Classic Album – Tom Petty – Full Moon Fever (CD review)

Tom Petty – Full Moon Fever (1989) – CD review –

Full Moon Fever is Tom Petty’s best collection of songs, and it’s also his first solo outing outside his band, the Heartbreakers.  After seven LP’s, Petty decided to go it alone, but he smartly keeps one element of his band intact in guitarist Mike Campbell.  His slinky solos are the one holdover from his previous albums.  By enlisting former ELO guru Jeff Lynne to produce the album, Petty ensured that it would sound nothing like the jangly, roots rock of his past.

In truth, the album sounds closer to the Traveling Wilburys, which Lynne helmed the year before: robotic drums and processed guitars; this is slick rock at it’s finest.  Everything works here, from the opening anthemic “Free Fallin,’” to the excellent driving tune “Runnin’ Down a Dream,” to the goofy, countrified “Yer So Bad.”  Perhaps, outside of his band setting, Petty doesn’t have to conform to what he’s supposed to sound like.  He can stretch a little, as in the eerie “A Face in the Crowd.”  There’s even room for him to pay his debt to the Byrds, in his cover of “I’ll Feel a Whole Lot Better.”  Oddly, Petty would invite Lynne back to produce his next album with the Heartbreakers, Into the Great Wide Open. Sonically, it would sound exactly like this album, showing how strong a force Lynne was as a producer. –Tony Peters