Petty featuring material from new album at State Fair
The Valley News — Monday, July 31, 1989
“The strangest thing about the album is that it wasn’t planned at all. It sort of happened by accident.”
For an album that, in the words of Tom Petty, happened by accident, Full Moon Fever is a truly special work from an artist who has already recorded and written some of the most compelling and soul-stirring music in rock history. After only 12 weeks, the album has risen to number three of the Billboard charts.
As his first album without the Heartbreakers — whom he remains very much a part of, despite any rumors to the contrary — Full Moon Fever stands apart from Petty’s previous works.
Set against layers of distinctive and moving guitar textures, Petty’s lyrics, melodies and vocals have an immediate, fresh intimacy. The 12 songs themselves are by turns tough (“I Won’t Back Down”), urgent (“Free Fallin’,” “Runnin’ Down a Dream”), mysterious (“A Face In The Crowd”) and witty (“Zombie Zoo”), as Petty creates his reliably less-than-innocent characters and unfolds his stories and ironies about “a world come mad,” to quote another song, “Yer So Bad.”
Full Moon Fever was recorded mostly in early 1988 before some interesting musical relationships would mysteriously cross and, of course, result in the Traveling Wilburys, teaming Petty and Jeff Lynne with George Harrison, Bob Dylan and Roy Orbison for an album that would earn great critical acclaim and sell over 4 million worldwide — including more than 2 million in the U.S. alone.
Because of Petty’s Wilburys commitments, work on Full Moon Fever temporarily came to a halt, and Petty returned to the studio in late 1988 and early this year to finish the album. The wait was worth it.
Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers bring their current tour to the New York State Fair grandstand Saturday, Aug. 26 in an 8 p.m. concert. Appearing with Petty will be the Replacements. Tickets are available at the Fair Ticket Office (Monday to Friday 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.), all Ticketrons or by calling Teletron at 1-800-382-8080.
On Full Moon Fever, Petty co-wrote many of the songs with Lynne, giving Petty a fresh new context to work within. The core band on the album is comprised of Petty (guitars), Mike Campbell (guitars, bass), Lynne (guitars, bass), and drummer Phil Jones, who has toured with Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers as a percussionist.
Singing background vocals on “I Won’t Back Down” and “Love Is A Long Road” is Heartbreaker Howie Epstein, while the band’s Benmont Tench plays piano on “The Apartment Song.” Making special guest appearances on the album are George Harrison, who plays guitar and sings backing vocals on “I Won’t Back Down,” and the late Roy Orbison, who joined on vocals for “Zombie Zoo.” (Petty co-wrote Orbison’s hit single, “You Got It.”)
Full Moon Fever is the latest chapter in a body of work that stands alone in rock & roll. From Tom Petty and the Heartbreaker’s self-titled 1976 debut album, which railed against the musical doldrums of the ’70s and signaled an exciting new era of rock & roll, to the three-million selling Damn the Torpedoes LP, to their critically acclaimed eighth album, 1987’s “Let Me Up (I’ve Had Enough),” this is a group which has always cared about rock & roll: they’re concerned with where it’s been, where it’s at now, and where it’s going, said a spokesperson.