CD Review: The Wallflowers and Tonic

The Wallflowers
Collected 1996-2005
Interscope/UME

Tonic
A Casual Affair: The Best of Tonic
Universal Records/Polydor/UME

Reviews by David Chiu

The Wallflowers and Tonic emerged in the ‘90s with their earnest and melodic AOR music. These two new compilations spotlighting each band’s catalog will surely put you in a flashback to the decade when there was once an abundance of radio-friendly rock bands: matchbox 20, Counting Crows, Vertical Horizon and Sister Hazel to name a few.

Of the two, the Wallflowers, led by Jakob Dylan, had the most success and recognition thanks to their breakthrough 1996 album Bringing Down the Horse and massive hit “One Headlight.” Collected focuses on the band’s output for Interscope, thus songs from their Virgin debut are not here. For the many listeners who only bought Bringing Down the Horse, Collected packages some noteworthy songs from subsequent albums Breach and Red Letter Day and Rebel Sweetheart: standouts include the poppy and soulful “I’ve Been Delievered” the wonderful “Closer To You” and “How Good Can It Get.” Of course including songs from Bringing Down… is a no-brainer with “One Headlight,” “6th Avenue Heartache” and the lovely “Three Marlenas.” Collected makes a strong case the band was more than just that one hit album.

Something similar can be said for the group Tonic on their best-of collection: their best known for the hits “If You Can Only See” and “Open Up Your Eyes” but there’s also some plenty of good songs from their previous albums that may deserve some reconsideration. A Casual Affair showcases both the band’s driving hard melodic hard rock in “Take Me As I Am,” “Irish” and “You Wanted More”; and their knack for the power ballad in Mean to Me and the great Lemon Parade. If this band is guilty of anything in the eyes of the critics, it’s perhaps that their music is just too catchy.

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