The Red & Black — October 22, 2002

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CD Review: Heartbreakers’ latest sticks it to industry
Review by Renee Brock
The Red & Black — Tuesday, October 22, 2002

Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers | The Last DJ | Grade: A
While Tom Petty’s most recent CD, “The Last DJ,” is a bit of a tirade on the music industry, it still shows that he hasn’t forgotten how to rock and roll.

His lyrics addressing the corporate music industry, at times, can be a bit heavy-handed, but this veteran of rock speaks his side of the truth loud and clear in songs like “The Last DJ” and “Joe.”

In fact, he dedicates this album “to everyone that loves music just a little bit more than money.”

The song “Joe” perhaps best illustrates his point with narrative lyrics that describe how the corporate side of the music industry prey on a “good looking” face with talent in order to make money.

In part of the chorus of “Joe,” Petty sings, “My name’s Joe/I’m the CEO/…you get to be famous/and I get to be rich.”

Some of the stanzas on the song read a bit sarcastically as with “bring me a girl/they’re always the best/you put ’em on stage and you have ’em undress/some angel whore/who can learn a guitar lick/hey, that’s what I call music.”

Besides Petty’s criticism of the slick, polished product that has become the idea of music, he does diverge from his tirade and revert to lyrics that his fans have come to love such as the songs “When a Kid Goes Bad,” “Blue Sunday,” “The Man Who Loves Women,” and “Have Love Will Travel.”

On his latest tour, Petty has given blows to corporate sponsors and made a point to say “this concert was brought to you for you and by you.”

Like other artists, Petty also started that he “refused to fall into the Gap,” referring to many other artists whose songs have been featured in Gap commercials.

While this album is a far cry lyrically from past albums like “Wildflowers,” Petty still manages to impress with the music.

This time around, Petty includes heavier guitar sounds as in “Money Becomes King” and more polished sounds from an orchestra which he arranged himself.

I’ve been a Petty fan for years and while this isn’t an album I would have expected from him, let’s just say it’s a pleasant surprise.

Even though he’s probably really pissed the music industry off with this album, Petty still puts on an amazing show and is still producing great music.

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