Monday, May 31, 2010
I bought Tom Petty's 4CD Live Anthology box a couple of months back (I saw it in Target for $22 and couldn't pass it up), and it's fantastic. The songs were recorded at shows in 1980-83, 1986-87, 1993, 1995, 1997, 2002-3 and 2005-6, and the band is so damn tight, even with a change of drummers, that it could all be one epic gig.
Now I've heard a few songs from the forthcoming album Mojo (out 6/15), and it appears the live-rock fervor has hit Petty in a big way, because the album was recorded live in the studio, with everyone playing in one room. I admire the cussedness of that; I like that Petty has stopped caring about anything but making records he's happy with. It's obvious to anyone who gives it a moment's thought that he's not gonna have a Top Forty hit, and I like that it's obvious to him. He's made a record that his existing fan base—folks who admire rock music as a craft—are gonna respond to, and he's gonna support it on tour. He's got a circa-2010 merch strategy for the record and the tour; if you buy a ticket, you get a digital download of the album on the day of release, and when the tour's over you can download eight live tracks. I think it's working; a lot of tickets to a lot of shows are gone already. (If I want to see him in New York—and I do—I'm gonna have to round up a review assignment from somewhere.)
I've only ever listened to one Tom Petty album, Full Moon Fever, all the way through. I really don't need to hear the cranky-old-man routine he cut loose with on The Last DJ. But his greatest hits disc is pretty much unassailable. And as demonstrated in the video above, the band kicks ass. I think I'm gonna buy his new album.