The Reflector — October 30, 2002

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CD Review: Tom Petty: He may not be ‘The Last DJ,’ but he’s still a good one
By Brian Robbins
The Reflector — October 30, 2002

Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers have been pumping out hits for almost three decades. Their latest album, “The Last DJ,” is sure to add a few more to the list.

A concept album, “The Last DJ” is somewhat of a departure for Petty and the band. Strong guitar riffs are emphasized less than in their trademark works, as a softer, somewhat Beatlesque sound takes center stage on most tracks. Piano, strings and even an orchestra are used. And of course, Petty himself continues to do his best Bob Dylan impression on vocals.

The lead track, from which the album takes its name, is my favorite. It is provocative because few popular artists have tackled the lack of variety that exemplifies mainstream radio today. Petty mumbles on, as only he can, about the total commercialization of the airwaves.

Gee, how much do you want to bet this one never gets played on local pop stations. Oh well, I’d rather listen to a station that promotes artistic creativity.

The album continues from there, with tracks such as “Money Becomes King” painting a bleak picture. The irony of the Heartbreakers doing this without emplying their trademark sound is not lost on me. The only track that really rocks hard is “When A Kid Goes Bad.”

Artists like Tom Petty have been not-so-gradually losing popularity since the onset of grunge in the early 90s. The fall doesn’t appear to be stopping anytime soon. However, its failing popularity hasn’t hurt Petty and the Heartbreakers’ work ethic.

Every track on “The Last DJ” shows an obvious love of their craft that still shines today. The album hearkens back to the 60s but never seems like a tired retread. Its message rings clear, and is one that more people would do well to listen to.

There’s nothing wrong with synergy and cooperation, but with the constant cloning of today’s music, we’re going to end up with everyone writing the same mediocre song.

I really enjoyed “The Last DJ,” It’s a throwback of sorts, but if you’re a fan of good music that actually has something to say, then check this out. You won’t regret it.

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