Now I’m a big Tom Petty fan. Seen him many times, read the book, saw the movie, etc. In fact, TP is one of those artists, like the Stones, that can transport me back in time with just a song. When he’s “on”, he captures something pure, something real, better than almost anyone around. That’s why Dylan, Harrison et al worked with him. And he’s remarkably consistent. Petty has put out some phenomenal records- Damn the Torpedoes and Wildflowers, to name two- but even at his worst, he hasn’t put out a real stinker yet. Consistent.
That being said, 2 by his first band Mudcrutch, is pretty much an exercise in tedium. The first Mudcrutch album was fun, nothing cerebral, but it was a good time, and so’s the latest – just less so. Petty wrote the bulk of the record, and they all conform to his established pattern. Mid-tempo exercises, Tom’s right on the edge of annoying vocals, and a great guitar solo by his partner in crime Mike Campbell. Take the first cut, “Trailer”. It’s about a mobile home, and people who dance to Lynyrd Skynyrd. Now, that might have been Tom Petty at age 18, but it sure as hell isn’t believable coming from him now. As the record plays, you start to wonder if these songs were rejects from other projects (other than the ones penned by Tom Leadon). “Hope”, “Dreams of Flying” and “Hungry No More” could have been on a dozen Heartbreaker’s records, somewhat indistinguishable one from another.
However, if you were to pass this record by, you’ll miss “I Forgive It All”, one of those Petty creations that cuts you to the bone- think “You Don’t Know How It Feels” or “Southern Accents”. Pretty much just Tom and an acoustic guitar, the sparse, unaffected tune is Petty at his best, and assures you that you’ll give his next project a spin. But you know what he says about the waiting.