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Rock - Released October 16, 2020 | Warner Records

Hi-Res Distinctions Best New Reissue
More than a quarter-century after Tom Petty's Wildflowers was first released, it can finally be heard the way the singer-songwriter intended. When he turned in 25 songs, hoping for a double album, Warner Bros. asked him to pare it down to one. But just three years past his death, his family and Heartbreakers bandmates Benmont Tench and Mike Campbell (technically a solo release, Wildflowers features most of the band) have restored the record to its original glory and added in a trove of home demos, alternate takes and live tracks—some 70 songs in all. Produced by Rick Rubin while Petty's decades-old marriage was crumbling and he was reportedly battling heroin addiction, the 1994 release remains one of the all-time great break-up records; heard all together, the extended LP (the All The Rest part is produced Petty's longtime engineer Ryan Ulyate) Petty is a deeper devastating beauty. "New" tracks like the Byrds-y "Leave Virginia Alone," tender "Something Could Happen" and psychedelic Beatles-meets-Wall of Sound "Somewhere Under Heaven" are a comfortable coda to classics such as "You Don't Know How It Feels" and "It's Good to Be King." Extra track "Hope You Never" is a gorgeous, direct complement to old favorite "Only a Broken Heart." As perfect as the original album has always played, it's hard to imagine not including the swaying After the Gold Rush-esque "Hung Up & Overdue" (with backing vocals by Beach Boy Carl Wilson) or sunny, jangling "California" (which also shows up in a demo version, with a telling extra verse: "Don’t forgive my past/ I forgive my enemy/ Don’t know if it lasts/ Gotta just wait and see"). Dig into the home recordings, and it's an even bigger mystery why the harmonica-inflected "There Goes Angela" and plaintive "There's a Break in the Rain (Have Love Will Travel)" weren't contenders over, say, the Celtic-flavored "Don't Fade on Me." Chalk part of that first-listen awe up to the intimacy of these solo demos, which also cast a new, revelatory light on the gently folksy title track and "You Don't Know How It Feels." Live non-album favorites "Girl on LSD" and "Drivin' Down to Georgia" are captured here, along with a blistering "Honey Bee" and lovely takes on "You Wreck Me" and "Crawling Back to You." Tench has recalled Petty calling Wildflowers "the best record we ever made." Now it's even better. © Shelly Ridenour/Qobuz
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Alternative & Indie - Released November 27, 2015 | Warner Records

Distinctions Pitchfork: Best New Reissue
Even though Clouds Taste Metallic is generally regarded as a great album, it's always been somewhat dwarfed by the more aspiring outings in the Flaming Lips' vast, confounding catalog. The album never had an iconic, instantly recognizable hit single on the level of "She Don't Use Jelly" or "Do You Realize??," nor was it as preposterously ambitious as Zaireeka (not to mention the group's later releases that experimented with the very idea of physical media formats), and it certainly didn't receive the overwhelming critical praise that the Lips' 1999 masterpiece The Soft Bulletin did. Clouds was the final Lips album to feature guitarist Ronald Jones, who had joined the band prior to their excellent major-label debut Hit to Death in the Future Head (1992), and it was the final recording to present the Flaming Lips as a guitar-driven band, before they began exploring more orchestral and experimental arrangements and incorporating electronic instruments. Of course, by no means was Clouds a standard rock album; as with any of their albums, they played around with conventional song structure and form. All of the songs on Clouds were three or four minutes long, but they didn't always have obvious hooks. Despite a few catchy numbers such as "This Here Giraffe" and "Christmas at the Zoo," it was hard to imagine any of the album's songs becoming radio staples. Nevertheless, the album was significant for heading toward the Brian Wilson-inspired melodies and arrangements that would be fully explored with their later albums, as well as lyrical themes commonly found in the group's later songs such as prevailing through hopelessness and facing the pressure of having to save the world. Clouds still holds up as an incredible batch of songs, adding up to far more than just a mere transitional album. Two decades after the album's release, the Lips revisited it with a deluxe three-CD (or five-LP) edition titled Heady Nuggs 20 Years After Clouds Taste Metallic: 1994-1997 (not to be confused with a 2011 vinyl box set called Heady Nuggs: The First 5 Warner Bros. Records 1992-2002). Much like the group's pair of 2002 releases on Restless Records that chronicled their early output, Heady Nuggs is loaded with material from other releases from the same time period, in addition to unreleased recordings. The most exciting inclusion is Providing Needles for Your Balloons, a fantastic 1994 EP intended as a stopgap release between Transmissions from the Satellite Heart and Clouds. The EP featured loose, casual recordings of Transmissions album cuts (including a gloriously blown-out version of "Slow Nerve Action," inexplicably recorded live on a Top 40 radio station), a nifty B-side called "Jets, Pt. 2 (My Two Days as an Ambulance Driver)," covers of Suicide's Alan Vega and a then barely known Bill Callahan, as well as a boombox-recorded grandiose piano ballad called "Put the Waterbug in the Policeman's Ear," which foreshadowed the group's later sound. Augmenting Providing Needles on this collection is The King Bug Laughs, a further collection of rarities focusing primarily on covers, which range in origin from Bowie, Bolan, and Lennon to less obvious influences such as Rolf Harris. Rounding out Heady Nuggs is Psychiatric Explorations of the Fetus with Needles, a previously unreleased live album recorded in Seattle in 1996. Typical of a Lips concert of any era, it's unhinged, messy, and noisy, with the group's mega-trippy songs drowning in explosive guitar effects. The set's title track (a cut from Clouds) is stretched out from its original three-minute length to seven, followed by a few minutes of fanatical applause while the audience anticipated an encore. © Paul Simpson /TiVo
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Rock - Released October 16, 2020 | Warner Records

