“We’re gonna take you back to the fabulous 1970s, where men were men and women were wild.”
When Petty said these words it was between songs at a concert in Pennsylvania, where Tom Petty and his music were as high as the moon, dealing out old favorites with new flare and trying out new tunes with that old feel.
This old feel is exactly what Tom Petty delivers in his 17th studio release entitled “The Last DJ.” The one thing on Petty’s mind during the making of this album is nostalgia, with “Dreamville” as probably the most poignant example of how he longs to be back in the ’70s and not in a world run by money and corporations.
The title and opening track “The Last DJ” tells the story of a man who used to play the music he loved but was forced off the air because of corporate pressure. “The Last DJ” chooses to leave his job rather than sell out while a “Roxanne”-esque guitar strums the chorus.
The album forms a cohesive concept based on this anti-corporate propaganda. “Joe” is a ballsy tune about a CEO of a company who is looking for a pretty face to make him a fast dollar.
The piano, sounding like it’s Elton John with 10 pound fingers, mixes with the distorted guitar to make sure you understand the anger behind the song.
“Lost Children,” a bitchin’ song if I do say so myself, mixes a pure rock ‘n’ roll riff with church hymn-like verses.
They don’t forget to show the power of the Heartbreakers with a jam featuring the swirling B3 organ work of Benmont Tench and the screaming lead guitar by Mike Campbell.
Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers called on George Drakoulias again to produce the album, along with Petty himself and Mike Campbell. Drakoulias was the producer on “Wildflowers” and also worked with The Black Crowes on two albums.
An added cameo appearance by Lindsey Buckingham of Fleetwood Mac on “The Man Who Loves Women” seems to serve as the intermission of the album just before Petty brings it all together in the last song.
“Can’t Stop The Sun” is the culmination of the album. This is Petty’s chance to admonish the “top brass” by telling them that they “can’t stop the sun from shining [or] the world from turning.”
Petty and Campbell co-wrote the music to this track which ascended, in my mind, to the best track on the album. A break in the song brings the melodies of the Beatles and the phase guitar sound mixed with that swirling B3 capture the theme of the song ? an unending, unstoppable, circular motion.
You can catch Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers at Madison Square Garden in New York City on Dec. 13, before our lovely finals. And you can pick up the album in stores anywhere. I suggest a local business like Record Archive or Fantastic Records. I think the band would like that.
Salko can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.