Petty albums lands punches
By Scott Iwasaki
The Deseret News — Friday, November 1, 2002
Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers | The Last DJ | Warner Bros. | ★★★
Tom Petty has a lot of nerve. And his new album is sure to raise some tailfeathers.
With “The Last DJ,” Petty and his band the Heartbreakers — featuring guitarist Mike Campbell, keyboardist Benmont Tench and drummer Steve Ferrone — doesn’t just take swipes at the big corporate record companies. They reach back and punch them right in the guts.
And that’s a giant step for classic rock; when was the last time anyone heard a recent Petty song or a recent Eagles song on the radio?
The album’s title track praises those DJs who fight against mediocre playlists of bands who just happen to be the flavor of the day. And the next track, “Money Becomes King,” kicks the shins of classic rockers for setting up priority “Golden Circle” seating.
Then there’s “Joe.” He’s a CEO who gets rich from exploiting young pop stars and dead classic rockers. In those three songs, Petty, in true rebel form, has shown he doesn’t appreciate the state of the music business. And he doesn’t give a (Gibson) Flying V who takes offense.
Still, the album isn’t all about ranting and ravings. Band leader Petty, who is also a full-time father, reveals a sensitive side in “Lost Children,” a little song about missing and kidnapped children.
The social commentary emerges again in “When a Kid Goes Bad,” which explores why so many youngsters are hating and killing each other. And “Man Who Loves Women” tackles the issue of extramarital affairs.
While the album could seem like it was written after watching daytime talk shows, Petty and the band have found a way to present things in the right temperament. The musical mix catches the ear and gives each song meaning.
And by the time the last song, “I Can’t Stop the Sun,” comes on, the listener is treated with a dose of empowerment as Petty declares that music business honchos (and the sad state of the nation) will not conquer his spirit.
A good album that has been released a the right time. Maybe someone will take notice.