The Petty Archives

Tom Petty
By Dave Ferman
Orlando Sentinel - November 18, 1994

Tom Petty, Wildflowers (Warner Bros.): On the first song of Tom Petty's new CD, he addresses a woman, "Run away, go find a lover," with a sweet lilt. About an hour later, over quiet piano chords, he looks back at his life and says, gently but firmly, "And it's wake up time/ Time to open up your eyes/ And rise and shine."

That final song, "Wake Up Time," the quiet, stately linchpin of this wonderful new Petty solo CD, is addressed to some unnamed "you" ... Petty himself. On this, probably Petty's finest and certainly most mature work, people follow their hearts, look for shelter, pine for a home in the gently swaying trees and try to outrun the past. Petty tells their stories with the hopeful but wry restlessness of a man who's still asking the right questions.

Petty blooms lyrically on Wildflowers
By David Greaves
The Villanovan - November 18, 1994

Tom Petty has returned with an intensely poignant and mature solo album. Wildflowers showcases the complete spectrum of Petty's songwriting talent, from rueful self-evaluation to his trademark dry humor. The new album proves to be one of Petty's best, with or without the Heartbreakers, his backup band since the mid-70s.

Calling Wildflowers a solo project is somewhat misleading. The Heartbreakers' guitarist Mike Campbell, pianist Benmont Tench and bassist Howie Epstein contribute on several of the tracks. Campbell's effusive talent can best be heard in "You Wreck Me," a fast-paced, buoyant song similar in nature to "Running Down a Dream" from Petty's first solo album, Full Moon Fever. "A Higher Place" is another up-beat, spirited song that acts to counter-balance more introspective songs like "Hard On Me" and "Wake Up Time." In "A Higher Place," Tom Petty's vocals and Mike Campbell's guitar are accompanied by a string section orchestrated by Benmont Tench which harmonizes and synthesizes the music into a full and resonant whole.

Editor's Note: This article confuses me. The authorial note at the end mentions the writer is in 11th grade, yet this isn't a student newspaper. And for some reason, I also get the impression that he doesn't like Tom's voice. 

Music: Petty's 'Wildflowers' shows little musical talent
By Chris Pruitt
Ocala Star-Banner - November 28, 1994

Tom Petty has been one of several musical stars to come out of Gainesville. Beginning his career in 1976, he and his band, The Heartbreakers, released their first self-titled album. It had several good songs on it, such as "American Girl" and "Breakdown," but he still was not what most would call famous.

His career continued even though he remained in the shadows. In 1989, he made an album without the Heartbreakers entitled "Full Moon Fever." With songs like "Free Fallin'" and "I Won't Back Down," he became an overnight success.

The next album he recorded was with the Heartbreakers entitled, "Into the Great Wide Open." This album also did very well and he got two hits out of it, the title song and "Learning to Fly."

Tributes and Other Stuff
By Scott J. Lusby
The Stony Brook Press - November 28, 1994

Over the course of the semester, I have received numerous discs from various major and independent record companies, trying to solicit a review of whatever bands they happened to be promoting. As this semester is quietly winding down (only one more issue left after this), I figured that it was about time I reviewed some of the more interesting discs I have received.

You Got Lucky, released by Backyard Records, is a tribute by various artists to Tom Petty. The fact that this compilation is made up of up-and-coming bands performing classic Petty tunes strikes me as being appropriate; Tom Petty would probably accept this, even like the idea. While I don't necessarily agree with the arrangement that some of the songs were recorded in, it doesn't mean that this isn't a disk worth picking up. There are some bright spots on You Got Lucky, even a couple of downright outstanding renditions of classic rock songs.

You Got Lucky starts off with perhaps its best track, "American Girl" performed by Everclear. This marked the first time I have ever heard Everclear perform (although I have heard of them), and I must say I was impressed. Their interpretation of "American Girl" was outstanding, lending a '90's "roughness" to the song. Other excellent numbers on the disc include "Stop Draggin' My Heart Around" performed by Lord Lucy with Lucky Post, "Don't Come Around Here No More" by Fig Dish, and Punchdrunk's rendition of "Nightwatchman," which finishes a close second to Everclear as the album's best performances. On the whole, You Got Lucky would make for an interesting Christmas gift for any music lover or Petty fan, should you be in the market for such a gift.

Music Review: Petty's 'Wildflowers' smell sweet
By James Sigman
The Ithacan - December 1, 1994

Heartbreakers' latest release stays true to the songwriter's winning formula
Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers -- Wildflowers | 8/10 | Produced by Rick Rubin
Most rock stars constantly reinvent themselves hoping to reach new audiences.

