Review by Don Cope
The Technique — Friday, November 19, 1976
Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers (Shelter)
With his emaciated appearance and his leather jacket, you’d think that Tom Petty is the next star of decadence rock, right?
Wrong again. Petty is simply the latest graduate of the Dwight Twilley School of No-Frills Rock. The funny part is that Petty’s debut album is much better than Twilley’s Sincerely released earlier this year.
Petty has got the “I’m On Fire” (Twilley’s big hit) riff down pat and has made it a little heavier. Like Twilley, Petty tries to incorporate sixties rock style melodies into his songs.
He succeeds on two songs in particular, “The Wild One, Forever” and “American Girl.” The former features Petty’s best vocal performance and the latter is the best rocker but it fades out just as the Heartbreakers really begin to cook.
The star of the Heartbreakers is guitarist Mike Campbell. While he never gets the chance to step out and solo, his rhythm work is the backbone of this album.
Unfortunately, Petty and the Heartbreakers may never get off the ground without a hit single, although Twilley has had one and he continues to wallow in relative obscurity.