Thursday, May 23, 2019

100 Albums: "Bringing Down The Horse" by The Wallflowers

Kurt is going through his favorite records. Read the explainer or view the master list.

Artist: The Wallflowers
Title: Bringing Down The Horse
Released: 1996
Genre: adult contemporary roots-rock


Bob Dylan was a funny looking man with an odd but unique voice who couldn't sing particularly well but managed to completely upend the 60's folk scene and become one of the most influential musicians of all time. His son Jakob is an extremely handsome fellow with a beautiful singing voice and hoo-boy his music has been hit-or-miss. Conveniently for us, The Wallflowers--technically a band, although Dylan is the only permanent member--were kind enough to put almost all of their hits on a single disc, their sophomore album Bringing Down The Horse.

Leaning hard on their roots-rock sound, the slide guitars and organs are front-and-center in the mix, just behind the vocals. They marketed this album directly to Counting Crows fans by putting no less than Adam Duritz himself on the first single, 6th Avenue Heartache. The songs aren't really about anything, but the album is hook-heavy, passionate, and compulsively singable. And it sounds terrific. Every note is crisp, clear, and perfect. Just listen to the slow build-up at the front of the opening track One Headlight, with that flanged guitar giving way to the drum and then letting the other instruments creep in. Listen to the warm atmosphere of Invisible City or the driving drums under The Difference or the chirping keyboards on Three Marlenas or the smooth ascension of the verses in Angel On My Bike. It's a pristine sound underscoring some first-rate songwriting.

It's honestly kind of hard to understand why their other albums aren't better. You have to think it was the producer, or something, right, who was able to bring out the brilliance from an otherwise lackluster band. Or maybe it was the 4 year gap after their previous record, which gave them time to write and cull new material. Who can say?

Further Listening: They had a cover of Heroes on the soundtrack to the 1998 movie Godzilla that's pretty decent, although it prompted my wife to quip: "Bob Dylan's son covered David Bowie on the soundtrack to a remake. How many coattails can one man ride?"

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