Revisiting that list now, I was surprised at how high I placed this album. It certainly had no chance of cracking the top three (Damn the Torpedoes, Full Moon Fever and Wildflowers) but four is still a pretty lofty position given Petty’s legendary status.
When Tom Petty died three years ago at just 66, he seemed to have a lot more in the tank. In the ’10s, he had already released two strong albums with the Heartbreakers (Mojo and Hypnotic Eye) and one with his old band, Mudcrutch.
In a career that spanned 40 years, Petty released some incredible albums, and the greatest of them all was arguably 1994’s Wildflowers. That sprawling set skipped between genres, from country grunge to acoustic folk, and found Petty at his most emotionally raw and creatively open.
Petty’s family plans to release a retrospective collection, perhaps as soon as this year, celebrating that great album. The release will include demos and early recordings pulled from the Wildflowers sessions.
It’s bittersweet to see Tom Petty pop up as a Random Weekend selection, just a few days past the one-year anniversary of his death. ‘A Higher Place’ is an appropriate title, I suppose, even if the song is not about heaven but rather a flood.
This is Petty at his Byrds-ian best, all jangly guitars and sweet harmonies. ‘A Higher Place’ is a standout track on one of Petty’s most special albums, Wildflowers.
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.