George Starostin's Reviews



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Bob Josef <> (12.08.2004)

I really detest the monotonous, annoying "Breakdown", which is one reason that it took me a while to get into Petty. But the exuberant "American Girl" might have changed my mind if I had known who it was at the time! The album's highglight. "Strangered in the Night" is the first of may Petty songs that has an interesting narrative line. "Luna", I agree, is haunting, and "Hometown Blues" (the only survivor from Mudcrutch, Petty's proto-Heartbreakers band) is fun country rock. And the rest is solid, basic rock. Only other problem: a half-hour album is way too short for a CD.


Glenn Wiener <> (16.03.2003)

You are on the money on this one. 'I Need To Know' is the stand out on this puppy. So much catchier than the rest. 'Listen To Your Heart' is actually OK and the title track and a few others are semi-memorable. The general impression is that it all sounds the same after a while with minimally effective hooks. I rounded my rating on amazon to 3 stars(was feeling kind) but your 2 1/2 seems more accurate.

Bob Josef <> (12.08.2004)

Everyone seems to rate this one lower than the first album -- it's too polished, too distant, whatever. I don't buy any of that. For starters, there's nothing as annoying as "Breakdown" here. Second, it's more diverse. Of course, you do have your basic Petty rockers '' I Need to Know", title track, "Too Much Ain't Enough". But there's more interesting stuff - the ambient sound effects on "Baby's A Rock n' Roller"; the cool, acoustic, swampy groove of "No Second Thoughts"; the drifting synth (mellotron?) of "Rockin' Around.."  And I don't see how you could not get sucked in by the hook of "Listen to Her Heart" --another joyous performance. That one, "I Need to Know" and "Restless" actually got quite a bit of airplay, before I knew who the group was. If I did, this album would have been the one to convert me, not the first.

Another half-hour album that's too short for a CD. Petty now owns the masters for the first two albums, and he should combine them onto one remastered CD, along with the best outtakes from and that predate the sessions. Why not?


Glenn Wiener <> (26.02.2002)

A good but not spectacular record. Some catchy singles and good album oriented tracks but nothing that is really groundbreaking. The piano on 'What Are You Doin' In My Life' really cooks. 'Louisiana Rain' steps out of Petty's usual style a little with the guitar effects. Some good energy exists which overshadows the ordinary instrumental and vocal talents of the band.

Bob Josef <> (17.08.2004)

Petty's best single album, probably, although several others (Southern Accents, Full Moon Fever, Wildflowers) might give it a run for its money. This is where, I think, your contention that all of Petty's albums sound the same falls down. You do have the same instrumental template as the first two albums, but Jimmy Iovine gives the band a bigger, more spacious sound. The keyboards, and even more so, the drums, are brought more upfront in the mix, giving the group a lot more power. I find it a bit ironic that you find "Don't Do Me Like That" a "modernistic" song, since it was first recorded (as well as "Louisiana Rain") during sessions that predate the first album. I found it really annoying and repetitive on the radio, and it took me hearing the rest of the album to get into Petty. Although if "Here Comes My Girl" had been the next track I heard, I definitely would have changed my mind. I really can't stand those spoken/slurred verses and the cliched "working man" lyrics. But the other songs are very powerful and emotionally resonant. Especially "Refugee," and anthem that certainly sucks me in.

Two B-sides from the sessions eventually ended up on the boxed set. "It's Raining Again," on the flip of "Don't Do Me.", is a bizarre steel guitar blues that doesn't even last two minutes. Even stranger lyrically, if more conventional musically is the flip of "Refugee," called "Casa Dega." Petty visits a fortune teller, apparently. There's certainly room for these as bonus tracks, although they don't sound much like the album.


Bob Josef <> (18.08.2004)

The same big, but, basic sound as the last album, but the overall mood is darker and moodier, as opposed to the anger and defiance that shows up periodically in Torpedoes. "King's Road" and "A Thing About You" are big extroverted rockers, but they're the exception to the rule. Moody breakup songs like "A Woman In Love," "Letting You Go," "Insider" and "You Can Still Change Your Mind" are much more dominant, whether at a fast tempo or slow. Even the hit "The Waiting" has its share of lyrical angst. I agree about the interesting Dylanesque story lines in "Something Big," "The Criminal Kind" and, also, "Nightwatchman." This type of character study was missing last time around. I do think that you underrate "You Can Still Change Your Mind" a bit. Mike Campbell was trying to come up with something like "Caroline, No," and its a good attempt.