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More than a quarter-century after Tom Petty's Wildflowers was first released, it can finally be heard the way the singer-songwriter intended. When he turned in 25 songs, hoping for a double album, Warner Bros. asked him to pare it down to one. But just three years past his death, his family and Heartbreakers bandmates Benmont Tench and Mike Campbell (technically a solo release, Wildflowers features most of the band) have restored the record to its original glory and added in a trove of home demos, alternate takes and live tracks—some 70 songs in all. Produced by Rick Rubin while Petty's decades-old marriage was crumbling and he was reportedly battling heroin addiction, the 1994 release remains one of the all-time great break-up records; heard all together, the extended LP (the All The Rest part is produced Petty's longtime engineer Ryan Ulyate) Petty is a deeper devastating beauty. "New" tracks like the Byrds-y "Leave Virginia Alone," tender "Something Could Happen" and psychedelic Beatles-meets-Wall of Sound "Somewhere Under Heaven" are a comfortable coda to classics such as "You Don't Know How It Feels" and "It's Good to Be King." Extra track "Hope You Never" is a gorgeous, direct complement to old favorite "Only a Broken Heart." As perfect as the original album has always played, it's hard to imagine not including the swaying After the Gold Rush-esque "Hung Up & Overdue" (with backing vocals by Beach Boy Carl Wilson) or sunny, jangling "California" (which also shows up in a demo version, with a telling extra verse: "Don’t forgive my past/ I forgive my enemy/ Don’t know if it lasts/ Gotta just wait and see"). Dig into the home recordings, and it's an even bigger mystery why the harmonica-inflected "There Goes Angela" and plaintive "There's a Break in the Rain (Have Love Will Travel)" weren't contenders over, say, the Celtic-flavored "Don't Fade on Me." Chalk part of that first-listen awe up to the intimacy of these solo demos, which also cast a new, revelatory light on the gently folksy title track and "You Don't Know How It Feels." Live non-album favorites "Girl on LSD" and "Drivin' Down to Georgia" are captured here, along with a blistering "Honey Bee" and lovely takes on "You Wreck Me" and "Crawling Back to You." Tench has recalled Petty calling Wildflowers "the best record we ever made." Now it's even better. © Shelly Ridenour/Qobuz
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Pop - Released September 18, 2009 | Warner Records

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Pop - Released October 25, 2018 | Warner Records

With the confidence and determination of a seasoned vet, English-Albanian singer/songwriter Dua Lipa crafted a delightful collection of catchy pop gems where the songs only serve to highlight her vocal prowess. Lithe enough to avoid production overkill and containing just enough substance to nourish, Dua Lipa arrived after years of studio time and six big singles (three of which became U.K. Top 40 hits). The album is front-loaded with those highlights, creating a rush of dancefloor intensity with "Hotter Than Hell," "Be the One," "Blow Your Mind (Mwah)," and the duet with Miguel, "Lost in Your Light." The second half of the LP shines an extra spotlight on Lipa's voice, which, to some extent, can echo the control and power of Adele and Sia. "Garden" is a sweeping, soulful number that does just that, combining the dramatics of a slow-burning Sia ballad with Adele's delivery. "No Goodbyes" is another emotional journey, one of the handful of absolutely yearning and pained confessions from Lipa's broken heart. The acoustic R&B "Thinking 'Bout You" smolders, a lovelorn lament that finds Lipa exhausting her chemical outlets in an attempt to forget a past romance. In a similar vein, "New Rules" is all house-inflected shine, a cautionary list that cleverly warns "if you're under him, you're not over him." In addition to Miguel, a pair of other guests contribute additional highlights. The MNEK-produced kiss-off "IDGAF" is a cheeky, Ed Sheeran-esque singalong that provides a perfect anthem for anyone who has ever been burned by love. "Homesick" -- written by Chris Martin -- could be a direct sequel to Coldplay's 2016 single "Everglow." The delicate ballad reveals Lipa's vulnerability and softness, the defenses of studio production stripped away, leaving only Lipa, Martin, and a twinkling piano. Such exposure isn't found elsewhere on the rest of the album, which is mostly concerned with self-empowerment and Lipa's refreshingly defiant attitude. It's moments like this one that strike such a satisfying balance on Dua Lipa, an excellent first effort from a budding pop star. © Neil Z. Yeung /TiVo
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Alternative & Indie - Released May 5, 2006 | Warner Records

