Wild Flowers

  • Wild Flowers
  • The Joy of It All (UK Reflex) 1984 
  • Dust (Big Time) 1987 
  • Sometime Soon (Slash) 1988 
  • Take Me for a Ride EP (UK Chapter 22) 1988 
  • Tales Like These (Slash) 1990 

A guitar band from the English Midlands, the Wild Flowers mate the Ramones’ breakneck speed and Television’s guitar interplay with Echo & the Bunnymen’s intensity and attack on The Joy of It All. Poorly recorded for a tiny label, the album disappeared quickly as, so it seemed, did the band when founding guitarist-songwriter Dave Newton left to start the Mighty Lemon Drops.

Replacing Newton with David Atherton, the quartet recorded a couple of singles during ’86; adding three more tracks, that made Dust. With the exception of “A Kind of Kingdom” (which Hugh Jones produced), the recordings are again pretty awful, but the band’s energy can’t be denied. While the guitars play off each other with reckless abandon, Mark Alexander’s bass darts in and out between them. Television is still the best reference point, especially as singer Neil Cook tends to shamelessly ape Tom Verlaine.

Sometime Soon is the Wild Flowers’ first fully realized album, and it’s intense from start to finish. The songs are virtually all vitriolic putdowns of the girl who left the guy behind, and Cook’s vocals are so filled with bile you can almost picture the veins popping out of his neck as he sings them. The guitars bark, bite, scratch and yell at a furious pace. Angry music, ideal for people nursing a deep hurt.

The Take Me for a Ride EP features two very different versions of one of Sometime Soon‘s less caustic numbers (one all electric, the other featuring an acoustic lead) plus three non-LP cuts more in keeping with the album’s nasty tone.

Tales Like These was recorded in California with Matt Wallace, who’d just finished the Replacements’ Don’t Tell a Soul. Perhaps, like the Mats, the Wild Flowers felt the need to slow down a bit; musically it’s far more varied than Sometime Soon. But the subject matter hasn’t changed much: either these guys really know how to hold a grudge or they’re doormats for a whole procession of hellish women. Let’s hope they work it out before things get too ugly.

[Dave Schulps]

See also: Mighty Lemon Drops