The Petty Archives

Tom's desert song gets helping hand
Daily Express - Saturday, August 24, 1991

Driving across the Arizona desert, Heartbreaker Tom Petty stopped to help out a stranded motorist.

It turned out to be none other that Winona Ryder's boyfriend Johnny Depp, star of the hit movie Edward Scissorhands.

Striking up a highway conversation, Johnny said he would love to appear in one of Tom's videos.

Faye Dunaway, who was filming with Johnny at the time, appears with him on the video which accompanies the new single, Into The Great Wide Open, released on September 9.

Tom's album of the same name has gone gold in the UK. He takes off on a three-month tour of the States at the end of the month, and UK dates are being discussed for the new year.

Tom Petty Is Mad as a Hatter in 'Wide Open' Video
By Patrick Goldstein
The Los Angeles Times - August 25, 1991

Nothing feeds a performer's already inflated ego more than his latest rock video. So it's a testimony to how secure Tom Petty feels about his niche in pop stardom that of all the characters he plays in his new video, the one he seems to relish the most is . . . a lowly roadie.

Credit either Petty's team-player instincts or his sly sense of humor, but the rock-hero role in Petty's new clip, "Into the Great Wide Open," is played by someone who actually began his career as a rock guitarist, but went on to win acclaim as a young actor . . . Johnny Depp.

  • 1991-08-29_Ocala-Star-Banner

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Tom Petty flying high after his 'dark period'
By David Wild
Ocala Star-Banner - Thursday, August 29, 1991

Tom Petty is hot these days.

In the wake of "Full Moon Fever," the best-selling album of his career, and given his tenure as the youngest Traveling Wilbury, Petty is flying high.

Yet this turn in Petty's commercial fortunes comes not so many years after a time when it seemed as though he and the Heartbreakers would have to journey to the desert to get hot. After the breakthrough success of "Damn the Torpedoes," in 1979, the group produced a series of distinguished albums that nonetheless seemed to sell progressively fewer copies.

Frustratingly for Petty -- whose success had always been based on the music rather than the persona -- he found himself making more news when he broke his hand during the recording of 1985's "Southern Accents," or when his home burned down in 1987, than when he put out a new record.

Pop/Rock: Giving the people what they want in music
Review by Tony Norman
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette - August 30, 1991

"Into the Great Wide Open" Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers (MCA Records)
One of the central mysteries of the record buying public is the sudden, but much-deserved success of Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers after nearly a decade of consumer indifference. Petty's much acclaimed solo effort "Full Moon Fever" obviously turned a few heads. It eventually led to the band's musical rejuvenation when they toured to support the album.

Now the boys are back with 12 new songs co-produced with Petty's fellow Traveling Wilbury Jeff Lynne. The results, if not the masterpiece everyone agrees is just about due, qualify as the best album by a "mainstream" band this year.

Listeners will experience an overwhelming feeling of deja vu at the end of the album's first cut "Learning to Fly," a continuation of Petty's thematic infatuation with skies, open spaces, celestial bodies, falling in love and woman who don't scare easily.

With deceptively simple lyrics and melodies, "Into the Great Wide Open" continues the laid-back pacing Petty picked up during his stint with the Wilburys. While Petty continues to enunciate like Dylan would after one too many evenings in the San Fernando Valley, the Heartbreakers continue to back him as if he still imitated Roger McGuinn.

Lynne is responsible for making sure the rough edges aren't too jagged, and he does his job well enough, but there's something to be said for allowing the Heartbreakers to rock louder and edgier than they do here.

This is wonderful airplane music.

Post-Gazette Rating: A

  • 1991-08-31-The-Deseret-News

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Debate over Tom's distinctive sound isn't petty but it's persistent
By Jerry Spangler
The Deseret News - Saturday, August 31, 1991

TOM PETTY & THE HEARTBREAKERS; "Into the Great Wide Open" (MCA) ★★★
When it comes to Tom Petty, it seems the only thing critics can agree on is to disagree.

