Anyone who saw the Wallflowers perform live in the early '90s surely could tell the band had a good shot at making it big. With their folk-rock tunes led by the vocals of Jakob Dylan and Rami Jaffee's swelling Hammond orga... more »n, they sounded like nothing so much as the Band playing with Jakob's dad, Bob. The songs on their self-titled debut weren't quite there, however, so the Wallflowers breakout was deferred until 1996, when they released Bringing Down the Horse. Still, there are some fine moments on The Wallflowers, including "Shy of the Moon," the rocking "Ashes to Ashes," and the rambling "Sidewalk Annie." --Daniel Durchholz« less
Anyone who saw the Wallflowers perform live in the early '90s surely could tell the band had a good shot at making it big. With their folk-rock tunes led by the vocals of Jakob Dylan and Rami Jaffee's swelling Hammond organ, they sounded like nothing so much as the Band playing with Jakob's dad, Bob. The songs on their self-titled debut weren't quite there, however, so the Wallflowers breakout was deferred until 1996, when they released Bringing Down the Horse. Still, there are some fine moments on The Wallflowers, including "Shy of the Moon," the rocking "Ashes to Ashes," and the rambling "Sidewalk Annie." --Daniel Durchholz
Debut Is Quite Different From The Albums That Followed
Eric R. Last | San Bruno, CA United States | 01/29/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This debut album by The Wallflowers may confound some fans of their subsequent albums. Originally released in 1992, it did not sell well, and it was several years before Jakob Dylan returned with a revamped line-up of musicians to hit the big time with the breakthrough 2nd album, "Bringing Down The Horse". By that time he had tightened up the formula, updating the sound and reining in some of the excesses of the debut. The Wallflowers known to most of their fans make crisp, consise pop-rock songs, but this early incarnation of the band had a much more freewheeling, loose approach, with little apparent regard for radio-play or the trends of the day. The Wallflowers have always had a retro/classic rock sound, but on the later albums this is filtered through a modern-rock sensibility. Not so on the debut, which sounds like it could have come out in 1970. The songs are often quite long here - 3 of the 12 cuts clock in at 7 minutes or longer, and the average song length is almost 6 minutes. The shortest, "Shy Of The Moon", is the only one on the album that's less than 4 minutes, and not coincidentally, it's probably the only song that could have had any chance as a single. But unlike many long rock songs, they do not feel bloated, padded or stretched out needlessly. In fact, the 3 longest songs are arguably the best, all 3 of them managing to achieve a hypnotic groove that justifies the length. One reviewer said the album sounds like it was recorded in a garage, and I'd agree, as long as you can accept that sometimes that's a good thing. The band is loose without being sloppy, and the sound is direct, rootsy and organic, yet still very well recorded. In a lot of ways this album reminds me of Bruce Springsteen's debut, "Greetings From Asbury Park, New Jersey". Springsteen started out making a wild, sprawling, uncommercial record before learning to shorten the songs, rein in the manic lyrics and give his music a chance to be heard by a wide audience. The Wallflowers have had a similar evolution, and as much as I love their more popular later albums, I love their debut, too. Maybe more, in fact."
A hidden gem from the early 1990s
Sal Nudo | Champaign, Illinois | 09/06/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Radio and most music journalists seemed to turn collectively deaf ears to this great debut CD by The Wallflowers, led by Jakob Dylan. It's an earthy and heartfelt album that must have gotten lost in the thick, heavy haze of early 1990s guitar-rock grunge that dominated the scene at the time. Admittedly, this Wallflowers album couldn't be more different from Alice in Chains than Bob Dylan is from Iron Butterfly, but if you like your music with a laid-back feel, this one fits the bill.
