When we hear Tom Petty, most of us think of Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, the band whose heartland rock sound catapulted Petty and his bandmates, Mike Campbell, Ron Blair, Stan Lynch and Benmont Tench, into fame.
That said, Mudcrutch, a band prior to The Heartbreakers, was the project that put Petty on the musical map. The band broke up in 1975, but reformed in 2007, and in 2008 released their self-titled album, Mudcrutch, a homely, southern-rock collection containing 14 old and new songs.
The album is openly nostalgic, drawing on pastoral themes and the band’s roots in Gainesville, Florida. In the song, “Dreams of Flying” Petty sings, ‘Better roll your window down, and let it go, crashing down the road.’ You feel like the song is taking you on a trip through time, back to youth, to long, hot summers and a sense of early freedom.
It’s as if the band is intentionally trying to take things back a step from Mudcrutch, and even from The Heartbreakers, and remind us of where it all started.
In driving, foot-stomping tracks like “The Other Side of the Mountain,” the banjo and vocal harmonies share a lot of tones typical of Bluegrass and other American roots music.
Even with Tom Petty providing a large part of the vocals, Mike Cammbell’s lead guitar and Tom Leadon’s guitar and vocals make it feel like Petty is stepping back and letting the band roll.
Although 2 does serve as homage to the band’s past, it is definitely clear that several of the band members were also members of The Heartbreakers.
In songs like “Hope,” Benmont Tench’s contribution on the mellotron, organ and piano, harks back to early Heartbreakers days, and songs like, “I Need to Know” from their 1978 album You’re Gonna Get It.
All in all, 2 feels like a smooth blend of the Heartbreakers sound with a re-envisioning of early Mudcrutch, as if they took the best of two worlds, threw them together in a melting pot and said, “Hey, here’s something a little different, but it’s still us.”
The band is currently on tour through California, and will be traveling through Oakland, LA, Santa Ana, and San Diego.