The Petty Archives

Song of the Day: 'Anything That's Rock 'n' Roll,' Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers
By Jay Lustig
Newark Star-Ledger - Thursday, December 29, 2011

You never think of Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers as punk-rock. But in the late '70s, that's almost what they seemed like: a fresh alternative to the overblown prog-rock and safe pop of the day -- not as angry or as crude as real punk, of course, but derived from the same back-to-basics spirit. (Elvis Costello's raw but tuneful debut album, "My Aim Is True," created the same impression.)

"Breakdown" was the first Heartbreakers single to really break through in the U.S., in 1978, but "Anything That's Rock 'n' Roll" -- with its relentless, grinding beat, Chuck Berry guitar riffs and snarling lyrics ("I didn't go to bed, didn't go to work/I picked up the telephone, told the boss he was a jerk") -- had already become a hit in the U.K.

Both "Anything That's Rock 'n' Roll" and "Breakdown" were from the band's self-titled debut album, whose cover featured Petty sneering and dressed in black leather. It was released in late 1976. (After the Ramones' debut album, but before debuts by Costello, the Sex Pistols and the Clash).