Everything here is catchy, hook-filled and memorable. Even if it doesn't hit the highs of the third album ("Refugee," "Louisiana Rain," "Even the Losers"), it doesn't hit the lows ("Don't Do Me Like That," and nothing as dumb as "Here Comes My Girl," fortunately), either. The logical next stop for new fans.

No, Nicks did not co-write "Insider." But he did originally intend to give it to her for Bella Donna, but asked for it back and gave her "Stop Dragging my Heart Around" instead. It does sound like a Heartbreakers song with Stevie's voice, rather than a Nicks song. It's certainly not quite at the level of the songs on this album, although the pre-Nicks demo (on the boxed set) indicates that it could have fit in with Tom singing it alone. "The Best of Everything" was also first recorded during these sessions, although Petty decided that there were too many moody songs included already.


Bob Josef <> (27.08.2004)

And so, we begin a cycle where Tom follows up a really good studio album with one that is just kind of OK. I mean, it's certainly listenable, mostly. Good playing, catchy hooks, decent lyrics, all as usual. But the sound seems, well, a bit generic. Jimmy Iovine ditches the big, expansive sound of the previous two records for something more compressed, so the band sounds more ordinary. "A Wasted Life" has a very interesting, drifting synth (or, again, a mellotron), but that's it for something new in the arrangements. Oh, and "You've Got Lucky," but I don't count that, because it's terrible. A klutzy, tacky attempt at 80's synth pop that is suprisingly incompetent. Yuck. At the other extreme is "Deliver Me," which I think is the best song on the album. A great rock song with love lyrics that are sung very powerfully and passionately. I think it really stands out among the rest of these songs. So, I don't really agree with your identical rating with the previous two.

The B-side of "Change of Heart" (on the boxed set now) is a hilarious throwaway called "Heartbreakers' Beach Party." Certainly, the mood is about a billion times happier than on the album.


Bob Josef <> (27.08.2004)

Agreed, an excellent album, despite what everyone else says. And it is in spite of the circumstances -- Petty had a lot of trouble making it. Actually, Dave Stewart only produced three tracks -- Jimmy Iovine, Robbie Robertson and Mike Campbell are also thrown into the production mix, resulting in a lot of disparity. It certainly is the least consistent sounding Petty album from beginning to end.

But while that sounds like a recipe for disaster, the diversity turns out to be a big advantage. The album was supposed to be a concept album of sorts. But, despite Petty's assertion, I don't think "Don't Come Around Here" fits in with that. But it's a very cool song, I agree. The other two Stewart collaborations, though, do belong. "Make It Better" and "It Ain't Nothing to Me" suggest a southern accent of the Muscle Shoals kind, with that big horn section. I used to think that the tail end of the album was a bit of a drag, but relistening to "Spike" made me realize that Petty was, indeed, taking on the persona of an ignorant redneck. He certainly doesn't take on the jingoistic self-glorification of the South like Skynyrd does.  "Mary's New Car" is kind of fun, and Robertson builds "The Best of Everything" up into something a little more substantial than it would have been on Hard Promises with all those overdubs, although it's the album's weakest track. On the other hand, here's another instance where what you consider to be a filler track is what I consider to be the best song -- "Dogs on the Run." Another powerful, passionate rocker. Totally convincing, Petty does far better than Springsteen did with a 100 songs with the same theme. One of Petty's best obscure tracks.

In any case, while it's the most atypical of Petty albums, it's definitely in the upper tier. 

A couple of B-sides showed up from the sessions. "Trailer," on the flip of "Don't Come Around Here," is a song that people think is fantastic. I find it quite ordinary, a country-rocker about a guy in a mobile home. Definitely didn't deserve a place on the album. On the other side if "Make it Better" is a cover of Nick Lowe's "Cracking Up," on the other hand, which is a lot more fun. Besides these two, the boxed set has the first version of "The Apartment Song," which was demoed with Stevie Nicks during these sessions.

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