The Wildflowers first surfaced from the “black country”, in the West Midlands in 1984. They secured their first recording contract after only one show with independent label “Future” who soon changed their name to REFLEX.
The band recorded two singles and their debut album for the label, gaining excellent reviews in the UK and Europe. This enabled the band to tour Holland three times and support Simple Minds on their 1984 UK tour. At the end of ’84, original member, Dave Newton left “The Wildflowers” to form “The Mighty Lemon Drops”. A replacement was not needed as Dave Atherton moved from keyboards to lead guitar.
1985 was a lean year for the ‘flowers, carving out a new sound, heavily influenced by the Paisley Underground sound in California, and edging towards the ’70s east coast feel of bands like “Television”, “Patti Smith” and the more recent “Smithereens”.
The Wildflowers found a niche, and a new label, Chapter 22, spotted them playing at a retro psychedelic club in Birmingham. The label thought the band were cool, and signed them.
Chapter 22 went on to release four singles and two albums. Rave reviews and singles of the week in the weekly papers earned the band attention from American company “Big Time”, who were please to release Dust, the ‘flower’s second album. Near hysterical reaction came from the US, putting “The Wildflowers” in 2nd place in the critic’s pick of the year, behind REM.
Meanwhile, in the UK, the ‘flowers were touring constantly. A few highlights were blowing away “Husker Du” in Birmingham, selling out Dingwalls in London, tours with the Icicle Works, and a thirty date headline tour. Record sales were also picking up, and with each release, the band would enter the independent charts. “The Wildflowers” were growing.
In 1988, the US label “Big Time” folded. With this, the band had to scrap a proposed tour of the US, with ‘The Midnight Oil’. This was soon forgotten as Slash Records, in Los Angeles, took up the option release their third album, Sometime Soon. The band were delighted with this, as they were with the news of a worldwide publishing deal with Zomba Music.
However, bad news came when a fully booked coast to coast of the US, with The Might Lemon Drops had to be cancelled due to visa problems. While the band blamed their management, their management blamed the Mexicans!
News filtered through that refunds were being given after the ‘flowers were removed from the advertising.
Not surprisingly, it was around this time that the band grew tired of their management, and decided to “go it alone”. They signed directly to Slash for the world releases, while London Records handled their UK releases.
Tale Like These
The fourth album, “Tales Like These” was recorded in California, with producer “Matt Wallace” at the the controls. Located in San Francisco and Los Angeles, the band created a record full of spark and great tunes again. However, this nearly didn’t happen, as Dave Fisher left the band two weeks before the departure, to concentrate on his marriage. Simon Atkins stepped in.
Tales Like These, again was well liked by critics, but in the UK, it was partly overlooked due to the bad publicity and the growing Manchester music scene. In the US, the plan was still on course, and the ‘flowers were invited to tour with Concrete Blonde, who, at the time, were riding high. However, lady luck, who never like the flowers, reared her ugly head, and between the new management, the record label, and booking agent, who knows how they bought the whole thing down.
The band “took a deep breath, poured a large Jack, and contacted their good friend”, their lawyer. To say this was the last straw was an understatement. The band began to splinter in ’91, and folder. This brings you onto their new release, Backwoods.
Neal Cook, the main songwriter, continued writing and would sporadically get the band back together in various guises. They recorded the odd song here and there, making use of down time in studios, built up over the years. This collection of tracks has eventually turned into The Wildflower’s fifth album, Backwoods.
Revolver’s Black label heard the tapes, and wanted to release them. The Flowers accepted, and are happy to get a deal sorted quickly, despite interest from majors, allowing the album to be released as early as spring 1995.