Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers
By Thom Duffy
Orlando Sentinel — April 26, 1987
★★★ Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, Let Me Up (I’ve Had Enough) (MCA): They made an eloquent statement of their Dixie roots on Southern Accents. They summed up their musical story to date with a live collection of greatest hits and favorite covers, Pack Up the Plantation. Now, doing what they do best, Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers have gone back to the garage.
The Heartbreakers have returned to uncalculated basics on Let Me Up (I’ve Had Enough). They are playing rock ‘n’ roll uncomplicated by grand ideas yet inspired by classic instincts and arrangements. The Heartbreakers recorded Let Me Up without the help of outside horn sections or keyboardists featured on Southern Accents. But with piano and organ rollicking above thrashing, bright guitars, the band’s sound at moments recalls — on a song such as “Think About Me” — the brilliant style of Bob Dylan’s Highway 61 Revisited.
Dylan, of course, has been touring with Petty and the Heartbreakers through the past year and is expected to rejoin the band for concerts this summer. He collaborated with Petty and guitarist Mike Campbell on “Jammin’ Me,” the track that kicks off Let Me Up. Credit Dylan’s influence for word- association lyrics that put references to Iranian torture and front-wheel drive in the same verse.
More often, Petty turns to the perennial rock theme of romance that he’s tapped so often in the past. Yet his attitude here is more frequently sad or sardonic. Moody synthesizers signal the fatalism of “Runaway Train.” Lovely dulcimers lace the bluegrass-style ballad “It’ll All Work Out” — on which the singer’s tone suggests the title is anything but the truth. His voice drops into a scornful drawl on “The Damage You’ve Done” and “Ain’t Love Strange?”
At the same time, there is more wry humor on this album than previous Heartbreaker LPs. Confronting a world in disarray on “My Life/Your World,” Petty sings of watching Wheel of Fortune and laments that his younger brother’s generation never even got tagged with a convenient label. The joyously jaunty “All Mixed Up” opens with a bit of frat-rock harmonizing and “good old boy” goofiness.
And Petty’s old-fashioned rock ‘n’ roll romanticism wins out in the end on “How Many More Days?” As the singer breaks down and pleads — “little darling/ please be truthful/ please be faithful/ please come to me now” — the bouyant piano and winding guitars promise romantic redemption.
Let Me Up (I’ve Had Enough) closes with the title track, a cry for refuge that finds the Heartbreakers playing at their furious best.
If this album does not rival the conceptual reach of Southern Accents or the pure passion of the Damn the Torpedoes LP, it still provides plenty of proof that Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers are the finest rock ‘n’ roll band to hail from the state of Florida.