Boys’ Life — November 2011

Records: Promises Kept and Pleasant Surprises
By Ken Fulton
Boys’ Life — November 1981

HARD PROMISES** Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers — Tom Petty is a fighter. As fans of the group wanted for this album, it was delayed due to another of Petty’s battles. MCA recording company wanted to use Hard Promises as the record to introduced its increased list price for albums, $9.98. Petty refused to make rock fans dig into their pockets for an extra dollar. He finally won, and the album was released with a suggested list price of $8.98. Hard Promises may be Petty’s best album ever, well worth the wait. It is full of sharp insights about hard times, hard hearts, lard luck and the hard promises all lovers and losers have to live with. “The Waiting,” the hit single that opens the albums, sets the pace. True to the theme of Hard Promises, the song is about a man who has found his love, but only after a long struggle. “Nightwatchman,” another track, is about a man who lives on the edge of society, while “Something Big” is about a man on a desperate, mysterious mission. “A Woman In Love (It’s Not Me)” tells of a man giving all his love only to be rejected. On the second side, Stevie Nicks of Fleetwood Mac joins the band to provide harmony on the song “Insider.” It is a haunting tune that demonstrates the versatility of both Nicks and Petty and the Heartbreakers. While the album may be about hard promises, the music of Petty and his band is never a letdown.

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