The Petty Archives

In The Groove: Tom Petty hits the right chord
By Roy Lyn Dennis
The War Whoop - April 26, 1985

Tom Petty's new album, "Southern Accents," does for the South as "Born In The U.S.A." did for the depressed Midwest.

Like Springsteen's last album, Petty characters are hard-pressed and down-trodden trying to pick themselves up with materialism and self-denial, only to find they are back where they started from.

"Rebels" deals with Southern pride, not only dealing with the South's backwardness, but criticizing the North for the South that grew out of the Civil War. One can feel the resentment that the Southerner feels in these lyrics, "I can still feel the eyes of those blue-bellied devils/when I'm walkin' around at night/through the concrete and metal."

"Southern Accents" is a rebel's view of what he thinks the rest of the country thinks about him.

"Spike" deals with acceptance of things foreign. Rednecks encounter a punker and start to harass him. They start calling him Spike because of the spiked collar that he wears around his neck. The punker tells them about life and they come to accept him and come to talk about becoming like him. The song is trying to suggest that the South accept things that are foreign.

"Mary's New Car" smirks at materialism and class consciousness.

Some of the most interesting tracks are those that Dave Stewart of the Eurythmics co-produced. "It Ain't Nothin' To Me" is a very nice dance tune, and "Don't Come Around Here No More" is a fascinating example of what can happen when two totally different styles clash. As good as the song is, it ranks in the middle of the album as far as quality goes.

No album, however, is perfect. "Make It Better (Forget About Me)" is another Dave Stewart collaboration and it's only real fault is overproduction.

"Southern Accents" is probably the best album of 1985.