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.