Reviewed by Harry Kaplan
Rock opera is usually a moniker I detest, along with concept album. At any rate, I have no problem donning this a rock opera. It is visionary, symphonic, and rock and roll. It definitely has some strong country roots. Even through the audio samples and production value, this album is country. Not just any country, Laurel Canyon country.
It is more than only country music. As I alluded to, Wild And Reckless uses a lot of bells and whistles to accentuate their music. And it works. It doesn’t always work. Sometimes it sounds completely contrived and unnatural. It can also cheapen a recording quicker than anything. No artist likes to think of their serious work as a novelty. Well, those hypothetical instances are not applicable here. The knob twisting here is exactly in the right dosage and applied completely effectively.
If you doubt me regarding the production aspect to Wild And Reckless, listen to Stolen Hearts (Track 6). This song is an embodiment of what country music should sound like. It does not all sound the same, as this song and recording proves. I can’t help but listen to this and think of Tom Petty. I could have definitely seen Tom Petty playing this song one day. Unfortunately, that will never happen, but this recording just spreads Petty’s legacy.
The title track, Wild And Reckless (Track 2), is another track that tips its cap to Tom Petty. It really is as if he was in the recording studio with Blitzen Trapper. I can also envision Tom smiling and laughing quietly. This song again has some nice bells and whistles, but it also has talent and the music to back it up. That is the difference, the Trappers use technology as the ultimate enhancement. Even without the tech, the music could stand on its own.
As long as I am writing about Tom Petty, another song that could easily be performed with Tom himself is Dance With Me (Track 7). “Dance with me before the lights go down for good”, is the line in the chorus. It can certainly have two meanings. On the surface, it can mean let’s hook up before you come to your senses and change your mind. It can also have the meaning of do it all before you expire. “Dance with me before the lights go down for good”……That’s heavy.
You can call it a rock opera or concept album (if you must) but what you must agree on is this — it is a great album. Blitzen Trapper was listed earlier in their career as “experimental”. I guess the experiment is over because the Trapper does not need any more dress rehearsals. They got it going on. This is album number nine and it still kicks major ass.