Petty presents a five-star concert
By Michelle Parks
The Evening Independent - October 7, 1981
"Ya'll know what?" Petty asks the crowd. "I'm in love ... it's gonna be one of them crazy nights."
Tom Petty picked and grinned, sauntered, beckoned, and cajoled. The Bayfront Center crowd was feeling good Tuesday night and he was reveling in the delight that The Heartbreakers were making it so.
As warmup, Joe Ely and band were moderately successful is sustaining and drawing out the crowd's excitement, despite Ely's voice often being drowned out by the guitars. Good Rockin' Tonight and the oldie Eeny Meeny were done well, but specific lines to songs and their intensity particularly stand out ("You're the kind who likes to change your mind/And when you start to rain, you pour ... it's the end of the lover's drought").
Ely's rockabilly was a good choice for a Heartbreakers opener, and although the music was good, the musicians weren't Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers and they held no promise of Stevie Nicks joining them.
Through a slew of hits, Petty razzle-dazzled the crowd. He was enjoying the crowd and flattery got him everywhere. The Waiting, from his newest album Hard Promises, was dedicated to St. Petersburg.
Pop Profile: Just hard promises from Tom Petty
By Justin S.
New Straits Times - Sunday, October 18, 1981
"I'm an insider/I've been burned by the fire/And I have had to live with some hard promises."
Thus goes part of the lyrics of Tom Petty's Insider which produced the title of his new album, HARD PROMISES, released locally not too long ago.
The ironical thing was that the song was not even supposed to be in the album. It was a last-minute effort by Petty to give Stevie Nicks a song for her solo set, BELLA DONNA.
But Petty and producer Jimmy Iovine loved it so much that Nicks had to be content with another song, Stop Dragging My Heart Around.
Records: Shannon proves he's runaway talent
By Jim Musser
The Daily Iowan - Thursday, October 29, 1981
The period in the early 1960s, beginning roughly with Buddy Holly's death and Elvis leaving for the service, and ending with the arrival of Beatlemania, was a bleak one for rock 'n' roll. Outside of various rhythm and blues group, Del Shannon (along with Roy Orbison and Dion & the Belmonts) was one of the very few to keep the spirit of rock 'n' roll alive.
Yet when Shannon appeared at the Rosebud in Iowa City for two nights last May, it was readily apparent to the lucky few who attended that this was not just another over-the-hill "oldies" act out beating the sticks for the last few bucks it could muster -- this was a rocker who had been lost or misplaced for much too long.
Since Shannon had no record company support to speak of at the time, he was obliged to use local bands (in this case, Compass) to back him up. Such an arrangement limited him to performances of his most familiar (and oldest) material.
Vinyl: Drop Down And Get Me | Del Shannon | Electra/Asylum
Review by Allan Peterson
The Daily Aztec - November 13, 1981
I don't know, maybe I'm prejudiced and jaded beyond repair, but to me, this stuff sounds like music for recovering alcoholics. A couple of the tunes are actually acceptable and listenable. The rest of it sounds like the background music in a cheap Mexican restaurant. Now, soothing music can be useful: if you're drunk enough, if your baby done you wrong enough, if you don't know or care enough. Del has definitely had enough. During the course of the LP, he calls himself a "sucker," a "fool" gets down on his knees and considers himself crazy more than once. I believe him. Maybe lyrics don't matter. Maybe they do.
The music after all is reasonable. Tom Petty produces, and most of the Heartbreakers appear. This LP can't be all bad, right? Yeah, okay, it does make it -- twice. The title track is reassuringly inventive and biting. "To Love Someone," the last ballad on side one, is kind of nice. Sweet really.
Tom Petty living up to promise
By Plain Old Feej
The Sou'wester - November 20, 1981
If I had not, as a young girl, seen a grainy snapshot of Chuck Negron singing "Pieces of April" with a Samoan priest my attitude toward contemporary rock would probably not have become so stand-offish. In fact, I -- wait, forget I mentioned that.
Me, I'm a woman in love... and you will be too, after you rush out and buy Tom Petty's latest (and fourth) LP, "Hard Promises." This latest effort, and his recent collaboration with Stevie Nicks on her solo album "Belladonna," has placed "the Heartbreakers" in the higher echelons of rock society, with Petty himself emerging as an extremely accomplished and capable producer. Even more precision has gone into "Promises" than his last smash album "Damn the Torpedoes." Surely Backstreet Records must be counting their chickens, and believe me, they've hatched -- with this effort, Petty turns a cult following into mass adoration.
Review/Preview: 81's Best and Worst Ten Albums Reviewed
By Dan Russell
The Duquesne Duke - December 10, 1981
Winners display solid albums
3. Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers/Hard Promises
With Hard Promises, Tom Petty became an American hero this year second to Bruce Springsteen, not bad company to be with at all. Compare his sound to whoever you like, but Petty came into his own on this album and is destined for super-stardom. His songs deal with more than just hard luck love affairs and rock and roll as he chooses here to sing about hope and the future. His title cut duo with Stevie Nicks shows the compassionate side of Tom Petty, but there is still plenty of rock and roll. Petty didn't mellow on Hard Promises but, instead, matured as a rock musician.
Unabridged: Critics choose best albums of year
Review by Jeff Callan
The Miami Student - Friday, December 11, 1981
As the year draws to a close, 1981's virtual cornucopia of albums has begun to taper off with a now-routine blitz of greatest hits Christmas packages. The critics of UNABRIDGED thought this would be a good time to seize the advantages of hindsight and rank their top album choices for the year.
The critics don't pretend to be intimate with all albums released in 1981. Indeed, listening to more than a small fraction of the year's output would be prohibitively time-consuming. They have attempted, instead, to keep a finger on the pulse of "important" albums, while listening for new and different sounds (which might never get radio airplay).
All lists are indulgently subjective, but -- after all -- isn't that what the appreciation of music is all about?
No. 1. Hard Promises by Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers. This set combines the Byrds-like sound of the '60s with the hard edge of the '80s. Raw, tender and passionate.
Pop poll produces zero agreement
Review by Peter Grad
Meriden Record-Journal - Saturday, December 19, 1981
Editor's note: With our regular columnist, Jim Zebora, taking a week off from his typewriter, we asked some Record-Journal staff members to discuss their favorite recorded music of '81.
Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, HARD PROMISES (Backstreet, MCA)
Tom openly professes his admiration for the Byrds and the Roger McGuinn influence on the group's work is far from subtle. Nevertheless, this is one of the most exciting groups recording today. "A Woman in Love," a haunting acoustic composition, is destined to become a radio classic in the mold of Lynyrd Skynyrd's "Free Bird," the Zep's "Stairway to Heaven" and Pure Prairie League's "Aimee." "Letting You Go" and "A Thing About You" are also extremely catchy. They're clearly a group to keep an eye on, with albums consistently strong and getting better.
Rock: In concerts
By Lennox Samuels
The Milwaukee Sentinel - January 1, 1982
TOM PETTY AND THE HEARTBREAKERS, Alpine Valley Music Theater -- Petty seemed a bit, ah, buzzed, but it took nothing from what truly was one of the year's stellar performances. Petty was wired, the band was tight and the crowd was primed. The music? Great. Fine accounts of "American Girl," "Here Comes My Girl," "Thing About You," "King's Road" and many others.