we are offered an adrenaline junkies dream in the bass heavy and bluesy guitar licked form of ‘Hospital For Sinners’. Raw and poetic the track sets the mood for Glad All Over and welcomes back The Wallflowers to the international stage with some charged guitar riffs making the track a memorable album opener.
Mick Jones of The Clash fame was invited by the band to collaborate on not one, but two, of the recordings on the new album. The first presents itself early on in the record with ‘Misfits and Lovers’, a catchy, indie-pop lashing that showcases the brilliant musicianship of the pair while the second collaborative venture plays out on the albums lead single, ‘Reboot the Mission’. Here Jones offers a dash of reggae influence to the recording making for an eclectic listen and one that seems to be doing quite well in the charts in the bands US homeland. Merging sounds of both The Wallflowers with Jones’ signature reggae passion the track is one of the more diverse and up-tempo inclusions on Glad All Over and certainly one of the standout tracks on the record. This one certainly has the groove needed for a catchy comeback track.
While the band unleash some pretty powerful and rock-tinged tracks on Glad All Over they also offer one of their balladic gems early in the record in the form of ‘First One in The Car’, a beautifully structured piece of mid-tempo balladry sung by Dylan with nothing short of conviction. The track is the closest thing to a ballad on the whole album, which is a shame as The Wallflowers did so well back in the ’90s and as a fan of the bands more melancholic tracks it was a bit of a disappointment to find this being the token slow jam on the new record. It is however a highlight and one of the most engaging inclusions.
Another strong feature on the comeback record falls into the latter half with the bouncy, anthemic ‘It Won’t Be Long (Till We’re Not Wrong Anymore). Infectiously energetic the track stands out as the key song on Glad All Over with its semi-Bruce Springsteen style rhythm and musical charisma and has ‘single release’ written all over it.
It may have been a long wait for the band to unleash a follow-up to their last record but good things certainly come to those who wait and that has been proven with Glad All Over.
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Written by ::: Brendon Veevers
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