[Continuing my countdown of favorite Tom Petty albums, in honor of the late, great musician.]
In my #2 spot is Tom Petty’s first, and best, solo album.
#2 – Full Moon Fever (1989)
Though I was familiar with several of Tom Petty’s singles with The Heartbreakers, Full Moon Fever was the first full-length album of his I owned. It was also one of the first CDs I purchased for myself as I transitioned to that new digital format.
Best Albums of the 80s – #5
Full Moon Fever – Tom Petty (1989)
The second Tom Petty album on this countdown, Full Moon Fever, is a collection of pop hits that’s as much fun as you can have wearing headphones. I can’t even think about this album without smiling.
Full Moon Fever is packed with wonderful surprises, from the “little freak with the lunch pail purse” who populates ‘Zombie Zoo’ through the sweet lullaby of ‘Alright For Now’ to Petty’s acknowledgement that he’s been to Micanopy and his middle name is Earl in ‘A Mind With a Heart of its Own.’
Two years after releasing his most obscure album, Tom Petty would return with his most popular. But first he took an interesting detour.
In 1998, Petty stumbled onto a recording session with Roy Orbison, Jeff Lynne, George Harrison and Bob Dylan. Harrison had left a guitar at Petty’s house and Petty accompanied him back to Dylan’s home studio after handing it over. The four men were laying down a track for the B-side of Harrison’s next single. They invited Petty to join.
Tom Petty’s 1989 Full Moon Fever was his first solo album and remains his one truly flawless effort. He has put out wonderful albums both on his own and with The Heartbreakers (Wildflowers and Southern Accents are particular favorites) but nothing quite as consistent and immediate as this one.
Full Moon Fever is like the Thriller of southern rock. It’s packed with hits (five of its singles reached Billboard’s top five, including three straight number ones), one hook-laden track flowing into the next for 43 minutes of pure bliss. Not only doesn’t it have a weak song, it doesn’t have a weak moment.
Have you ever heard somebody describe a dream or aspiration and liked it so much that you adopted it as your own?
I don’t mean something broad and obvious like “I want to travel the world” but something specific and tangible like “I want to see the Taj Mahal at sunset.” The image clicks with you and suddenly, yeah, you want to see the Taj Mahal at sunset, too.
So what does this have to do with Tom Petty?