Amid all this talk of “fusion,” here’s an album that goes entirely in the other direction. Mudcrutch was Tom Petty’s band before he formed the Heartbreakers and hit it big. They put out a couple albums that are pretty much lost now, and this self-titled album serves as their 38-year reunion. It’s a cool concept, though not quite as cool as it could be, considering 4/5 of Mudcrutch went on to join the Heartbreakers anyway. So basically, this album is a chance for one old friend to play with the band again.
The band sounds great, probably because they have been playing together for over 30 years, and the music differs from Petty’s solo (and Heartbreaker) output by sticking to roots rock and country. It’s a bit like the Traveling Wilburys’ first album, but with less distinctive songwriting. It’s the kind of music you want playing in the background when you go to a cowboy bar (as I do, frequently).
My one complaint about the album, apart from its ordinariness, is that it’s too damn long — fourteen songs with a very similar vibe, one of which stretches past the 9-minute mark. To echo Amy’s point about the digital age (if you missed it, check out the comments on the Counting Crows thread), these songs will serve very well popping up on a random iPod playlist. But taken as a whole, it’s a little too much of an OK thing.