Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers (1976)

1. Rockin' Around (With You) 2. Breakdown 3. Hometown Blues 4. The Wild One, Forever 5. Anything That's Rock 'N' Roll 6. Strangered in the Night 7. Fooled Again (I Don't Like It) 8. Mystery Man 9. Luna 10.American Girl


Depending on your point of view of Tom Petty, you could argue that he was either a guy that first appeared as a bit of a bizarre character in the field of rock and roll that would one day become somewhat of a legend, or, that he was a badly needed breath of fresh air in the music business during the mid 1970s. Art Rock and Disco seemed to dominate the scene, and American Punk rock was just starting to breakout as a nasty response to the state of the business. Tom Petty was none of the above.

This guy was about as simple and unassuming as one could be. The tall, lanky, somewhat sardonic southerner was only interested in picking up a guitar with his buddies (known as "The Heartbreakers") and cranking out some very simple rock and roll songs that mirrored what he listened to growing up in the sixties. True, it would be a couple of years before most people would take notice, but the fact that a guy like this could win over the hearts of so many millions (and think about it - does anyone not like Tom Petty??) is one of the greatest success stories in the history of rock and roll. To put it another way, you would never see a guy like this be successful at something like American Idol. That's a good thing. A very good thing.

This album is so fresh, so spontaneous, that it's almost impossible not to immediately be drawn to it. At barely 30 minutes in length, you can't argue that it's trying to even be the least bit pretentious. About the only thing pretentious is the album cover, which seems to insinuate that this is one of those new punk rock artists. But if you look at the guy's expression on the cover, you can almost sense that Petty's smirk is telling the record buyer not to take this image too seriously.

Yes, Petty was always a rebel. This label would get him in trouble many different times with the music industry powers-that-be, but fortunately, most of that anger was never in his music (at least not in the early days, anyway). Plus, he kept his venom channeled as to not offend the easily offended. Songs like American Girl, Anything That's Rock and Roll, Hometown Blues, and, the best thing on here, Breakdown are just simple tunes that are so well crafted, that you easily and quickly are drawn towards after just a couple of listens.

Some of the tracks here sound like he's trying a bit too hard (Luna, for example - you know, about the moon?), but overall, he keeps the whole record simple, free flowing and memorable. It's not at all difficult to imagine when hearing this record that there would be a lot of great things to come from this artist in the future.

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