Into the Great Wide Open was the follow-up to 1989’s Full Moon Fever, and can’t help but pale in comparison to that all-time classic. But this is still a very good collection in the same smart Byrds-ian pop-rock vein as its predecessor.
Recently I bought several of Petty’s early albums at bargain basement prices on Amazon, more as a show of support than anything. None of those albums live up to his best work — Damn the Torpedoes, Full Moon Fever, Southern Accents and Wildflowers — but they are all thoroughly listenable.
Having always been a huge fan of this album, I was surprised to see that it received generally tepid critical reviews. Individual tracks receive high marks (‘Rebels,’ ‘Don’t Come Around Here No More’ and the title track, specifically) but the album as a whole was dismissed as an uneven hodgepodge.
His latest record, Hypnotic Eye, is performed (as all but three of his albums have been) with The Heartbreakers, and the band’s familiarity with each other and the material shines through on every track. This is as beautifully seasoned as a rock band gets.
The way I see it, most modern rock music derives either from folk, pop or the blues. I have examples of all three in the 35 artists I’m featuring during this series, but I have designated categories for only the first two.
The reason I’m calling this group of bands “FOLK ROCK DERIVATIVES” and not just folk rockers is they have all moved well past those roots into many different styles of music. But there’s no denying their earliest influences.
Southern Accents – Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers (1985)
Tom Petty is an artist who could have albums on best-of-decade lists from the 70s, 80s and 90s. And he kicked off the 10’s in excellent fashion with Mojo, so the man is showing no signs of stopping anytime soon.
I don’t know that he receives enough credit for the amazing career he’s forged — he’s too often described as a follower of the great artists he counts among his peers rather than a fellow trailblazer. But you can stack his output against pretty much anybody’s.