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Review: Petty album satisfying
By Michael Lawson
Regina Leader-Post — April 6, 1985
The new album from Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers may not be worth breaking a band over — as Petty is reported to have done in a fit of pique during a particularly frustating recording session. But if the singer-songwriter never lifted pen or guitar again, Petty will have put the stamp on his career with Southern Accents (MCA Records).
His first release since 1982’s Long After Dark, and infinitely more satisfying, Accents has Petty concerning himself less with the musical mainstream and more with stylistic divergence. The result is a song collection that’s uneven on the surface but surprisingly appealing.
From track to track his vocals and song styles shift, borrowing liberally from other rock notables, including Bob Dylan, Mick Jagger and Bruce Springsteen — the cut Dogs On the Run, in fact, has elements of all three.
But Petty’s writing has never been stronger, nor more varied. From a commercial standpoint, his safest tunes, Rebels and Make It Better (Forget About Me), both pack considerable appeal. However, the quirky stuff accounts for the album’s real value.
For instance, It Ain’t Nothin’ to Me — one of three collaborations with Eurythmics’ Dave Stewart — effectively combines funk with a sort of gospel chant; Don’t Come Around Here No More (with Stewart contributing a rather basic sitar) is one of the album’s most repeatble cuts; and the bluesy Spike, a forthright slam at the tough posturings of leather boys, is written and delivered with the sort of sardonic sneer that Randy Newman is noted for.
Of the two ballads, Petty’s “poor white trash” portrayal of the title tune is especially touching. His other one, The Best of Everything, isn’t altogether accurately named, but it’s hardly a weak number.