Dubuque Telegraph-Herald - Sunday, June 6, 1999
"Echo" (Warner Bros.) - Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers.
In the early 1980s, Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers released two studio works of perfect pop rock: "Hard Promises" and "Long After Dark." They were filled with men done wrong by their girls, often morally challenged, "looking for something big."
Then Petty got happy and started exploring a less-edgy side with former ELO frontman Jeff Lynne as his producer.
Freshly separated from his wife, Petty's recent woes are the listener's gain as the Heartbreakers' newest release, "Echo," hails back to their leader's best work. Lynne is gone as producer and Petty gives a lesson in the ABCs of rock 'n' roll.
The nasal-voiced Petty fills the disc with acid-tongued rockers such as "Free Girl Now," "Swingin'" and "Rhino Skin."
But "Echo" offers an autobiographical dimension missing from most of Petty's well-established catalogue. The lyrics here might be the best he has ever written. "Room at the Top" captures the isolated millionaire good ol' boy without coming off as an exercise in self pity, while the title song and "One More Day, One More Night" simply have him breaking down.
"Echo" does have a few so-so tunes but the best of the songs rank with "The Waiting" or "You Got Lucky" from Petty's heydey. They might even be better.