The Petty Archives

Music Review: 'Hard Promises' a major success
By Allan K. Lilley
Williamsport Area Community College Spotlight - Tuesday, September 8, 1981

Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers rose from the ranks of cult adulation to rock superstardom in 1979 with their third album "Damn the Torpedos."

On the latest release, "Hard Promises," Petty shows why he is a major success.

From straight-ahead rockers like "The Criminal Kind," "Nightwatchman" and "Kings Road," to the emotion-filled "You Can Still Change Your Mind" and "Insider" (a ballad with Stevie Nicks of Fleetwood Mac), Petty again steals the show with his virtuoso vocal arrangements.

Most painful
Two songs emerge from "Hard Promises" as classic examples of America rock and roll. "Letting You Go" and "A Thing About You" are superb good timing songs. "A Woman In Love," however, is a solemn anthem of love desired but not fulfilled. This is the most painful song Petty's ever done.

One major difference between "Hard Promises" and other Heartbreakers' records is that Petty has developed into an important song writer. Penetrating and even intense could describe the level on which the songs are written.

Still the trademark
"Hard Promises" reaches rock potential due largely to guitarist Mike Campbell (especially on Nightwatchman) and keyboardist Benmont Tench. Tom Petty's voice is still the Heartbreakers' trademark.

Achieving fame took quite a few years for the Heartbreakers, but if they continue to release excellent albums like "Hard Promises," they are certain to remain important figures on the rock scene.