Sounds: Petty takes on music industry in mix of rockers, pop, ballads
Review by Rod Lockwood
Toledo Blade — Sunday, October 27, 2002
THE LAST DJ | Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers (Warner Brothers)
Tom Petty isn’t satisfied to just bite the hand that feeds on his latest disc, a scathing indictment of the record industry. He chomps the entire hand off and spits it out in disgust.
Petty’s attack on the record companies and radio conglomerates that promote mediocrity over creativity is a righteous cause. And the music is great, a typical Petty collection of snarling rockers, cockeyed pop, and balladry.
The disc starts with the title track, an acoustic-based song that introduces Petty’s protagonist, a disc jockey who refuses to conform to the powers that be. The DJ is a typical Petty character, a loner who remains an outside even as he comments on what’s going on around him.
The second cut, “Money Becomes King,” is a dark fairy tale in which a rocker named Johnny sells his street credibility to the music machine and is reduced to making beer commercials and lip-synching his songs in front of indifferent rich folks. And on “Joe,” a sneering rocker, Petty adopts the persona of a CEO who promotes pop stars.
But the entire album isn’t a bare-fisted assault and in typical Petty form, there’s also a nice mix of songs that celebrate love and the road, all backed by the tight Heartbreakers.
The production is impeccable, and by the time the disc ends with the defiant “Can’t Stop the Sun,” it’s clear that Petty is still at the top of his talents, with something important to say.