Indulgence has long been a way of life for the Red Hot Chili Peppers, yet they resisted the siren's call of the double album until 2006's Stadium Arcadium. Sure, 1991's breakthrough Blood Sugar Sex Magik was as long as a classic double LP, but such distinctions mattered little in the era when vinyl gave way to CD, and they matter less now, as the CD gradually gives way to digital-only releases. In fact, like how Blood Sugar was the tipping point when the LPs ceded ground to CDs, Stadium Arcadium could be seen as the point when albums were seen as a collection of digital playlists. Yes, it's pressed up as a two-disc set -- including an extravagant but pointless special edition housed in a clunky box that includes a make-yer-own-spinning-top -- but this is an album that's designed for you to mix and match, create your own playlist, rip and burn on your own. It's designed for you to sequence its 28 songs in some kind of cohesive manner, since the band sure didn't take the time to do that here; it's the first major album by a major band that makes as much sense on random as it does in its proper sequencing. Well, that's not entirely true: the official 28-song album does begin with "Dani California," the clearest single here, the one thing that truly grabs attention upon first listen and worms its way into your subconscious, where it just won't let go, as so much of Anthony Kiedis' catchiest melodies do. After that, it's a long, winding path of alternately spacey and sunny pop, ballads, and the occasional funk workout that used to be the Chili Peppers' signature but now functions as a way to break up the monotony. And there needs to be something to break up the monotony, not because the music is bad but because it all exists at the same level and is given a flat, colorless production that has become the signature of Rick Rubin as of late. Rubin may be able to create the right atmosphere for Flea and John Frusciante to run wild creatively -- an opportunity that they seize here, which is indeed a pleasure to hear -- but he does nothing to encourage them to brighten the finished recording up with some different textures, or even a greater variety of guitar tones. As such, the bare-bone production combined with the relentless march of songs gives Stadium Arcadium the undeniable feel of wading through the demos for a promising project instead of a sprawling statement of purpose; there's not enough purpose here for it to be a statement. That fault is down to the band not forming the raw material into something palatable for the listener, but there's also the problem that as a lyricist Anthony Kiedis just isn't that deep or clever enough to provide cohesive themes for an album of this length; he tackles no new themes here, nor does he provide new insight to familiar topics. To his credit, he does display a greater versatility as a vocalist, cutting back on the hambone rapping that used to be his signature and crooning throughout the bulk of this album, usually on key. That said, he still has enough goofy tics to undercut his attempts at sincerity, and he tends to be a bit of a liability to the band as a whole; with a different singer, who could help shape and deliver these songs, this album might not seem as formless and gormless. But there is a fair amount of pleasures here, all down to the interplay between Flea and Frusciante. While drummer Chad Smith does prove himself quite versatile here, gracefully following the eccentric turns and meanderings of the bassist and guitarist, the string instruments are the reason to listen to Stadium Arcadium. That's always been the case to a certain extent with the Chili Peppers, but here it's especially true, as they push and pull, rave and rumble, lie back and rock out -- pretty much spit out anything they can do on their instruments over the course of 28 songs. As good as much of this is, there is a little bit of monotony here, since they're working variations on their signature themes, and they haven't found a way to make these variations either transcendent or new; they're just very good renditions on familiar themes. These tracks rarely betray their origins as studio jams -- more than ever, it's possible to hear that the track came first, then the song -- and while that can result in some good listening, it all does kind of drift together. That said, there are no bad tracks here -- it's all of a relatively high quality -- but there are no standouts either, so it takes a very dedicated fan to start sorting out the subtleties between the tracks (not the wheat from the chaff, since it's all wheat). And while those hardcore fans may certainly enjoy the make-your-own-adventure spirit of Stadium Arcadium, it's hard not to feel that it's the band's responsibility to take this very good repetitive album and mold it into something sharper and more effective. So call it the rock version of Peter Jackson's King Kong: there's something pretty great and lean buried beneath the excess, but it's so indulgent, it's a work that only a fanboy could truly love. © Stephen Thomas Erlewine /TiVo