To some, he's too commercial; to others not commercial enough. To some, he is a parody of the Byrds; to others his music is a welcome return to the traditional sounds of 1960s rock 'n' roll.

To some, his lyrics are pretentious and often "borrowed" from other songwriters; to others he represents the forefront of social and political songwriter that found renewed life in the 1980s.

Tom Petty now enters the 1990s an enigmatic personality, living as much in the past as on the cutting edge. On his latest album, "Into the Great Wide Open," will do little to create a critical consensus about Petty or his music.

But critics don't buy thousands of albums; normal people do. And what the new album should do for the average listener is further establish Petty as one of America's finest pop-rock craftsmen. The album is loaded with catchy melodies, metaphorical word plays and good old-fashioned, guitar-drenched rock 'n' roll.

Listen Up: Petty's back, 'Breakers got him
Review by Forrest White
Charleston Post & Courier - September 1, 1991

TOM PETTY AND THE HEARTBREAKERS, "Into the Great Wide Open." MCA. ★★★
Once again, Tom Petty has forged a collection that's unmistakably Petty. Whatzat? Well, yeah, it would be pretty hard to disguise that voice, but that's not the point.

For "Into the Great Wide Open," Petty reunites with the Heartbreakers for the first time since the 1987 release, "Let Me Up (I've Had Enough)." He's been hanging out lately with good company, rock gods and fellow Traveling Wilburys Bob Dylan and George Harrison, not to mention his good buddies Jeff Lynne and Roger McGuinn. And, we can't forget the late Roy Orbison.

Petty Delivers Rock, Pure And Simple
By Greg Kot
Chicago Tribune - September 1, 1991

Consistency Is The Key To His Laidback Success
When Tom Petty sang the line "I won't back down" on his "Full Moon Fever" album three years ago, it didn't sound like a macho boast.

Instead, he delivered it in a calm, measured voice, like someone who didn't need to shout to prove how tough he was.

When Petty talks, it's the same way. Although he's been a California resident since the '70s, he converses in a soft, gentlemanly drawl that bares traces of his Florida upbringing.

"I don't go back and listen to my records," he says. "But when I hear them on the radio, I always like them. It makes me feel good that when they come on, there's nothing that makes me want to hide under the seat."

  • 1991-09-06_The-Milwaukee-Sentinel

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On Tap: Petty, Cliff honor past while forging own paths
By Jim Higgins
The Milwaukee Sentinel - September 6, 1991

Tom Petty and Jimmy Cliff, a pair of singers who honor tradition while distinctly going their own way, will sing in Milwaukee this weekend.

Petty and the Heartbreakers will perform at 8 p.m. Saturday at the Marcus Amphitheater. Tickets are $22.50 and $29.50, plus service charges.

Listeners who heard Petty's "American Girl" from his 1976 debut album might have sworn it was Roger McGuinn of The Byrds. Petty's sound owes a lot, including occasional use of 12-string guitar, to The Byrds, and he honored McGuinn by co-writing "King of the Hill" for the Byrdman's recent "Back From Rio" album.

In addition to echoing McGuinn, Petty plays with a snarling emotional intensity that's all his own.

Petty delivers a psychotic reaction
By Thor Christensen
The Milwaukee Journal - September 9, 1991

The word "psychedelic" is bandied about so often in rock 'n' roll that it has become almost meaningless. But Mike Campbell, guitarist for Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, came up with a sound so tough and mysterious Saturday night at the Marcus Amphitheater it virtually defined the P word.

Touring behind their latest album, "Into the Great Wide Open," Petty and the Heartbreakers paid homage to the psychedelia era with an "Alice in Wonderland"-inspired stage set: candle-lit chandeliers hung over the stage and from the amphitheater roof while a dragon-man bearing a harmonica emerged from inside a massive oak tree.

Petty's theatrical acid trip reached its climax as masked men dressed like George Bush, Ronald Reagan and Richard Nixon chased the singer around the strobe-lit stage. Petty fought them back with an oversize neon-pink peace symbol, and escaped his nightmare unscathed. Good trippy fun, but the props and antics had nothing on Campbell's surreal guitar playing.