The Petty Archives

Tom Petty | Full Moon Fever | MCA Records
By John Shamlou
The Daily Aztec - May 22, 1989

Petty's latest LP, Full Moon Fever, made sans Heartbreakers, while not quite as intentive and feisty as '87's Let Me Up (I've Had Enough), is still another engaging winner. Full Moon Fever boasts infectous rockers, effective slower moments and Petty's ever-present lyrical twists.

The album starts off with "Free Fallin'," a lost-love trip through Los Angeles, where the narrator tries to convince us and himself he's better off without his ex-girlfriend. It shows the other side of Petty's sometimes-flip attitude. When he tries, Petty can write ballads as well as anyone, as evidenced by "Alright for Now," a gentle lullaby that loses producer Jeff Lynne's electronic excesses. (In the past seven months, Lynne has produced records for Randy Newman, the Traveling Wilburys, Roy Orbison and Petty, not to mention George Harrison's comeback earlier. Will someone please get ELO back together?)

The album's heart, though, is in the up-tempo, a place for some of the most spontaneous and humorous spots Petty -- or anyone else for that matter -- has come up with in a while. Best of the lot is "Running Down a Dream," where Petty's restrained vocals provides a contrast to the storm the band brews up in the background. Vocally, Petty perfectly conjures up images of a fast, dreamy ride in the country, while guest Heartbreaker Mike Campbell unleashes a torrid guitar solo, shifting the tune into high gear.

Elsewhere, Petty's own wit shines. "Yer So Bad" starts off with My sister got lucky/Married a yuppie, and Petty continues the song in his best neo-Dylan drawl. The middle verse of "A Mind With A Heart Of Its Own" reads I've been to your house/And you've been over sometimes to my house/I've slept in your treehouse/My middle name is Earl. The main thrill, though, is the track's hyperactive, countryish and quite irresistible drive.

An irreverent, mostly fast-paced and funny album, Full Moon Fever will easily be one of the delights of the upcoming summer, and confirms Petty as a talented artist -- but still one who doesn't take life too seriously.