Petty album weighs lightly
By Cary Darling
Youngstown Vindicator — May 11, 1989
“Full Moon Fever” (MCA) is Tom Petty’s first solo foray away from his Heartbreakers and his first release (not including the Traveling Wilburys “supergroup”) in two years, but Petty is hardly in a serious, reflective mood. “Full Moon Fever” is a lighthearted, often humorous effort with about as much weight as a mild ocean breeze.
The presence of Fellow Wilbury-ex-ELO main man-ultra-pop-craftsman Jeff Lynne as co-producer and multi-instrumentalist is a tip-off that this isn’t going to be Lou Reed’s “New York.” But, thankfully Lynne doesn’t smother Petty with his trademark sugar-coated style. From first note to last, “Full Moon Fever” is very much a Petty record. Such guitar-heavy rockers as “Love is a Long Road” and “Runnin’ Down a Dream” are proof of that.
But Petty hasn’t broken totally with the Heartbreakers here. Scattered throughout the tracks are guitarist-keyboardist Mike Campbell who co-produced, keyboardist Benmont Tench, bassist Howie Epstein, and drummer Phil Jones (who toured with the Heartbreakers as a percussionist).
Then there are the superstar friends: George Harrison on the single “I Won’t Back Down” and Roy Orbison sharing background vocals on “Zombie Zoo.”