Album #349 – Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers

Album #349

Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers are one of the best rock and roll bands to come out of the late 1970’s. It was not until their 1979 album, Damn The Torpedoes (which is also on the list), that they made a huge impact in their homeland: America. But, their self-titled debut made an impact in the UK shortly after it’s release in 1976. Of course, this album contains two of their most notable hits, Breakdown and American Girl. When listening to the other tracks, I immediately noticed that the sound was more raw. You could tell they were still experimenting with their trademark sound. Benmont Tench wasn’t using his distinct Hammond Organ sound quite yet. Mike Campbell’s guitar playing was at times low key. But, you can definitely see where they were going. This album was produced by Denny Cordell, a producer famous for his work on Procol Harum’s Whiter Shade of Pale, Joe Cocker’s With A Little Help From My Friends and with Leon Russell and JJ Cale. This album was released on Russell’s Shelter Records so, it’s only natural that Cordell produced it. I think with a different producer, this album could have been much better. There is a reason why this album did not take off in North America. It was too unfocused and even though the hits were good, some of the songs have a surprising sound for Tom Petty. Luna is a good example. It is more space rock than Petty’s brand of roots rock. But, there are a few great album cuts on Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers. Rockin’ Around (With You) is an amazing album opener and toe tapper. Hometown Blues is also a foreshadowing of Petty’s future trademark sound. I also liked Fooled Again (Don’t Like It). It is one of Petty’s best ballads. I am glad Petty made an album like this early in his career. It took two albums for this band to hit their stride but, luckily with their debut, they were almost there. Overall, I give Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, 4 out of 5.

Next: The Modern Lovers self-titled debut album

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