The Petty Archives

Petty album weighs lightly
By Cary Darling
Youngstown Vindicator - May 11, 1989

"Full Moon Fever" (MCA) is Tom Petty's first solo foray away from his Heartbreakers and his first release (not including the Traveling Wilburys "supergroup") in two years, but Petty is hardly in a serious, reflective mood. "Full Moon Fever" is a lighthearted, often humorous effort with about as much weight as a mild ocean breeze.

The presence of Fellow Wilbury-ex-ELO main man-ultra-pop-craftsman Jeff Lynne as co-producer and multi-instrumentalist is a tip-off that this isn't going to be Lou Reed's "New York." But, thankfully Lynne doesn't smother Petty with his trademark sugar-coated style. From first note to last, "Full Moon Fever" is very much a Petty record. Such guitar-heavy rockers as "Love is a Long Road" and "Runnin' Down a Dream" are proof of that.

But Petty hasn't broken totally with the Heartbreakers here. Scattered throughout the tracks are guitarist-keyboardist Mike Campbell who co-produced, keyboardist Benmont Tench, bassist Howie Epstein, and drummer Phil Jones (who toured with the Heartbreakers as a percussionist).

Then there are the superstar friends: George Harrison on the single "I Won't Back Down" and Roy Orbison sharing background vocals on "Zombie Zoo."

Petty has hit without Heartbreakers
By J.D. Considine
Eugene Register-Guard - Friday, May 12, 1989

How much does a solo album say about the leader of a rock group? In the case of Tom Petty's "Full Moon Fever" (MCA 6253), it says quite a lot, because hearing Petty without the Heartbreakers does not prove to be all that different from hearing him with the band.

It does not hurt that three out of four 'Breakers turn up in cameo appearances (along with an equal number of Traveling Wilburys); even so, credit for the album's consistency lies not with Petty's players but with the singer-songwriter himself.

Not only do these songs, from the gritty "Runnin' Down a Dream" to the casually catchy "I Won't Back Down," boast Petty's usual blend of bluesy edge and melodic accessibility, but they are delivered with the off-hand authority of Petty's best group efforts. In all, a great slice of basic rock 'n' roll.

  • 1989-05-13_Charleston-News-and-Courier

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Petty experiments on his own with 'Full Moon'
Charleston News and Courier - Saturday, May 13, 1989

Solo records from the stars of successful rock bands can be scatter-brained and downright self-indulgent (just ask Mick Jagger). Or, they can represent a chance to explore new themes and musical styles, like Bruce Springsteen's bare-to-the-bone 1982 LP Nebraska. Tom Petty follows suit with the latter, coming up with a delightful and engaging first solo effort titled Full Moon Fever.

In Petty's case, though, the term solo may not be completely accurate. Reviewing the credits from the LP's jacket reveals that TP did not stray far from "home" in the making of "Full Moon." Everyone from his band the Heartbreakers, except for drummer Stan Lynch, makes an appearance on the album. Heartbreakers guitarist, Mike Campbell, even earns coproduction credit.

And, the LP features all of Petty's new band-mates (except Bob Dylan) from the commercially popular side-project group, The Traveling Wilburys. Fellow Wilbury Jeff Lynne, of ELO fame, receives the lion's share of credit for the production of "Full Moon," along with assistance from Campbell, and Petty himself.

With all the big names associated with this "solo" project it might be expected that "Full Moon" would be loaded with frills, especially with the inclusion of Lynne as producer, who's Electric Light Orchestra was hardly known for a sparse sound. But to their credit, Petty and Lynne (who co-wrote 7 of the LP's 12 cuts) have made a record that can boast simple, unadorned arrangements as its most attractive quality. No doubt a lesson learned from their Wilbury experience.

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Tom Petty's 'year off' resulted in three records
By Steve Morse
Lakeland Ledger - May 19, 1989

Tom Petty had planned to take the last year off.

"I was going to find a new place to live, then relax a little. But I wound up starting a solo record, then Roy Orbison's record and the Traveling Wilburys album," he said recently from Los Angeles. "But it all happened very naturally."

