After enough time, almost all bands run their course. But about 30 seconds into “Reboot the Mission” — the lead single from Glad All Over — you realize that Jakob Dylan’s Wallflowers are nowhere near that point and may in fact only be scratching their surface. It’s a damn fine formula for announcing a return after a seven-year studio absence: Create your own Clash track (complete with shuffle backbeat), recruit Mick Jones to play and sing on it, and insert a band roll call in the lyrics (“Welcome Jack [Irons], the new drummer/ He jammed with the mighty Joe Strummer/ I see Rami, Greg, and Stuart/ I gotta say it, ‘Jay [Joyce, producer], we’ve had it coming.’”) And it’s that demonstrable enthusiasm that makes Glad All Over an inspired reboot rather than a depressing retread.
Aside from the lead single and the glowing, beat-oriented standout “Misfits and Lovers” (also featuring Mick Jones), Glad All Over doesn’t stray far from previous output but rather recharges reliable Wallflowers fare. On throwback “First One in the Car”, Dylan’s tightly bound vocals once again mingle with Rami Jaffee’s keyboards for that moody Wallflowers sound on a tale of Lincolns, boulevards, and underpasses — environs where “in the backseat you slip/ from a girl to a woman/ in less than a minute.” Other stellar tracks, like “Hospital for Sinners”, with its search-and-destroy drive, and The Attractions-era Costello-sounding “It Won’t Be Long (Till We’re Not Wrong Anymore)”, feel like nearby destinations that the band finally chose to drive out to and explore.
Glad All Over largely succeeds because it never devolves into simply getting the old band back together. Clearly, Jakob Dylan was ready to make a rock and roll record again, and who better to turn to than his former band plus… Jack Irons? Talk about the perks of being a Wallflower.
Essential Tracks: “Misfits and Lovers”, “Reboot the Mission”, and “First One in the Car”