There's an innocent charm to this down-to-earth album that will leave you scratching your head as to why Dylan went undiscovered until 1996 with Bringing Down the Horse. Surprisingly, the musicians who helped Dylan on this album are no longer part of the Wallflower camp, though their formidable skills are evident and appreciated throughout the CD, especially the organ and piano portions. Dylan chose a plethora of skilled musicians to further enhance his great songs. Like Tom Petty, Dylan knows his bread and butter lies in songs that convey a down-home folksy sound and sense that middle America can appreciate. Dylan is adept at capturing simple moods and personalities within his songs, usually at the expense of a girl he knew well. Other songs aren't so movingly personal. "Oh my God, they sold Hollywood," he deadpans on the quiet seven-minute gem "Hollywood," a song that would sound right at home in some big-city bar.
Half of these tunes hover or significantly surpass the five-minute mark, perhaps indicating these guys simply hit the record button and let things flow. If a hit lies anywhere here, it would be the more electric-sounding "Ashes to Ashes," a no-nonsense rocker reminiscent of John Cougar in his prime. "Asleep at the Wheel" is strong as well, a genuinely tender piece with a beautifully played acoustic guitar and Dylan's gruff vocals. It's the epitome of this album: heartfelt and purposely non-obtrusive. At nine minutes long, the relaxed "Honeybee" is one of those songs where you simply sit back and let the music engulf you. It contains fine lyrics sung softly, shimmering organ work, pretty piano and a rising crescendo that helps end the album on a dramatic note. The final song, "For the Life of Me," questions the validity of suicide as a means of escaping, an attitude that many "hip" artists at the time communicated, perpetuated and perhaps unknowingly embraced back in 1992, when this album was made.
The Wallflowers' debut successfully melded rock and country. Through his stories within songs, Dylan is similar to his father; his surrounding instruments and tunefulness suggest images of a newer Tom Petty; his serious demeanor and musical integrity recall John Mellencamp and even Eddie Vedder. Honestly, this album might even best its hugely successful follow-up. Though it lacks the million-dollar hit, it has a flow and connecting oneness that is hard to brush off. There's a looseness and organic feel to these songs, a sense of not trying to please anybody or sell six million albums. Nothing sounds too planned or overly rehearsed, which is the way an outstanding debut record should sound."
A hidden gem
Eric R. Last | 05/14/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"The debut of the legendaryworthy 'Flowers, is WELL worth getting. This album has it all, and it showcases beautifully the raw unbridled talent of the band at it's beginning. The songs on here are still begged for by fans at current concerts, they have and will stand the test of time.
You will NOT be dissapointed, at this beautifully crafted gem. Get it!! and tell everyone you know! :)"
Why didn't this CD sell well? Buy it now!
Eric R. Last | 02/21/1999
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I've had this Cd for a while, and somehow I still manage to listen to the whole thing every day. To put it another way--I'm in love with it! The Wallflowers are my favorite band, and if you don't have this cd I seriously suggest you get it. Also, try their latest Cd, Bringing Down the Horse, which is also one of my favorite cds. Well actually, those two are my favorite cds!! Jakob Dylan has so much talent, and has managed to make quite a name for himself even after having to live under the shadow and expectancies of his father. With everything from the song "Ashes to Ashes" that makes you want to grab your air guitar, to Asleep At the Wheel (which also happens to be my favorite song on the album) I assure you you won't be disappointed. Here's proof of how much I listen to this Cd...if you turn the radio up all the way right after Shy of the Moon, you can hear the band talking! But beyond that, I think that this cd is an unbelieveable debut album, and I have no idea why it didn't do well. If you're into original roots rock without all the fluff and frills, this CD is definitely for you. If I could give it more than five stars, I would. Go out and get it NOW! You'll love it, I promise."
DragonHunter200 | Detroit | 07/22/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"After a debut like this, I'm surprised The Wallflowers really aren't more popular. These days, you just don't hear a lot of bands with an original, unique sound, so this was a very refreshing cd. Every element of the music seems perfected, which is somewhat rare for a debut. I highly recommend this and all Wallflowers cds!"