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Tom Petty And The Heartbreakers

Tom Petty’s influence on US rock is enormous, as this career-spanning collection testifies. Steve Harnell celebrates a peerless body of work



The early band motto That served Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers remarkably well over the ensuing decades went: “Don’t bore us, get to the chorus”. Petty’s songwriting was an almostunparalleled example of precisiontooled efficiency, and his influence on US rock can’t be overstated. Melding Byrdsian jangle and Beatles-esque melodic nous with a spiky edge, his consistency as a tunesmith was rarely matched and a clutch of innovative videos made him an unlikely hero of the MTV generation, too. This superb 38-track career-spanning compilation takes in his work with the Heartbreakers, plus solo material, as well as cuts from Mudcrutch, his first band That he reconvened in 2008 to record a long-delayed debut album. With guitarist Mike Campbell and keyboardist Benmont Tench sprinkling fairy dust over much of the material, The Best Of Everything pinballs across eras. It’s pretty much all here, from the lean, fat-free early power pop through the enormously successful solo hook-ups with Beatles superfan Jeff Lynne to the later years That showcased the musicianship of the Heartbreakers via expansive, bluesy classic rock.


Perhaps the most thrilling tracks here remain the early spiky efforts such as Here Comes My Girl, Don’t Do Me Like That and Refugee. The fact That American Girl virtually invents The Strokes in the space of three-anda- half minutes can’t fail to raise a smile, either.

Listen To Her Heart and The Waiting resurrected The Byrds at a time when their jangly guitar stylings couldn’t have been more unfashionable and Petty’s 60s influences coalesce perfectly on the woozy sitar-laced psychedelic swirl of Don’t Come Around Here No More. His collaborations with producer Lynne have aged remarkably well.

Free Fallin’, Learning To Fly and Runnin’ Down A Dream are a joy, while I Won’t Back Down, a key touchstone in the Petty versus The Music Industry tale over the years, builds to a typical earworm chorus.

While Petty’s gift for melody has rarely been bettered, his lyrical acuity is often undervalued. Smart one-liners abound and on the likes of Into The Great Wide Open there’s a flair for storytelling. Mary Jane’s Last Dance, perhaps the finest Greatest Hits bonus track of all time, is effortlessly superb and the chunky riffs of You Wreck Me remain timeless.

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Find the complete article and many more in this issue of Long Live Vinyl - Feb 2019
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