Tom Petty has never sounded better
By Jon Bream
Nashua Telegraph — June 21, 1987
“Let Me Up (I’ve Had Enough),” Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, (MCA)
Album-oriented rock was a major force in popular music from the mid-1970s to the mid-’80s. Just as it is fading in its dominance of the charts and airwaves as well as in its artistic significance, Tom Petty, one of the movement’s leading figures, has released his best album in years.
Maybe Petty and his hand were inspired by their stint last year as Bob Dylan’s touring band. Musically, the Heartbreakers haven’t sounded this frisky and focused since “Damn the Torpedoes,” their exceptional LP from 1979. They no longer are groping to add new sonic textures, as they did on “Southern Accents” in ’85, or mining the same predictable Byrds-meet-Southern rock sound that established this as album-rock radio staples a decade ago.
“Let Me Up” features the kind of stinging, blowzy rock ‘n’ blues heard on the Rolling Stones’ 1971 classic “Exile on Main Street” yet it sounds as contemporary as Dire Straits. Throw in some evocative, Dylan-inspired lyrics and Petty’s record doesn’t let up.
The Florida-bred, Los Angeles-based singer-guitarist starts with “Jammin’ Me,” an angry guitar-driven rocker that rejects everything from acid rain and Iranian torture to Eddie Murphy and Apple computers. (Dylan was a co-writer of this number.) The song echoes the Stones as do the closing numbers, the longing, sassy-sounding “How Many More Days” and the intentionally sloppy sounding “Let Me Up (I’ve Had Enough).”
Petty can play tenderly as well as tough, as he demonstrates on “It’ll All Work Out,” a striking ballad of resolve framed by mandolins. But mostly Petty and the Heartbreakers rock out, whether he’s singing about love fulfilled or unrequited or the angry state of things.