Eric Clapton's "Unplugged" album and his recent release "From the Cradle" are both examples of a musician trying to broaden his appeal. Yet Tom Petty has rarely strayed from his band of rock. Petty's latest release, "Wildflowers," tinkers with the formula slightly but stays true to Petty's Heartbreaker roots.

The album is essentially a Heartbreakers album minus drummer Stan Lynch, who left the band. The rest of the Heartbreakers, Mike Campbell, Howie Epstein and Benmont Tench, provide their usual workmanlike performances. Tench shines throughout, especially on "To Find a Friend," playing a solo on tack piano.

Many of the songs are marked by the consistently unexplainable Petty lyric. "Honey Bee" offers a good example: "Her juju beads are so nice/She kissed my third cousin twice/I'm the king of Pomona/And I've got something to say." Some things are definitely best left unexplained.

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Dark clouds on the horizon for Tom Petty
By Brian Garrity
The Ram - December 1, 1994

For Tom Petty, love is a series of fits and starts, not one smooth ride. The same can be said for Wildflowers, Petty's first solo effort since Full Moon Fever. While the album is at times inspired, it lacks an overall strong consistency.

Petty is quick out of the gates on the first four tracks, but it's hit or miss the rest of the way.

Producer Rick Rubin takes out the cutesy feel that was all over Don Was's Wilberry-style production of Full Moon Fever. Wildflowers is a much more sober effort. Unfortunately, Rubin, who is known for his work with the Red Hot Chili Peppers, apparently isn't exactly comfortable with the sober feel. His influence is all over the revved up guitars in the ridiculous "Honey Bee" and "Cabin In The Woods."

Wildflowers is in its element when Petty works with the lower key and acoustic arrangements.

Grooves: CD Reviews
By D.R. Klausmeyer
Central Michigan Life - Friday, December 2, 1994

A guide to today's ratings:
★★★★★ Genius at work | ★★★★ Top notch | ★★★ Pretty good | ★★ Missed the mark | ★ Pathetic display

Tom Petty | Wildflowers | Warner Bros.
Music seems to come easy to Tom Petty. At least, when you listen to a Petty record, it's so effortless and uncomplicated you have to wonder how it stayed that way so long. He'll always tell tales of the person he's been and the way people are.

Petty's latest, Wildflowers, is still as true as ever, but its songs carry a little more baggage. Petty has been around for a long time, and in the past few years have come to be recognized as one of American rock's elder statesmen. As a result, there's a little more old sage showing up in his music.

You get the feeling he can write 10 really good songs in the time it takes a budding artist to write just one.

Petty Tribute Album Was Long Overdue
The Gateway - December 2, 1994

After the entertaining but decidedly tongue-in-cheek Kiss tribute last spring and coinciding with the release of a Carpenters tribute album, Backyard Records has released "You Got Lucky," a homage to a songwriter who legitimately deserves it -- Tom Petty.

You Got Lucky: A Tribute to Tom Petty is a terrific idea. What better way to create a buzz for a brand-new label full of underground bands than to latch on to an artist as well known as Petty?

Just looking at the band roster and the songs represented it is a good start, as it includes some of Petty's more underappreciated material (there's only a couple of Petty's bigger hit singles) covered by bands from some of the country's noted musical breeding grounds (Seattle, Chicago, San Diego, Minneapolis, Cincinnati and Washington).

And by the time the Portland, Ore., band Everclear wails "Make it last all goddamn night" on "American Girl," the rousing opening track, it's hard not to be having fun.

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Recordings: Folk-rock gems bloom in Petty's 'Wildflowers'
By Jerry Spangler
The Deseret News - Saturday, December 3, 1994

TOM PETTY: "Wildflowers"; produced by Rick Rubin, Tom Petty and Mike Campbell (Warner Brothers). ★★★★
There's good news and there's bad news for Tom Petty fans. The good news, of course, is that Petty is back on record store shelves with a brand new album he calls "Wildflowers."

The bad news, at least for fans of Petty's deliciously anthemic brand of Southern-fried rock 'n' roll, is that the Heartbreakers -- Petty's long-time supporting cast -- is on hiatus.

Oh sure. Mike Campbell still holds first-chair electric guitar, and piano wizard Benmont Tench is still around. But lacking the guitar-crunch of a "Mary Jane's Last Dance," "Wildflowers" steers in a whole new musical direction.

It is stark, somber, introspective, retrospective, witty. And largely acoustic.