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Music Review: Petty takes shots at music industry?
By Tony Cairns
The Duquesne Duke — October 24, 2002
Recently being inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers have not changed their sounds since they released their first album in 1976. With a 26-year history, Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers have received 12 gold and platinum records. Songwriting might be difficult for some artists, but for Tom Petty it seems to come naturally.
On his latest album, “The Last DJ,” Petty expanded his classic rock sound to a new level. While taking shots at the music industry, Petty also expresses his views of society. The album is what Petty calls, “a little story.” You need to hear the whole thing to really understand it. The album shows similarities to Neil Young, with its aggressive lyrics backed with strong instrumental power. The title track on the album reveals Petty’s view of the radio industry and how money is controlling music. The same idea is relevant in the song, “Money Becomes King,” where Petty conveys his feelings about outrageous ticket prices and marketing in the music industry.
While some songs make Petty seem like an angered rock star, such tracks like “Have Love Will Travel,” show that Petty’s music still has a soft side. This can be heard in such lyrics as “If perhaps if I lose you in the smoke down the road, I want you to know you were the one.” Perhaps these lyrics are dedicated to his wife, Dana York, to whom he recently married in June 2001. Petty’s hard rock sound returns on the track “When A Kid Goes Bad,” which contains lyrics about corrupt adolescents in today’s society.
The album welcomes back, on two tracks, former bass player Ron Blair, who left the Heartbreakers after the “Hard Promises” album. Blair replaced his replacement, Howie Epstein, on the current tour after difficulties with the band. The album also features backing vocals from Fleetwood Mac’s guitarist, Lindsey Buckingham, on the song “The Man Who Loves Women.”
“The Last DJ” offers Heartbreaker fans their classic sound with a new beat.
Petty and the Heartbreakers dedicated the album, “to everyone who loves music just a little bit more tha money.” Even though Petty may be over 50 years old, he continues to rock the stage and won’t back down.