The Last D.J. (2002)


 
1. The Last D.J. 2. When Money Becomes King 3. Dreamville 4. Joe 5. When a Kid Goes Bad 6. Like a Diamond 7. Lost Children 8. Blue Sunday 9. You and Me 10.The Man Who Loves Women 11.Have Love Will Travel 12.Can't Stop the Sun

 

Man, is Tom Petty pissed off. Throughout his career, Petty gained a lot of respect by championing for the underdog in the music business without sounding overly political. He would let people know his thoughts and feelings without cramming his message down everyone's throat. On this record, you could say that his polite protest phase was gone. This is not necessarily a concept album, but there are a handful of songs here that illustrate the demise of the music industry by the turn of the century, and what it's done to radio, the artists and, sadly, the fans.

The opening title cut, music wise, is harmless enough. He doesn't hide his feelings, though, and laments the fact that disc jockeys, once a prominent part of radio and the young artists, have been basically replaced by corporate greed and obedient yes-men and women. The individualism is now gone. The best statement around this topic is the second song, Money Becomes King, which has Petty telling us a cute (but depressing) musical narrative of Johnny the upcoming star, and how his concerts have been forced to change due to the pursuit of the almighty dollar. The narrative follows his fans who are now subjected to lip syncing, waiters serving wine, golden circle and lite beer commercials - all at a supposed rock show. Sadly, Petty really drops the ball on Joe, a song about a CEO who's only in it for the money. Calling this a "song" is a bit too much of a compliment - it's more of a bitter rant that has minimal musical quality. Definitely not one of the album's strong points.

So concept songs out of the way, the rest of the album is devoted to what one would consider a normal set of Tom Petty songs. None of the others really seem to fit in with the concept of greed in the music business, although you could argue that the closing song Can't Stop the Sun is a testimony of fortitude for artists everywhere. He seems to revert a bit back to his sixties influence, and the latter half of the album seems to have regained what his last record, Echo, had lost. In other words, he sounds like "himself" again. The songs are a mixed bag - all of the songs are good, with some being great (Dreamville is the best, and probably the most overlooked thing here, and Like a Diamond is very sweet as well). Sometimes, the themes are a bit too heavy on songs such as When a Kid Goes Bad and Lost Children, but the real sin is that these songs, with just about everything on the latter half of the records, seems to have been swallowed up by the themes that penetrate the first few songs on the record.

All of this to say that this is the Tom Petty album that will probably be more remembered for his stance and statements, and not so much about the majority of the music. A bit of a shame since some of the music here is quite good.

Back To Main Page
Go To Next Review