MCA’s reissue of the Heartbreakers albums from ’79 to ’82 is a perfect chance to revisit this album. I’ve always felt this is arguably the best rock album of the past 25 years. Yes, that’s a bold statement, but when you hear the amazing mix of rock and pop, the great songwriting, a brilliant band at its peak, the top-flight vocals of Tom Petty, and Mike Campbell’s searing guitar, it’s hard to think of one to top it.
Have there been many singles as full of emotion as “Refugee?” And how many “rock” bands could do as perfect a pop song as “Don’t Do Me Like That?” Who can’t feel a glimmer of recognition when you hear “Here Comes My Girl,” or “Even the Losers.” Brilliant songs that everyone can identify with. Does rock get much better than “What Are You Doin’ In My Life?” I don’t think so. And there’s even a perfect country/rock tune to close things out, “Louisiana Rain.” Through it all, Campbell shows himself to be as good a rock guitarist as you want. Not flashy, but very creative, and a guy who can give a song just what it needs. One of the great rock players.
Needless to say, you’ve got to have this. If you’re young and not yet into Mr. Petty and the Heartbreakers, get this one. Priced as a bargain CD, it’s the best money you’ll spend on music. If you’re an older fan and haven’t picked up the CD, do so now. One listen will make you remember why you loved this one in the first place.
This article originally appeared in VG‘s Aug. ’01 issue. All copyrights are by the author and Vintage Guitar magazine. Unauthorized replication or use is strictly prohibited.