Perhaps Tom Petty's greatest album with the exception of the ubiquitous Greatest Hits, this is not a Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers album, it's a solo project like Wildflowers. He does enlist several Heartbreakers and Traveling Wilburys on the project, though, and I think that really does make a difference; having backing vocals on-demand, especially the multi-talented and oft-ignored Jeff Lynne, fills out Tom's otherwise Bob Dylan-esque nasal whine and turns it into something you can admire... for example: A Harley-Davidson engine doesn't rumble properly until it's set into the frame of the motorcycle, but then all is well in the universe. Like Tergvinder's Stone, "it's just in the order of things." Other noted contributors to this album include Roy Orbison, George Harrison, Mike Campbell, and Howie Epstein. Because of its timing--coming at the end of the 1980s, but before grunge, you can listen to it, and know that you've found an ending and a beginning.
As soon as you put Full Moon Fever in (or on), you hear that one long, laid-back jangle--the opening chord of Free Fallin'--and you know (or if you don't know, you should know) that you've found the last great high water mark of classic rock. When you realize that the very first song has both a mandolin descant and a grinding electric guitar solo, you will realize that this is not an ordinary album. When he sings about lost innocence and California, even if you grew up in Delaware and you're still an innocent, you know what he's singing about.
The next track was chosen by George W. Bush as campaign music... and Tom told him to back down. Funny headlines abounded. The album goes through all the stages of relationships, but not in order, so you feel like he's talking about this one special girl over and over--he's talking about all girls, every girl. If you're a girl, he's singing to you. If you're a guy, he's singing for you. And he's not just singing about love. He sings about freedom, rebellion, enjoying life, wind in one's hair, alligator farms, and Goths.
So much of the album is anthemy and driving and powerful, but not sappy. It's one of the albums you need to bring along when you go on a road trip. Even if the other person or persons you're going with have it. Even if you know they're bringing their copy. You need to bring it as a totem, an offering of sound to the gods of the open road.
You will tap your feet.
You will sing along, because you know the words.
You will hit cruise control... and rub your eyes.
You will stop at a Waffle House, and the waitress will be cute.
- Free Fallin'
- I Won't Back Down
- Love is a Long Road
- A Face in the Crowd
- Runnin' Down a Dream (CD also features Hello, CD Listeners before track 6)
- Feel a Whole Lot Better
- Yer So Bad
- Depending On You
- The Apartment Song
- Alright for Now
- A Mind with a Heart of its Own
- Zombie Zoo