The Petty Archives

Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers | Playback | MCA
Review by Tim Stegall
CMJ New Music Monthly - January 1996

Although these guys should still be pistol-whipped for having claim-jumped a band name rightfully the property of Johnny Thunders, it's hard to deny their potency. Petty learned all the right lessons from the Dylan/Byrds/Stones mid-'60s -- the value of tough-but-tender songwriting and instrumental attack -- and brought them unblemished into the present, rendering those elements totally free of nostalgia. This six-disc anthological proof is interesting, in that its meat is not the first three discs' worth of Petty classics. A full half of it is unheard music, including demos from the larval stage of the Heartbreakers, Mudcrutch (interesting if only to hear how little their basic gameplan has changed, not to mention finding out how old "Don't Do Me Like That" is) and a disc's worth of B-side that prove how goofy these guys can get if they think no one's listening ("Heartbreakers Beach Party," anyone?). But the cool stuff is on Disc Six, a clutch of unreleased songs strong enough to be an LP itself, despite the inclusion of a pair of fun-but-disposable Elvis covers. Tracks like the Bo Diddling "I Got My Mind Made Up" or "Ways To Be Wicked" (a hit for Lone Justice) definitely beg questioning why they remained in the can 'til now. They also might be reason enough to purchase the whole box, outside of not having to wait around your radio to hear whatever your fave Petty hit might be.

DATALOG: Released Nov. 21
FILE UNDER: Classic rock that deserves the title.
Recommended If You Like: Er...Tom Petty?

Reviews:  TOM PETTY AND THE HEARTBREAKERS -- Playback 1973-1993 (MCA)
By Steve Marshall
Cosmic Debris - February 1996

This past November, MCA released a new 6CD box set from Tom Petty and The  Heartbreakers entitled "Playback". A veritable gold mine for Petty fans,  "Playback" contains a whopping 92 tracks - 42 of them previously unreleased.  The individual CDs (each with their own title) are packaged to look like mini-albums, complete with gatefold covers & protective inner sleeves. The CDs themselves look like reel-to-reel tapes.

The first three CDs chronicle Petty's career from 1976 though 1993's  "Greatest Hits" album. Disc one, "The Big Jangle", features material from  the band's self-titled debut through 1981's "Hard Promises" album. With  such songs as "Breakdown", "Refugee", "Here Comes My Girl" and "A Woman  in Love", "The Big Jangle" contains just about every early Heartbreakers  tune ever played on the radio. You can really hear The Byrds' influence  in Petty's music on this CD.

Disc two, "Spoiled & Mistreated", covers the years 1982 through 1987. Songs  like "You Got Lucky" and "Don't Come Around Here No More" find the band  treading on more experimental ground. The disc also includes Petty's cover  of The Byrds' "So You Want to Be a Rock & Roll Star", and the poignant  38-second instrumental Mike Campbell tune, "Mike's Life/Mike's World".

Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers | Playback | MCA
Review by James Hunter
SPIN - February 1996

Tom Petty's music assumes that you own several buckskin jackets and hold a Ph.D. in the Byrds. In spirit and execution, it's like people who obsess about old album photos, wondering which restaurants the subjects trekked off to after the shoot. Saved by an underlying fascination with youth culture that translates into a pretty consistently refreshed pop sense, Petty's pure rock is always there as an option, shining up your backyard when you're sick of trends and experiments.

