Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers: Echo
By Bradley Schaufelberger
Clarkson Integrator - Monday, April 26, 1999
There are only a few things that you can count on in life and good music written by Tom Petty is one of them. Echo is his 11th studio album with the Heartbreakers and seems to be one of his best.
Petty comes roaring back with this album that challenges this progressive rock era. He doesn't rely on sound distortion and power chords to make his music more appealing to the younger masses. Petty simply sticks with his simple recipe that made him a legend. The three-year hiatus was what the band really needed to put out another exceptional album. Petty is able to mix slower songs with quicker ones with the greatest of ease. He is able to go from one extreme right to another and make it sound great.
The album starts with the song "Room at the Top," which starts off slow but builds into a great rocker. Petty sings, "I got a room at the top of the world tonight/I can see everything tonight/Can have a drink and forget those things/That went wrong in their life." The next song, "Counting on You," sounds like something right off Wildflowers. "Swingin'" is a song that tells the story of a female desperado. This harmonica-dominated song is classic Tom Petty and has an extremely catchy beat. Most of the songs tend to be faster paced but he slows down from time to time for a breather.
Some of the songs on the album definitely don't do a good job of hiding his aging voice. "Free Girl Now" and "Echo" hint at an aging man's voice that has been down a long and ragged path. Other songs like "Billy the Kid" and "Won't Last Long" compliment his voice nicely. Mike Campbell (lead guitars) takes a crack at writing and singing with "I Don't Wanna Fight." Campbell almost sounds like Petty himself in this fast song. Spread out from each other are the slow songs "No More" and "Lonesome Sundown" that divide the album up almost perfectly.
"Rhino Skin" is one of the last songs on the album and has some of the best guitar work that Petty has done. The song starts out slower but slowly builds into an energetic jam of electric guitars followed by an awesome guitar solo. "About to Give Out" is perhaps the most upbeat song and is dominated towards the end by Benmont Tench's piano. The album ends with the slower "One More Day, One More Night," which is a great ending to a great album. Petty is still full of creativity and comes at the world with new life in Echo.
The album as a whole is very catchy and seems simple, which are basically Petty's trademarks. Some of his best guitar work can be found on this album with a variety of different songs that almost force you to listen. One minute you might be mellow and the next filled with energy, it's amazing. I give the album an A on the letter scale and strongly recommend it to anybody. Keeping things simple has done Petty well and everyone knows that he will put out some good music. Will Petty ever start acting his age? If this album is any indication I don't think it will happen any time soon. Maybe some of these younger bands should start taking notes if they want to be around for years to come. Special thanks to the owners of Strawberry Fields who were kind enough to lend out all of the albums reviewed this semester.