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New Discs: Petty soars into Byrdland
Review by John Laycock
The Windsor Star — Friday, June 5, 1981
Hard Promises — Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers (Backstreet-MCA): The Waiting, the very first song on the first side of the new album, opens with the strum of a 12-string guitar, the clink of a tambourine, and the high winsome wail of a none-too-sweet voice — and I think I’m back in Byrdland. Petty’s come even closer to the sound of Roger McGuinn’s old Byrds than on his previous album, Damn the Torpedoes.
All guitar bands are in debt to the Byrds, those “folk-rock” pioneers who put electricity into zingy harmonies and social consciousness into lyrics. Petty’s resemblence is closer than most, though, and it gives his music extra force.
Unlike the Eagles-Jackson Browne gang, Petty puts a raw flatness into his performance. No glow; like McGuinn, his voice is edgy and insistent. His lyrics are more direct, neither cynical nor mystical.
True enough, the new album is somewhat more introspective, but Petty remains a rocker, able to charge along King’s Road or A Thing About You. The record promises a substantial show at Cobo tonight.