Friday, June 18, 2010

tom petty and the heartbreakers "mojo" review

i can usually go for weeks at a time without a new album (the last one, in fact, was the reissued rolling stones "exile on main st."). so it was something of a surprise to walk out of j&r music with two albums on tuesday: the steve miller band's "bingo!" plus tom petty and the heartbreakers' "mojo." miller's first new studio release in 18 years was practically a rarity! but even with an 8 year gap since the petty and the hearbreakers' 20o2 "the last dj," "mojo" is a surprise in the wake of the monster multiple cd, "live anthology," last fall!

petty and the heartbreakers previewed two of the songs, "jefferson jericho blues" and "i should have known," on saturday night live last month. the album has an additional 13 tracks, and a running time of just over an hour. contrasted with miller's 10 tracks, clocking in at just over 30 minutes, petty is giving fans the bigger bang for our collective bucks. in a similar vein, miller issued an album of covers, petty cranked out all new material for this release. i'm a long time fan of steve miller, but petty clearly has his fans in mind with generous content.

the music itself cover a lot of ground, blues, jams, reggae infused, and a hard driving classic rock throwback. my favorite number without question is "i should have known," which channels led zeppelin. mike campbell lets loose his inner jimmy page and really fires up a pair of solos. petty does a workman's job of bringing to life plant's lament, but the song belongs to campbell. the other song of note, "first flash of freedom," conjures up the dead with its elongated jams (actually it reminded me more of phish or, stretching, tea leaf green).

petty himself, in interviews suggested the album has an almost allman brothers feel. but the first cut, "jefferson jericho blues," with scott thurston on the harmonica, is all heartbreakers. and, as noted over and over - everywhere it seems - petty sounds so much like dylan these days that their voices are practically indistinguishable at times! look no further than petty's raspy voice "u.s. 41" - a twangy bit of rockabilly, or the more bluesy "takin my time."

there's a reggae infused paen to marijuana in the lamenting "don't pull me over." it could be a quieter coda to straightforward petty rocker, "mary jane's last dance." although, mary jane isn't the only intoxicant covered on this album. "high in the morning" is alcohol infused with lyrics like, "boy that bottle belongs to the devil/better leave it on the shelf." without the campbell electric grooves on that one, "high in the morning" is all county!

there is a lot of variety on "mojo." it also has a classic stripped down sound - thanks to skipping the overdubs in the studio. as petty explained, the album highlights the heartbreakers and their contributions to the sound. in that regard, works - and works well. check it out.

here is the track list:

1. jefferson jericho blues
2. first flash of freedom
3. running man’s bible
4. the trip to pirate’s cove
5. candy
6. no reason to cry
7. i should have known it
8. u.s. 41
9. takin’ my time
10. let yourself go
11. don’t pull me over
12. lover’s touch
13. high in the morning
14. something good coming
15. good enough

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