The Roaring 90s, Part I: Just About The Wallflowers

Folks my age oft criticize me for my musical tastes, persistently asking me, "Don’t you like any new music?" It’s true; I do gravitate toward older music mostly released before I was even born (and, according to my questioners, the Rolling Stones' newest record doesn’t count as "new.") But I love music from my lifetime, and I find myself very lucky to be born in 1984, because by the time I grew old enough to enjoy popular music, a revolution had taken place and a stream of great, roots rock, "alternative" bands starting popping up everywhere. A deluge of bands came on playing their instruments well in tight ensembles, reviving an earlier mentality of how a band should sound, eschewing synthesizers, excessive reverb, and the hair. Of these new groups, my favourite is The Wallflowers.

We all know their big success, Bringing Down The Horse, which featured "One Headlight" and "6th Avenue Heartache," and a few less people, but still a good number, know at least the single "Sleepwalker" off of their follow-up album, (Breach), but The Wallflowers have released two additional high quality records since then, 2002’s Red Letter Days and Rebel, Sweetheart in 2005.

The Wallflowers feature a Tom Pettyesque sound with Dylanesque lyrics (courtesy of Bob Dylan’s son, Jakob as the band’s frontman.) Their first album, produced by T-Bone Burnett features soulful Hammond organs, slide guitars, piano solos, and all sorts of wonderful things that were in absentia in the 80s but came back with a vengeance in the 90s.

Unfortunately, as quickly as the tide shifted from the super-slick, synth-driven productions of the 80s to 70s-style rock bands in the early 90s, the music scene changed again into Backstreet Boys, Britney Spearses, and genies in bottles, and The Wallflowers went the way of so many of their contemporaries, disappearing from the charts completely after "Sleepwalker." But no one can say I don’t like new music (of course, Bringing Down The Horse turned eleven this year, so I guess it’s not that new.)

To be continued...