Petty's sabbatical was set to occur when the "endless touring" with his band, the Heartbreakers - who had alternately toured with Bob Dylan and headlined their own shows for more than a year - finally halted in London in September 1987. But then came several incidents that changed those best-laid plans.

First came the four nights that former Beatle George Harrison and producer Jeff Lynne - two future cohorts in the Traveling Wilburys - visited backstage after Petty's week-long London dates. "Each time they came, we wound up sitting and talking into the night. We got along really well, instantly. It was one of those things where you meet someone and you feel you've known them forever," Petty adds.

Commentary: Tom Petty shows emotions on first light-hearted album
By Steve MacKelvie
Lewiston Morning Tribune - Friday, May 19, 1989

Tom Petty | "Full Moon Fever" | MCA
Tom Petty has finally made a light-hearted album. "Full Moon Fever" is Petty without the Heartbreakers for the first time. He's actually having fun and displaying sincere emotions without being a pessimist's uncle.

Rather than sneering at the world, Petty spends his time writing love songs in all forms (most with fellow Wilbury and co-producer Jeff Lynne). He sings a romantic lullaby to his sleeping lady with only an acoustic guitar on "Alright For Now." Then there's the swaying sentimental guitar strumming ballad "A Face In The Crowd," referring to a woman he's seen in the crowd for years and only fantasized over their meeting.

Right about where Tom Petty's voice strains, during the chorus of the rough rocker "Love Is A Long Road," you'll want to turn it up. The stable drumming and crisp rolls of Heartbreaker Mike Campbell's guitar makes this one crank. The best song for rolling into summertime with all the windows open is "Runnin' Down A Dream." Drummer Phil Jones lets loose a locomotive beat as Campbell plays engineer and Petty growls, "I'm going wherever it (dream) leads."

Melbourne Age - May 19, 1989

I Won't Back Down | Tom Petty (WEA)
The Traveling Wilbury Mafia comes up with another mix and match hit. This time Tom Petty songs a song which Jeff Lynne produced and George Harrison should have written. The verses in particular are pure George while Jeff throws his familiar vocal weight behind the choruses. Admittedly it's formula music, but this formula has still got a bit of steam left in it.

Tuned In
by Chuck Campbell
Daytona Beach News-Journal - May 20, 1989

'Full Moon Fever' | Tom Petty (MCA)
Tom Petty's Full Moon Fever is technically a solo album, but in reality it is a combination-group affair.

Guest appearances are logged by members of his band, The Heartbreakers -- Mike Campbell, Howie Epstein and Benmont Tench -- as well as fellow Traveling Wilburys George Harrison, Roy Orbison and Jeff Lynne.

Lynne, the frontman for ELO, is the most significant contributor, producing the album, singing backing vocals, playing bass, guitars and keyboards and co-writing seven of the record's cuts.

Yet, despite all the outside influences, Full Moon Fever is soaked in traditional Tom Petty -- a testimony to the musician's strong creative identity.

Remakes Rule Alternative Top 10 Playlist
By Robert Hilburn
The Los Angeles Times - May 20, 1989

7. Tom Petty's "Feel a Whole Lot Better" (MCA)--Petty's new "Full Moon Fever" isn't his most ambitious album, but he has rarely sounded more comfortable. This affectionate remake of the Byrds tune underscores that spirit.

By Marty Racine
Houston Chronicle - Sunday, May 21, 1989

Full Moon Fever | Tom Petty | MCA
Tom Petty's first post-Heartbreakers solo album is a friendly, open look at the songwriter inside the man.

Of course, "solo" is a matter of semantics. Three of his four longtime Heartbreakers - Howie Epstein, Mike Campbell and Benmont Tench - appear periodically throughout the LP, and Petty is quick to maintain that the partnership still lives. But rather than pegging the thrust of his songs to an ensemble, Petty here is shaping the instrumentation around the song, many of which seem to have been written with acoustic guitar and embellished from there, revealing an up-close look at the melodies and lyrics rattling through his brain.