Mrs. Carter rules pop culture right now, musically, socially and politically, while Petty is a deeply respected classic rock dinosaur. Is it even a fair fight?
Awhile ago I was browsing earlier posts on the blog and I happened upon a series of entries in the early 2,000’s that overlapped. Specifically, ten numbers — 2,117 through 2,126 — were used back to back. I have two 2,117s, two 2,118s and so on.
That means my 3,000th blog post was really my 3,011th. At least that’s what it means if I found the only such mistake in my 8 years of blogging.
‘Red River’ – Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers
If rock-and-roll is essentially dead, replaced by the dominance of pop, hip-hop and alternative, nobody told Tom Petty.
On Hypnotic Eye, his best album since Wildflowers (and that’s paying full respect to such great records as Highway Companion and Mojo), he unleashes monster guitar riffs and sticky melodies just like in the good old days.
Neil Tennant and Chris Lowe, the writers and performers who made up Pet Shop Boys, have said that their 1985 hit ‘West End Girls’ drew inspiration from ‘The Message’ by Grandmaster Flash.
If you listen to it with that in mind, it totally makes sense.
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.’
In 2006, Petty decided to team up once again with Jeff Lynne, producer of Full Moon Fever, to record his third solo album. The record was Highway Companion and, while it never reaches the heights of previous solo efforts Full Moon Fever or Wildflowers, it did signal a return to form.
Three years after Into the Great Wide Open, Tom Petty shifted gears away from the Jeff Lynne-influenced work of his last two successful albums. 1994’s Wildflowers, produced by Rick Rubin, was Petty’s second solo album (though once again all of The Heartbreakers played on it).
It’s also arguably the best thing Petty has ever recorded. Sprawling and alternately beautiful and grungy, Wildflowers is the most mature and rich Petty album. Damn the Torpedoes, Full Moon Fever and this record form my Tom Petty Holy Trinity.