‘Let Me Up’ Has Flare, Fire
By Tom Ford
Toledo Blade — June 20, 1987
“Let Me Up (I’ve Had Enough),” Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers (MCA).
From the first jangly nouveau-Keith Richards chords of “Jammin’ Me,” to the last twinge of the title tune, this is a fine, honest album.
Whether one likes Tom Petty’s patented slurred-diction delivery or not, he undeniably has a lot to say about the world, and he says it with flare and fire. There is much good music here. It is rough. It is ferocious in places, and it can be tender.
In a time when rock records are becoming homogenized, “Jammin’ Me” stands out as an unpolished gem.
While many of the songs here, like all Petty albums, are ostensibly about girls, boys, cars, and love, an underlying protesting voice also sinks home. It is the voice of a generation grown tired of the repetitive pettiness (no pun) of the world.
Petty, and his masterful band of misfits, led by keyboard man Benmont Tench and guitarist Mike Campbell, is protesting not only the stress of modern day life, politics, and business, but the pressures on the artist as well.
Much of “Let Me Up…” sounds old. There is the spacey lament of “Runaway Trains” and “The Damage You’ve Done,” and the peevish pleas for a saner, slower world in “Jammin’ Me,” and “My Life/Your World.”
It is the roughness of the music though, the first-take enthusiasm reminiscent of the Rolling Stones in their early years, that makes the record work.
The band works as a well-honed unit, slashing out the Byrds-y chords and carrying the punishing lyrics with exuberance and power that is refreshing.
Perhaps touring with the legendary Bob Dylan a year or so ago really concentrated Petty’s thinking and the band’s playing into a rare, and welcome, blend of outspoken imagery and angry, honest chops.
Whatever did it, Petty and company have made an excellent record worth more than a cursory listen.