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Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers – Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers (1976)

November 27, 2016


Unbelievable USA logo by Sarca @ caughtmegaming

USA Artists (so far): Aimee Mann, Marty Robbins, D’Angelo, The Modern Lovers, Bruce Springsteen, Missy “Misdemeanor” Elliott, Steely Dan, Grant Lee Buffalo, 2Pac, Harry Nilsson, Linkin Park, Willie Nelson, Emmylou Harris, Randy Newman, The Monkees, Liz Phair, The Byrds, Anita Baker, Circle Jerks, Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers


[Album 499/1001]

“He plays fast, but he never rushes”
– My colleague Mike, quoting someone else (whom I’ve since forgotten) that was praising Tom Petty. Talk about proper bibliography formatting!

As I type, I’ve got the Penguins/Devils* game playing in the background.**

And I’ve realized something: my favourite Pittsburgh Penguin not-named-Sidney Crosby might be Matt Cullen.

Born in the USA on November 2, 1976, Cullen is still one of the most reliable & consistent players in the NHL.

He’s not flashy but he plays to his strengths; with his linemates, he always plays an high-tempo, tight-checking game.

Though you may not see too many fans wearing his jersey, he’s among the most respected athletes in the league.

Even though he celebrated his 40th birthday early this month, he’s a very fast skater, yet his decision-making with the puck never seems rushed.

Terms like underrated & underappreciated spring to mind.



I’ve had a second realization: my favourite 70s solo artist not-named-David Bowie might be Tom Petty.

His first album, Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, was released on November 9, 1976 (one week off, so close!). This self-titled debut marked the beginning of a remarkabl220px-tompettydebutcovery consistent career, and he remains among the most reliable performers in the music industry.

Petty is never flashy but he plays to his strengths; with his bandmates, The Heartbreakers, the performances are up-tempo & the song arrangements are always tight.

Though you may not see too many fans wearing his T-shirts, he’s among the most respected musicians in the business.

As this album celebrated its 40th Anniversary earlier this month, terms like underrated & underappreciated still somehow spring to mind.

Finally, especially on tunes like American Girl heard here, Tom Petty proves he is more than deserving of the post-opening compliment: he plays fast, but never rushes.


*The New Jersey Devils, or as David Puddy would say, The Devils, The Devils! (thanks W for the reminder :D)

**Good news, Pittsburgh ended up winning 4-3 in a shootout!


Verbalize the Positive

I appreciate that Zack @ The Audible Stew introduced me to his Smoke on the Water Principle (SWP). The SWP theory, where an artist wisely chooses to play a simple yet effective riff instead of an elaborate one, would certainly apply to Tom Petty. I imagine countless people have picked up an acoustic guitar and Free Fallin’ was among the first tunes they played.

Also, like Matt Cullen & Tom Petty, though Zack may type quickly, his writing never feels rushed!

From → 1970s

  1. Zack permalink

    Thanks for the shout out!

  2. Petty has a real chill vibe that comes across in his tunes. Even the rock stuff man he chills but it still rocks if that makes any sense!

  3. Cullen is excellent. I’d still pick Malkin, myself…

    Of all the Petty albums, that one makes this list! INTERESTING! It’s a great record, don’t get me wrong. But the guy has so many… gah, I don’t think I’d want the job of choosing albums for that book. Nope. No way. That way lies headaches and indecision.

    • A fine choice as well!
      I’d put Malkin more as an Elton John, when he’s on, he’s off the charts, but perhaps not as consistent.

      I like to think of the 1 album being almost a tip of the hat to Petty’s consistency, ‘you like this album – chances are you’ll like the rest’ rather than ‘the rest are meh, stick with this one.’

      Because if it were truly the ‘best’ 1001 albums, there would be some major oversights!

  4. Giggling at 70s solo artist “not-named David Bowie”. I can’t think of Tom Petty as a 70s artist. Something very contemporary about him, or perhaps timeless. American Girl would sound fresh if it was released in the 1990s or 2000s. Btw, are there any Traveling Wilburys albums on the 1001? I’d love to get one of their albums!

    • Agreed about Tom Timeless Petty!
      No Wilburys on the list alas but that’s perhaps another case of him being overlooked by more ‘star’ performers, I’d imagine he’d be at least the third person mentioned when asked, “who was in the Traveling Wilburys?” I bet most would say Dylan & Harrison before getting to Petty!

  5. I vaguely remember their music, but GH and Petty did all the promotion, and Roy Orbison had just died. He’s one of my favourite voices, so I think of him as one of the top 3 too! Petty and GH are more collaborative musicians than the others, I think. Traveling Wilburys are one of the supergroups that actually worked as a concept!

  6. I like Tom Petty but his albums have always disappointed me, a few tracks at most for me on each one. Love American Girl.

  7. 40 years! Good grief, eh? It’s strange, cause I became aware of him in the 90s and have always viewed his albums as being from that era (even though I knew they weren’t). I like a lot of his stuff, but I’m not familiar with many of his albums (which is also strange).

    • Oh I bet a game of ‘name the year of release’ for Tom Petty would be next to impossible – he’s so consistent I wouldn’t be able to spot a ’76 from a ’96.
      Which is a nice problem I suppose, that he’s consistently solid!

  8. Breakdown was my favorite song of that album (no fast playing there, but I wouldn’t exactly call it a ballad either). I wonder if it aged well, I haven’t heard it in a while. I think Tom Petty is always right on the spot, or a little ahead of its time, but, looking back, perhaps some of his songs have not aged that well. However, I think he’s one of the coolest people ever.

    • I found this record held up pretty well at least, no ill-advised ‘of its time’ instrumentation or anything that soundy cheesy to my ears.
      I’ll second the vote for his effortless cool!

Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. Wilco – Being There (1996) | 1001albumsin10years
  2. Bon Jovi – Slippery When Wet (1986) | 1001albumsin10years
  3. Bon Jovi – Slippery When Wet (1986) | 1001albumsin10years
  4. 1976 | 1001albumsin10years

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