The Petty Archives

Petty fans cheer new CD
By Devin Grant
Charleston Post & Courier - April 22, 1999

Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers - "Echo" - (WB)
Everyone has at least one artist that they hold so dear to their hearts, that they will buy that artist's new release, sound unheard, because they just know that it will be good. For more than a few rock listeners, the purchase of a Tom Petty album has always been a pretty safe bet in that regard. Rarely have the Heartbreakers actually lived up to their name by presenting us with something unlistenable. One lone black mark came in the '80s with "Let Me Up I've Had Enough," which for the most part sounded phoned in.

"Echo" represents Petty's first true release with the Heartbreakers since 1991's "Into the Great Wide Open." Since then there has been a solo Petty album, "Wildflowers," and a soundtrack to the movie "She's The One" that only partially pacified fans waiting for more from Tom.

If the amount of time between albums has made you hesitant about what you might find on "Echo," then allow me to calm any undue anxieties that you may have. As Petty himself said to David Letterman recently, "Rock 'n' roll is alive and kicking at my house!"

"Echo" opens with the haunting "Room At The Top" and quickly falls into that signature Tom Petty groove with tracks like "Counting On You," "Lonesome Sundown," and "Swingin'," which compares, in typical Petty tongue-in-cheek fashion, all things that swing, like Benny Goodman and Sonny Liston.

The only downside to "Echo" is that, unlike past Tom Petty releases, there doesn't seem to be a definite single anywhere on the album. "Room At The Top" certainly warrants air play, and it is being played nationally. However, nothing on this album jumps out at you like "You Got Lucky" or "Into The Great Wide Open" did in the past. This is not a problem though, because "Echo" is a very listenable album as a whole. This becomes more apparent with each listening.

So maybe that's what Petty had in mind when he named the album. Playing it over and over, like an echo. (A)