Tom Petty and the pre-Heartbreak kids
By David Hinckley
New York Daily News — Friday, May 2, 2008
Talk about weird. Tom Petty recently decided to reunite his very first band, Mudcrutch, a group that broke up more than 30 years ago before it ever recorded an album.
It makes one wonder: Did the guys have something on him?
Mudcrutch’s long-delayed debut arrives this week and the first worry is that it might sound like just another Petty record with the Heartbreakers. Not only did Tom write most of the songs, after all, but the band includes two other guys who went on to become Heartbreakers (Benmont Tench and Mike Campbell). They’re rounded out by left-behind drummer Randall Marsh and guitarist Tom Leadon.
The good news is, Mudcrutch has a sound very much its own. It’s far more Flying Burrito Brothers than Heartbreakers, boasting a textbook late-’60s country-rock sound. The lilts of pedal steel guitars waft through most tracks and the band features covers of genre touchstones like “Six Days on the Road” and “Shady Grove.”
There’s a casual quality to the music that proves engaging. (The band recorded the disk live in 10 days.) While the result isn’t monumental, there’s a love and rapport among the players that makes this project sound less like a strange whim than a sweet reunion.