The trippy MOJO logo sets the stage for this mosey down South on an old country and blues road record. And Tom and the boys didn’t even have to leave the comfort of their rehearsal hang space they call “the clubhouse.” In fact, they liked the vibe there so much, they kept trucking in guitars and mics and boards until they stocked the studio around them.
Tom Petty takes his Heartbreakers down a winding trail most recently visited with Mudcrutch, his earliest band, resurrected for a project several years back. It’s a loose feel with a definite aim of “getting more and more purity into the music” AND pushing guitarist Mike Campbell up to the front. Much is being made about Campbell’s playing on this record and with good reason. An underrated yet stellar player, Mike had just gotten a new guitar. I suspect it was the 1969 Les Paul Sunburst which is used on every one but two of the 15 songs. Each one of those songs was recorded in a day (documented specifically in the liner notes) during a half year period. And for the most part, everything was done live. No headphones. Minimal overdubs.
Musical footnotes abound. Lots of Allman Joy with those twin guitars! those soulful keyboards! those jams! (Tom has been morphing physcially into Gregg Alman recently anyway with those mutton chops, which have thankfully now been sheared). I hear Hendrix. Cream and Cale (JJ). Booker T and Robert Cray. There’s lots of southern jamming. And speaking of jammin’, there’s even a reggae song to match Mike Campbell’s dreads. Don’t be listening for the chiming soaring “Wildflowers” hooks and harmonies. That’s not what this is. This album IS a couple of songs too long and it’s not like they’re bad songs or anything, just not necessary.
Tom said he’s just trying to make some good music that he likes and that this is more like a polaroid than a painting. And for a good snapshot of where T and his HB’s are right now, check out the album cover bi-fold photo. It pictures the band all proud in their “clubhouse” with a mind blowing array of guitars and amps (all acknowledged and detailed song by song in the liner notes) with the cozy rugs they bring with them on tour. Totally at home.
Tom Petty – Vocals, Guitar
Mike Campbell – Guitar
Benmont Tench – Keyboards
Ron Blair – Bass
Scott Thurston – Harmonica, Guitar
Steve Ferrone – Drums