The world is littered with the failed offspring of the famous. Often these stories are comic but on more than one occasion they've turned tragic. Bob Dylan is a legend. Jakob is his son. After the Wallflowers, with Jakob as the singer and principal songwriter, were dropped by their label following their debut album, it looked as though Jakob was going to forever live in his dad's shadow. However, the younger Dylan had a couple tricks left.
Quickly rebounding, the Wallflowers; Dylan, Rami Jaffe (keyboards), Greg Richling (bass), Michael Ward (guitar) and Mario Calire (drums) hooked up with Interscope Records and got a second chance at making a first impression.
"6th Avenue Heartache," the first single off "Bringing Down The Horse," was not surprising choice since a demo of that song got them signed. While the song did OK, it was the troubled yet defiantly captivating "One Headlight," that broke through and made the Wallflowers a major act.
The "Breach" album was released in '01 with "Red Letter Days" coming a year later. Neither album had the impact of "Bringing Down The Horse." In '05 the group made something of a comeback with "Rebel, Sweetheart."
While the Wallflowers didn't tour in '06, individual band members did. Jaffee hit the road with the Foo Fighters on their acoustic tour, and a solo Dylan opened for T-Bone Burnett. Also, drummer Fred Eltringham worked with the Dixie Chicks.
Jaffe left the Wallflowers in '07 and Dylan made his solo debut, "Seeing Things," the following year. "Collected: 1996-2005," a '09 greatest hits package, was supported by a tour that included Bill Appleberry on keyboards and guitarist Stuart Mathis, who had been with the Wallflowers since '07.
Then the group went on hiatus.
"We all felt we were losing the plot a little bit and we needed a break," explained Dylan. "And that year break becomes two years, then becomes three years, and before you know it five or six years go by pretty quickly."
When the Wallflowers reconvened to recording their sixth studio album, the line-up had some familiar faces:, Dylan, Jaffe (having returned), Richling, Mathis, and drummer Jack Irons.
"I can't do what I do in the Wallflowers without them. I miss it," stated Dylan. "I came up loving bands and I want to be in one."
"Glad All Over," dropped in '12. It contained the single "Reboot The Mission."
1992 The Wallflowers
1996 Bringing Down The Horse
2002 Red Letter Days
2005 Rebel, Sweetheart
2012 Glad All Over
The "Bringing Down The Horse," album took Jakob Dylan from being an icon's son to a star in his own right. While the album contained "6th Avenue Heartache" and "The Difference," "One Headlight" was the Wallflower's inescapable song.
"Letters From The Wasteland" kicks off "Breach." It Rocks. That's exactly what you want from an opening track. Not surprisingly, Dylan's lyrics have twists and turns that invite interpretation. Just like his old man. "Some Flowers Bloom Dead" "Murder 101" are the two other haunting Rockers. "Hand Me Down" is a mid-tempo Blues recreation of "6th Avenue Heartache," while the hook laden "Sleepwalker" comes closest to "One Headlight's" dramatic turf. As with "Bringing Down The Horse," Dylan wrote all the songs. A bonus CD has a live version of "Invisible City" and an alternate version of "Sleepwalker.
"Breach," doesn't have the intensity or urgency that marked "Horses" but things really slide with "Red Letter Days." This cozily distracted effort opens with acoustic Rocker "When You're On Top," where Dylan does a passable imitation of his dad. Why? He made a big deal distancing himself from his legendary father early in his career. While he may still lack the old man's depth and perception, he is usually a far better singer. "How Good Can It Get," "Feels Like Summer Again" and "Here In Pleasantville" are good songs, but only good songs. Where the Wallflowers fail most glaringly is when they try to put some teeth in their music. "Everybody Out Of The Water" and "Too Late To Quit" have the energy but they don't connect. Missing is the euphoric feeling of their earlier, more reckless songs. All the opaque lyrics in the world can't cover that up.
On "Rebel, Sweetheart" The Wallflowers use Bruce Springsteen, Tom Petty, Bob Seger and even John Mellencamp as touchstones. That's a good thing. There are life stories told with energy and urgency. "The Beautiful Side Of Somewhere," released as a single, is one of several direct and honest songs; the type that are missing from previous efforts.
Everything that made "Bringing Down The Horse" a brilliant album is evident on "Glad All Over." The hook filled songs possess an epic vision as Dylan sounds less like his father and more like Springsteen. "Hospital For Sinners" and the hard-edged "Reboot The Mission" stand out on an album filled with gems.