Melbourne Age — April 25, 1980
Tom Petty has rock music in his blood, music that passionately echoes the feelings of normal people and is played at an abnormally blistering pace.
Petty’s self-assured urgency can be heard on all nine tracks on his latest album “Damn the Torpedoes.” The songs are sizzling reminders that Petty’s kind of rock isn’t dead, whatever the New Wave Press says.
Petty and his band the Heartbreakers have forged themselves a peculiar sound. The music wears the poignancy of Dylan, the melodies of the Byrds and the emotion of Springsteen, and it is capped off with Petty’s stinging lyrics and assertive musical phrases.
The 28-year-old Florida-born singer snarls his way through the single “Refugee,” which is the first contact many people have had with the band. The album and single are both number 24 in Australia.
In America Petty is huge, not only because his music is refreshingly down-to-earth and sincere but he has earned hero status as a purveyor of America’s rock and roll tradition, following in the wake of Dylan and Springsteen.
Springsteen romanticised the street and the Dodge. Petty sings about normal occurances, everyday life and probably events in his own life. He is more in touch with the “American Way” than any recent predecessors.
Petty’s music is sharp-edged, his lyrics blunt and at times bitterly aggressive. That’s hardly surprising considering the failures, putdowns, bankruptcy and lengthy court cases with record companies he has suffered.
Petty’s optimism (“everybody had to fight to be free, you see you don’t have to live like a refugee”) is occasionally stained with anger (“somewhere, somehow, somebody must have kicked you around some”).
He recently told Newsweek: “I believe people fall in love or lose their jobs, or money. I don’t believe they’ve been to outer space, and if I don’t believe it I ain’t singing it.”
His music is good, but it is Petty’s lucid lyrics that make his songs that much more important.
Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers will perform at the Palais Theatre on Thursday 1 May and Friday 2 May. Tickets from the Comedy Theatre and the Palais Theatre are $10.90.