sparky on the new tom petty record
My friend Sparky just emailed me with his reaction to the new Tom Petty album, The Last DJ:
Tom Petty is mad as hell, and he's not going to take it any more.
Most of Petty's new disc, THE LAST DJ, is devoted to a stinging indictment of the music industry (with tracks like "The Last DJ," "Money Becomes King," "Have Love Will Travel," "Joe," "Dreamville" and "Can't Stop the Sun"). "Money Becomes King" is a particularly scathing and hilarious bit of satire. The only thing missing is a cover of Elvis Costello's "Radio Radio." The tracks not devoted to this topic blast other social evils or tell tales of loss and recrimination. Love songs need not apply.
While the thematic content is uniform, the musical tones and styles of the album remain varied, which prevents THE LAST DJ from falling into the kind of monotone rut that weakened Springsteen's THE RISING. Petty's tunesmithing here is as skilled as it was on WILDFLOWERS and ECHO -- which is to say, among the best of his career. The title track and "Like a Diamond" are as good as anything Petty's ever given us.
Petty's longstanding status as a record industry dissident is well-earned. Still, you have to admire the courage and personal integrity that went into recording an album so pugnacious. My only concern is how well such a narrowly themed record will age. That aside, this is one of the best albums I've heard this year.