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Albums Of The Week: Tom Petty | Wildflowers & All The Rest

The late singer-songwriter's 1994 album finally gets released the way he intended.

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THE EDITED PRESS RELEASE: “During Tom Petty’s final interview with the Los Angeles Times, as the triumphant 40th anniversary tour with The Heartbreakers was coming to an end, he announced that his next big focus would be to finally revisit his 1994 masterpiece Wildflowers, co-produced with Rick Rubin and Mike Campbell.

Wildflowers in many ways changed Tom’s creative life — as a recording artist, collaborator and band leader — while a profound, personal crisis transformed the stories and emotional thrust in his songs. Tom ultimately wrote more songs than he could release at the time. In fact, Tom, Rubin and Campbell completed the album as a double CD with 25 songs, nearly two hours of music, but his label advised restraint. Released on November 1, 1994, Wildflowers — a single CD with 15 songs, still more than an hour in length — was Tom’s most acutely confessional album to date.

The resurrection of Wildflowers has been a long time coming. In a 2014 interview with Rolling Stone, Tom detailed his plans for the reissue, telling the magazine, “I broke through to something else. My personal life came crashing down, and it derailed me for a while. But I was at the top of my game during that record.” Then again in 2016 on SiriusXM’s Tom Petty Radio, he discussed his desire for a Wildflowers tour to coincide with a reissue. Tom had always intended to release the second half of the album — a collection he named All The Rest, featuring 10 songs from the Wildflowers recording sessions that were left off the original version and five unreleased tracks (different versions of four other songs would appear on the soundtrack to the 1996 film, She’s The One).

Wildflowers & All The Rest, the long-awaited Wildflowers reissue and comprehensive collection, has finally be released. Tom’s vision of the project is becoming a reality due to the commitment of his loving family, bandmates and collaborators who helped unearth many previously unheard gems. The compilation was curated by Tom’s daughters Adria and Annakim Petty and his wife Dana Petty — who call it, “many, many hours of pure sonic joy” — as well as Heartbreakers Mike Campbell and Benmont Tench, and was produced by Tom’s longtime engineer and co-producer Ryan Ulyate. Together they stewarded the warmth Tom created through his music and relationship to his fans.

Wildflowers & All The Rest will be released in multiple formats. The Deluxe Edition features 15 recordings made by Tom in his home studio as he was writing the album. These solo demos provide an intimate look at Tom’s songwriting process, where he plays all the instruments and revises lyrics as he works. The Deluxe Edition is rounded-off with 14 live performances of songs from Wildflowers, recorded on various tours from 1995 to 2017. The Super Deluxe Edition features Finding Wildflowers — 16 studio recordings of alternate takes of Wildflowers songs as Tom, band members and Rubin honed in on the final album.

Tom Petty released 16 studio albums and over 180 songs over the course of his 40-year career. Wildflowers was the first album of a long-term renaissance. It was Petty’s fastest selling album and was certified triple platinum only nine months after its release. The album was always deeply significant to him. As proof, five of the 18 songs performed at his final live concert at the Hollywood Bowl in Los Angeles came from the album. Wildflowers — his solo masterpiece, a personal triumph and the album Petty needed to make at that moment, at any cost — is finally here as he intended it and beyond.”