Video Review: Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers: Playback
By Steve Simels
Entertainment Weekly #312 - February 2, 1996

Tom Petty is often underrated as a musician, perhaps because he has no larger agenda beyond making good records, but he's consistently overrated as a video innovator like with Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers: Playback. For this longtime Petty fan, that's the revelation gleaned from the 17 career-spanning clips here, from the 1979 pre-MTV "Refugee" to the 1993 "Mary Jane's Last Dance." Most of the songs visualized are, in fact, terrific, but not one of them is illuminated or enlarged in any significant way; in the end, you're left with nothing more than a bunch of celebrity cameos (Johnny Depp, Faye Dunaway, Kim Basinger) and the memory of Petty wearing dopey hats. C+

  • 1996-07-06_Billboard

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Don't Step On His Shoes
Billboard - July 6, 1996

Carl Perkins celebrates his induction into Hollywood, Calif.'s RockWalk in June. Tom Petty introduced Perkins at the ceremony, which was attended by Brian Setzer, producer Pete Anderson, and members of Dash Rip Rock. At the induction, Perkins was presented with the first prototype of a new Gibson Blueshawk guitar, and a donation was made to the Carl Perkins Child Abuse Center. Shown, from left, are Petty, Perkins, chairman of the RockWalk industry advisory committee Ray Scherr, and Setzer.

Editor's Note: I laughed a bit when they censored the song name.

  • 1996-07-11_RollingStone738

Random Notes
Rolling Stone #738 - July 11, 1996

Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers offered up a Beck cover (A-hole) and a slew of new songs from their She's the One soundtrack at an AmFAR benefit at the Beverly Hilton Hotel, in Los Angeles. "This is not a particularly good chance to try out the new stuff," said Petty. "We're doing it anyway -- it's such a good cause."


Billboard - July 27, 1996

TOM PETTY & THE HEARTBREAKERS: Walls (no timing listed) | PRODUCERS: Rick Rubin, Tom Petty, Mike Campbell | WRITER: T. Petty | PUBLISHER: Gone Gator, ASCAP | Warner Bros. 8285 (cassette single)

Petty and pals preview their soundtrack to "She's The One" with a midtempo rocker that is etched by the singer/songwriter's reliably sharp and clever lyrics. An instantly memorable chorus is splashed with fluid guitar licks, courtesy of Mike Campbell's ever-agile hand, and plush keyboards give the song an overall classic pop flavor. Certainly, it will make sense within the context of the movie or album, but there are two notably different recordings of "Walls" included here, which have slightly different lyrics and musical vibes. The Circus version is the more concise and aggressive of the two and will likely earn the lion's share of radio play.

Songs and Music from the Motion Picture She's The One (1996)
by J.D. Considine
Entertainment Weeekly #339 - August 9, 1996

Moms make their leftovers into casseroles, while record companies make theirs into soundtracks. But not every artist sees movies merely as a means to convert non-LP tracks into quick cash; some see soundtracks as a way to stretch out. So Eddie Vedder jams with Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan for Dead Man Walking, Eric Clapton embraces Babyface for Phenomenon, and Neil Young plays at being Sonic Youth on the Dead Man soundtrack.

Still, no one has had quite as much fun with the possibilities posed by movie music as Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers do with Songs and Music from the Motion Picture She's The One. Built around songs Petty composed for the Edward Burns film, it isn't a pure soundtrack release — 5 of its 15 tunes don't appear in the picture — so much as a way to provide a taste of the film's music while still delivering something that feels like a Tom Petty album. In other words, it lets Petty have his cake and eat it, too.

Reviews & Previews: Albums
Review by Paul Verna
Billboard - August 10, 1996

Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers | Songs And Music From The Motion Picture She's The One | Producers: Rick Rubin, Tom Petty, Mike Campbell | Warner Bros. 46285
Although this album is technically a soundtrack, it is actually a new Petty & the Heartbreakers release, their first since "Into the Great Wide Open" in 1991. A showcase for both Petty's increasingly brilliant songwriting and the band's understated but sophisticated playing, this album easily qualifies as one of the year's best rock records. From the hit single "Walls" (rendered in two versions) to witty, cynical compositions like "Zero from Outer Space" and "California," the album seizes the listener's attention and never lets up. Also includes noteworthy covers of Lucinda Williams' "Change The Locks" and Beck's "Asshole," plus lovely film-music instrumentals "Hope On Board" and "Airport." A lucid work.