Rock - Released February 20, 2015 | Warner Records

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Rock - Released October 9, 2020 | Warner Records

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Alternative & Indie - Released June 1, 2018 | Warner Records

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Alternative & Indie - Released October 11, 2010 | Warner Records

The Replacements were one of the three great American underground bands of the '80s (the other two were R.E.M. and Hüsker Dü), influencing a generation of alternative bands with their ramshackle, ragged rocking and Paul Westerberg's heart-tugging songs. In short, they were the band no one heard except for the young guitar-slingers inspired to form bands of their own. All for Nothing/Nothing for All, a double-disc set comprised of one disc of "hits" and one disc of rarities, is supposed to offer proof of the group's influence, but it actually inadvertently dismantles their legend. For legal reasons, the hits disc All for Nothing couldn't feature highlights from their Twin/Tone releases, which means their rawest recordings and gems like "Within Your Reach," "I Will Dare," and "Androgynous" aren't here. Instead, four songs each from their Reprise albums -- Tim, Pleased to Meet Me, Don't Tell a Soul, All Shook Down -- are featured, and while most of the obvious suspects are here, they make the Replacements sound downright traditional; based on these tracks, the only '90s bands they influenced were Americana groups like Wilco and the Bottle Rockets, not indie punk and grunge outfits like Nirvana. And, surprisingly, the Replacements don't even rock that hard on these Reprise records -- the production, as many longtime fans have claimed, tames their wilder tendencies. Nevertheless, many of the songs on All for Nothing are among Westerberg's finest and prove that he was a talented songwriter, especially since the filler that plagued every Replacements album has been saved for disc two, Nothing for All, which is comprised entirely of B-sides and unreleased cuts. Still, there are a couple of gems on the disc, particularly the early Alex Chilton-produced take of "Can't Hardly Wait" and the Tom Waits-assisted rave-up "Date to Church." © Stephen Thomas Erlewine /TiVo
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Pop - Released April 17, 1998 | Warner Records

Including four new tracks, the two-disc set Around the Campfire is an excellent overview of Peter, Paul & Mary's career as it nears the four-decade mark. As indicated by the title, the focus of the collection is to shine a spotlight on songs that express ideals of community, tunes commonly sung in schools and churches as well as at more intimate gatherings; toward that aim, the trio offers newly recorded renditions of such perennials as "Kumbaya," "Michael, Row the Boat Ashore," "Down by the Riverside," and "Goodnight Irene." The inclusion of such longtime favorites as "Puff (The Magic Dragon)," "If I Had a Hammer," "Blowin' in the Wind," and "Leaving on a Jet Plane" solidifies Around the Campfire as a superior retrospective of Peter, Paul & Mary's music, one particularly ideal for younger listeners. © Jason Ankeny /TiVo
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Alternative & Indie - Released September 28, 2012 | Warner Records

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Alternative & Indie - Released November 18, 2003 | Warner Records

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Alternative & Indie - Released August 23, 2005 | Warner Records

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Alternative & Indie - Released June 1, 2018 | Warner Records

Though "She Don't Use Jelly" paved the way for their breakthrough, the Flaming Lips never seemed like a singles band. With albums as complex and consistent as The Soft Bulletin and Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots, their music didn't feel like it could be reduced to a handful of standout songs. Nevertheless, Greatest Hits, Vol. 1 does an admirable job of boiling down their sprawling quarter-century stint on Warner Bros. into a slightly more manageable three-disc set remastered by the band and longtime collaborator Dave Fridmann. Although missing the ebb and flow of their albums, the collection features the Lips' most immediate songs from over the years, from Hit to Death in the Future Head's "Talkin' 'Bout the Smiling Deathporn Immortality Blues (Everyone Wants to Live Forever)" to Yoshimi's "Do You Realize??" to Oczy Mlody's "The Castle" (and, of course, Transmissions from the Satellite Heart's "She Don't Use Jelly"). Along with gathering highlights from the band's major albums in a democratic fashion, Greatest Hits, Vol. 1 also nods to experiments like Zaireeka and The Flaming Lips and Heady Fwends. The album's third disc might be the most enticing for die-hard fans thanks to its mix of demos (including the previously unreleased 1991 demo "Zero to a Million"), songs from soundtracks, and hard-to-find releases. Released during a time when hits collections often seemed obsolete, Greatest Hits, Vol. 1 caters to all levels of Flaming Lips fans and does it well. © Heather Phares /TiVo

Rock - Released February 19, 2015 | Warner Records

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Rock - Released October 16, 2020 | Warner Records

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Rock - Released October 16, 2020 | Warner Records

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