The Morning Call — October 19, 2002

Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers | The Last DJ | (Warner Bros)
By Len Righi
The Morning Call — October 19, 2002

Rock I do not for an instant doubt that Tom Petty sincerely believes the tales he spins on “The Last DJ.” I am also certain that Tom Petty is full of beans. Why? Because his condemnations of the Big Bad Music Business are not acts of bravery, just imbecility, and based on faulty assumptions. Was there ever a time when everything wasn’t up for sale? Not really; but there always have been people who have resisted selling out, even in the most corrupt corporate suites. Instead of practicing individuality, Petty preaches humorlessly, petulantly and not very originally on the title track (think of The Clash’s “London Calling” as performed by The Byrds); “Joe,” a cannonade blast at cynical CEOs that even “Soap Opera”-era Ray Davies would consider too obvious and scattershot, and the whiny “When Money Becomes King,” which nicks “Ode to Billie Joe.” Not all 12 tracks are about the biz; but even those that aren’t are crappy. The lowest point: the anti-gun themed “When a Kid Goes Bad” (imagine the Stones’ “When the Whip Comes Down” played at quarter-speed by Crazy Horse). The most shameless ripoff: “Have Love Will Travel,” a simulation of Derek and the Dominos doing “Little Wing.” The funniest moment: “The Man Who Loves Women,” which recalls simultaneously the faux vaudeville of “Winchester Cathedral,” Peter and Gordon, Leon Redbone and XTC. Now there’s a mix any DJ would be proud of.

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