19 August 2014

Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers - Hypnotic Eye


The story of Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers is one that is as old as me.  Formed in 1976, this band has been constantly touring and releasing records with very few line-up changes in between those periods.  This is their thirteen record and it has been doing really well, in the UK it was the first album since 'Into The Great Wide Open' to make the top ten and it was their first album to reach the top of the American Billboard top 100.  With this band is one of the true American pioneers of classic rock.  Together with Bruce Springsteen and Bob Seger, they have fashioned that sound which makes people automatically think of the union over the Atlantic (or Pacific if you’re living in that area).  I am not too sure if I have any strong feelings one way or another towards the band, but I am curious of what makes this one different about this one compared to the rest of their work.

Starting with "American Dream Plan B" it has a retro riff which the band seems to thrive on. It is not faster than the speed of light; it is steady, workman-like, and dependable and will be able to help an American on those long highways travel for hours without too much distraction.  The simplicity of the formula here is exquisite and so easy on the ears.  It is not hard to get wrong, but to get right is sometimes out of the reach of some people.  "Fault Lines" is another song which is as simple as opening an unlocked door, it rocks along and will have the faithful stomping their feet and cheering the band along.  Whilst Petty's voice might not have as much power as in years gone by, but it is still rich in tone as ever.  "Red River" follows on and there is no real change to record here.  It just keeps on the good time going, without really trying to offend one; another good song which keeps up the momentum of the album.  "Full Grown Boy" is a slow, bluesy numbers that is so laid back it could be used to make a table.  Such a simple number, but it is so good as well.

"All You Can Carry" bring the rock back, but it is the first song on the album where my attention seems to drift a bit.  As with the rest of the album, it is rock played at its best; the interaction between the band is brilliant, but it just feels average compared to other tracks on the album.  "Power Drunk" is a much better tune, more subtle and pulsing.  It is another blues heavy number that is so easy on the ears, the guitar work is incredibly well played and it is just a joy to hear.  "Forgotten Man" follows on; this is one of five tracks that have been released from this album.  There is no real change to the formula at this point and the song will have any Tom Petty fan snared in its charm in an instant.  The same cannot be said for "Sins Of My Youth"; this song has a middle western feel about it and (if you pardon the next sentence) it is a true heartbreaker full of regret for the wrongs created many years ago.  It is an island of solitude from the steady rock of the album, it is worth repeat listenings.

"U Get Me High" brings the freeway back into view; this love song towards the person who makes your life much better without having to resort to substance abuse feels like it was made for the road.  It have a driven quality about that makes you forget about the title (Tom, you are not Prince; it is spelt 'You'). "Burnt Out Town" is a 12 bar blues number that does exactly what it says on the tin, does not outstay its welcome and keeps it short and to the point.  It is a great little song that has an infectious boogie about it and leads nicely onto the albums final track - "Shadow People".  This is a very controlled ending to the album, it does not go for the more fast rock opening, and it is all about the tune and solo.  It just finishes the album with a flourish and ends the album perfectly.

When I have been thinking about this album, the words that keep coming up in my head are workman-like, dependable and consistent.  There is not a bad song on this album, even the numbers I am not too keen on are still decent songs.  I will admit that at times the songs seem to blur a little, but overall it is an incredibly positive album.  Is it worth all the hype that is around it?  I am not too sure of that one, only time will tell if it will become a classic in the same way that 'Damn The Torpedoes' has.  But for a band that has been going for all these years, it is good to see that they can still release quality records.

7 out of ten - This is good and well worth a check

Top track - Shadow People

You can purchase the album from Amazon here

You can visit the Tom Petty website here

You can listen to the album on Spotify here

For our Deezer users, here is a link for you

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