Full Moon Fever by Tom Petty April 24, 1989
I do believe this is the first-time Mr. Petty has been reviewed on this blog. This album, Full Moon Fever was his first solo effort. I’ll give you a little background. This was the second album I had ever owned. The first was the greatest hits of Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers. I got it for Christmas 1999 from my father. I was going through a Tom Petty phase and really liked his music. I remember the biggest single off this album: Free Fallin’. At the time (I was eleven, so be gentle) I thought this was the greatest album in the world.
The album opens with the aforementioned Free Fallin’. This was a track that lit up the radio in December of 1989 and January of 1990. Not much else to really say about this track, other than it’s a good song to just let it all out. I Won’t Back Down’s the next track and it seems like I’ve heard it long before Mr. Petty sang it. Love is a Long Road is the third track and I want to say that this was a single too, but it may have just been an album cut. The song has a decent bed of synth and guitar. I do know that I vaguely remember hearing it on Pixy 103 when I was a tot. The darkest song on this album is called A Face in the Crowd. The lyrics are forlorn and bittersweet.
Perhaps his other well-known single is next: Runnin’ Down a Dream. The video is well known, as it features Tom as Little Nemo in Slumber Land. The song rocks from the moment it starts with the opening riff. Four minutes and fifty-two seconds later, you want more. The song has tons of hooks and will make you drive down the Mid-Cape Highway at full speed with the windows open and top down (wait, legal just told me that that’s not a good idea.) I remember when the song came out back in either ’89 or ’90; it was on a dump run with my father that I first heard it. Having an eidetic memory can either be a blessing or curse.
A Byrds cover is next with I’ll Feel a Whole Lot Better. Tom had a thing with The Byrds. He seemed to emulate them a lot on this album, which is all right by my standards. The next track which was also a single is called Yer So Bad. The video had a guy in a T-shirt that said “Die Yuppie Scum.” I could agree with that statement. Depending on You is a sleeper track, that quite frankly is somewhat boring. I skipped it to be honest. The Apartment Song is a fun track. Did you know that Stevie Nicks was supposed to sing with Tom on this track? On the Playback box set, there is a demo of this, and it features her vocals. Alright for Now is another track I skip. I never liked the song, it’s too slow and in my opinion shouldn’t have been included here.
A Mind with a Heart of its Own is another rocking number. You’ll want to turn this one up and rock out to it. Reminds me of getting ready to fight a surly customer at the liquor store I used to work at (hey, he swung first.) Or the song could remind one of going to the beach, hitting the trail or whatever tickles your fancy. Finally, the album closes with a fun number called Zombie Zoo. Zombie Zoo is one of those songs that would be perfect for Halloween. Too bad Halloween is nine months away from now, but I can guarantee you I’ll be spinning it.
Is it shit?
Since this is Tom Petty’s first solo work, I’m going to give him leniency. This album is not perfect and certainly is not shit. Yes, there are two tracks I didn’t dig, but every album has those at some point or another. Everyone knows Free Fallin’ and Runnin’ Down a Dream, but there are a couple of sleeper songs on here that every fan of Petty should at least know. Yer So Bad and A Face in the Crowd are two deep, almost obscure Petty singles. For a moment in 1990, these two songs got radio airplay, but they didn’t have the staying power that Free… and Runnin’… do. That’s what I like about deep album cuts. Perhaps I’ll do a list of my favorites later.