The Petty Archives

Tom Petty the heartbroken
By Richard Cromelin
The Los Angeles Times - October 17, 2002

The indignant pop veteran pines for - and delivers - deeply felt rock at the Grand Olympic.
With their indictments of mediocrity in general and the music biz in particular, the most in-your-face songs on Tom Petty's new album have suddenly turned the veteran rock musician into a sort of pop-culture vigilante, a longhaired Dirty Harry just begging a trembling record company weasel to make his day.

During his concert at the Grand Olympic Auditorium on Tuesday, Petty addressed this portrayal, which has been slapped on him since the release last week of "The Last DJ."

"I'm not only mad," Petty told the crowd in the auditorium, as well as the audience on a simultaneous radio broadcast and theater telecast. "There's a lot of hope left in this world, and this song is supposed to symbolize that."

Petty runs down, and over, American dream
By Edna Gundersen
USA Today - October 17, 2002

MALIBU, Calif. — Embattled and embittered, Tom Petty takes on the music industry and corporate America on The Last DJ, the rocker's battle cry for moral reform.

He targets money-grubbing moguls, tour sponsorships, radio's homogenized playlists and apathetic fans, all metaphors for grander crimes rampant in a profit-driven society. On Money Becomes King, a fan sees rock 'n' roll idealism trampled under a greed stampede. The title track bemoans the personality-free monotony on airwaves. Joe studies revenue gluttons who poison art.

"I left nobody out," Petty says. "I pick on the artist, the audience, everyone. And not just in the music industry. It could be any business. The problem is greed, pure and simple. Never mind a healthy profit; the idea is: 'We want all the money we can get. We want every damn dime out there, and our computers can show us where every dime is.' The mom-and-pop store had to care about its customers and its products to survive. These giant corporations don't care about anything but profit."

Reviews and Previews: Our Two Cents On The Latest Releases
Review by Mike Capel
The Oswegonian - Friday, October 18, 2002

The Last DJ | Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers | ★★★★ Excellent
Pushing into his mid-fifties, Tom Petty has hit rock's complacency years, when most artists (see the Rolling Stones) start rehashing old hits into spotty live albums and greatest hits packages. But for Petty and the Heartbreakers, America's most resilient garage band, grandfather-hood doesn't play into strapping on their axes and manning their battle stations.

The Last DJ, Petty's thirteenth studio album, is his kiss-off call to arms for those about to rock. Over twelve tracks, Petty disassembles the music industry establishment that he knows all too well. He has battled a personal fight with record executives for lower album prices and free downloadable music during different stages of his career. Judging from the bitter kick of the opening title track ("there goes your freedom of choice/there goes the last human voice"), he and the Heartbreakers prove that their venom has only gotten deadlier with age.

Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers: "The Last DJ"
By Gabe Estill
The Western Courier - October 18, 2002

As consumers bathe in the afterglow of television’s "American Idol" series and its spawn of manufactured talent, a more intuitive music listener need only look for true inspiration in a wise old man.

Tom Petty might be the closest thing anyone has had to idolize in quite a long time.

In an era that is becoming more and more rooted in style over substance and commercial viability over musical integrity, Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers’ latest effort "The Last DJ" serves as a beacon of light in a tunnel filled with commercialization, mediocrity and Scott Stapp.

Perpetuating his longstanding integrity and rock idealism, Petty amplifies his dissatisfaction with the music industry not by slapping the hand that feeds him, but reminding the fatcats that one can’t sell the true soul of rock and roll, the fire that still burns with passion in headphones, bedrooms and basements throughout America.

In "The Last DJ," Petty gives listeners his nearest example of a concept album. Here we see several stories whose characters and principles revolve around the refusal to compromise one’s integrity amidst escalating funds, beer endorsements, MTV and countless record executives.

Petty is not saying that money is necessarily evil, but when it outweighs the music … well, then we have run into very empty times.

Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers | The Last DJ | (Warner Bros)
By Len Righi
The Morning Call - October 19, 2002

Rock I do not for an instant doubt that Tom Petty sincerely believes the tales he spins on "The Last DJ." I am also certain that Tom Petty is full of beans. Why? Because his condemnations of the Big Bad Music Business are not acts of bravery, just imbecility, and based on faulty assumptions. Was there ever a time when everything wasn't up for sale? Not really; but there always have been people who have resisted selling out, even in the most corrupt corporate suites. Instead of practicing individuality, Petty preaches humorlessly, petulantly and not very originally on the title track (think of The Clash's "London Calling" as performed by The Byrds); "Joe," a cannonade blast at cynical CEOs that even "Soap Opera"-era Ray Davies would consider too obvious and scattershot, and the whiny "When Money Becomes King," which nicks "Ode to Billie Joe." Not all 12 tracks are about the biz; but even those that aren't are crappy. The lowest point: the anti-gun themed "When a Kid Goes Bad" (imagine the Stones' "When the Whip Comes Down" played at quarter-speed by Crazy Horse). The most shameless ripoff: "Have Love Will Travel," a simulation of Derek and the Dominos doing "Little Wing." The funniest moment: "The Man Who Loves Women," which recalls simultaneously the faux vaudeville of "Winchester Cathedral," Peter and Gordon, Leon Redbone and XTC. Now there's a mix any DJ would be proud of.

Balanced Attack
By Eric C. Danton
Houston Chronicle - Sunday, October 20, 2002

On 'DJ,' Petty blends caustic lyrics with 'unhurried' music
"The Last DJ" | Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers | Warner Bros. | Grade: B
TOM Petty has never been much for lyrical crusades. Even when he sang of wanting to be king on the Wildflowers album in 1994, he limited his laundry list of royal perquisites to getting his own way and finding a "feeling of peace at the end of the day."

Maybe his sense of moral outrage has simply built up over the years, but Petty has a few pointed things to say on his new album, The Last DJ. There's the title track, for starters, on which the normally laid-back singer lashes out in fairly stark terms at the "corporatization" of radio.

"There goes your freedom of choice/There goes the last human voice," he sings in the refrain.

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CD Review: Heartbreakers' latest sticks it to industry
Review by Renee Brock
The Red & Black - Tuesday, October 22, 2002

Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers | The Last DJ | Grade: A
While Tom Petty's most recent CD, "The Last DJ," is a bit of a tirade on the music industry, it still shows that he hasn't forgotten how to rock and roll.

His lyrics addressing the corporate music industry, at times, can be a bit heavy-handed, but this veteran of rock speaks his side of the truth loud and clear in songs like "The Last DJ" and "Joe."

In fact, he dedicates this album "to everyone that loves music just a little bit more than money."

Tom Petty | The Last DJ | (Warner Bros) | Grade: B+
Review by Nick Kiefer
Xavier University Newswire - October 23, 2002

Long wait worth it for new Petty album.
After years of experience in the music business, Tom Petty and his crew really show their audacity in this lyrically aggressive account of the dominating nature of music executives in modern pop culture.

As the Heartbreakers focus on the greed of today's record companies and corporate businessmen, the classic sounds of Petty's uniquely-pitched voice and the band's time-honored guitar resonance are still present after over 25 years of albums. The Last DJ has a noticeably softer sound, in part from the limited amount of unique twanging solos that served as the foundation for many of the group's earlier works.

Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers | The Last DJ | [Warner Brothers]
By Rich Bunnell
The Daily Californian - Thursday, October 24, 2002

Tom Petty is one of the few classic rockers who has enough credibility with the kids these days to be able to lash out at the record industry without seeming like a disgruntled old windbag. You can bet that Styx won't be trying anything like this anytime soon.

That said, the latest album from everyone's favorite chronically-unshaven rock icon, hyped as his Big Statement against the evils of the corporate music world, comes off as a bit too obvious and ham-fisted when he tries to bite the hand that feeds him.

It was one thing when Tom wrenchingly declared "Everybody's got to fight to be free" during his famous court battle against MCA in 1979. When he takes on the role of a greedy record company executive named "Joe" and shouts "You get to be famous, I get to be rich!", however, one begins to crave the subtlety that once came hand-in-hand with the guy's lyrics.