New Notes: Heartbreakers: A bag of Petty cash
By Mike Daly
Melbourne Age — January 30, 1986
If you had shares in Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers right now, they would be platinum-edged.
This year the boys from Gainesville, North Florida, celebrate a decade of recording — culminating with Southern Accents, one of their most successful albums and, undoubtedly, one of 1985’s best — on the brink of a world tour with Bob Dylan (the are at Kooyong on 20, 21 and 22 February).
Petty and Co in concert are one of the most professional, no-nonsense outfits around, as those who saw them here in 1980 will attest. They have a lot in common with the E Street Band, although Bruce Springsteen is in a league of his own when it comes to vocal power and stage charisma.
Members of the Heartbreakers were in great demand for session work last year, including dates with Dylan, the Eurythmics, Lone Justice, Stevie Nicks and the Blasters. They still found time for the Southern Accents US concert tour, packing even more punch by adding the Soul Lips Horns trio and the Rebelettes backing vocal duo.
The result can be heard on Pack Up The Plantation — Live! (MCA 8021-1), a two-LP set that sells for $14.99 (Petty likes to keep prices down).
Naturally, there are several songs from Southern Accents: the evocative title track (with Mike Campbell on lap slide guitar), the lusty, brass-enhanced Rebels and the catchy It Ain’t Nothin’ To Me by Petty and Dave Stewart.
The hit Don’t Come Around Here No More is omitted but this makes sense as buyers of the concert album probably own a copy of Southern Accents.
The set opens with So You Want To Be A Rock & Roll Star, an old favorite by the Byrds who exerted a strong influence on teenagers Petty (vocals, guitar), Mike Campbell (lead guitar), Benmont Tench (keyboards) and bassist Ron Blair in the Gainesville band Mudcrutch.
In the mid-1970s, with drummer Stan Lynch, they formed the Heartbreakers in Los Angeles. Howie Epstein replaced Blair on Long After Dark in 1982.
Stevie Nicks returns a favor and duets with Petty on Needles And Pins and the haunting Insider, although Stop Draggin’ My Heart Around night have been a better choice than the half-hearted Needles. Other unexpected highlights are the long, jumping version of the Isley Brothers’ Shout and Goffin-King’s Don’t Bring Me Down, recalling the Animals.
But the Petty favorites score best. The plaintive The Waiting is followed by a show-stopping Breakdown, during which the audience joins in and Petty jokes; “You’re gonna put me out of a job.”
American Girl, from the 1976 debut album, is guitar-riffing southern rock at its finest; Campbell also flies high on the big, brassy Refugee and We Got Lucky.
They close nostalgically with another cover, John Sebastian’s Stories We Could Tell, accompanied by Bobby Valentino on the country fiddle. In 1980, Petty and the Heartbreakers climaxed their Melbourne concert with an earsplitting rock medley that included the Rolling Stones’ arrangement of Route 66. Watch out, Kooyong!