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Petty wins battle over new LP’s price
By Steve Pond
Rolling Stone #342 — April 30, 1981
The big news about Tom Petty’s fourth album, Hard Promises, is that the record’s list price will be $8.98 — a figure Petty publicly demanded, holding up the album’s production when MCA Records indicated that it might release the LP at $9.98.
“It’s a great example of what can be done,” Petty said. “The kids responded and something happened. But I hope people don’t get the impression that I hate this industry. There are some good people in the business, and I’m relieved that for once the record company was big enough to accept public opinion. I’ve gotta thank all the fans who wrote in, because they’re the ones who really helped me out.”
Petty said the album, which he coproduced with Jimmy Iovine, is “very much a rock album, but we do push into some stuff we haven’t done before. We did a lot more with keyboards and vocals, and the songs aren’t all two and a half minutes long, either. There aren’t any all-day wonders, but some are in the four-minute range.”
The LP — which is due out in late April — was recorded in Los Angeles over a four-month period, with Petty trimming down the roughly thirty songs he wrote during his Damn the Torpedoes tour. The ten tunes he finally settled on include “The Waiting,” “Kings Road” and “You Can Still Change Your Mind,” written by Petty and guitarist Mike Campbell.
Also on the record is “The Insider,” which features harmony vocals by Stevie Nicks. “I wrote the song for myself,” Petty said, “but Stevie wanted something for her solo album, so I gave it to her. Then she decided to sing harmony, not lead, so we tried it, and it came out great. Afterward she said, ‘I can tell you’re excited about it; why don’t you keep it and we’ll do another song for my album.’ I’m happy that she let me steal it back, because it’s one of my favorite songs I’ve written.”
“The Insider” is an acoustic number, but “Stop Draggin’ My Heart Around,” which will appear on Nicks’ solo album, “is more like us; we got the old girl rocking.” Petty has also just finished producing an album for Sixties rocker Del Shannon — a record he started in late 1979 and worked on “three days at a time for two years.” And in June, after the release of Hard Promises, he’ll begin a nationwide tour.