"Wildflowers" (143/Warner Records; 1994)

Reviewed by Snidermann

I wish my wife could get past Tom Petty's vocals so she can appreciate the great music he made. But she can't ... and I get it. But now, as I listen to Petty's second solo album, the 1994 release "Wildflowers," it's easy for me to see just how great Tom Petty really was. And I want her to know it, too!

"Wildflowers" is simple, in-your-face rock'n'roll with no overdubs, no orchestra and no multiple vocals parts. It's just Tom Petty. It's rock'n'roll music the way he wanted to make it and how it was meant to be.

Another album produced by the legendary Rick Rubin (who has produced giants like The Beastie Boys, Neil Diamond, Johnny Cash, Slipknot, Metallica, Liknkin Park, AC/DC, Slayer ... and that's just to name a few), "Wildflowers" is stripped-down, easily accessible rock'n'roll. It sounds just like you were watching Petty play in a small town dive bar with a large cold one in front of you, the music not so loud that you can't hear the person beside you but loud enough for you to really get into its groove.

There are fifteen tracks on this recording and they are all full of life, piss and vinegar, and the good ol' US of A.

Tom Petty was the folk singer of this day and age: The Peter, Paul and Mary, Simon and Garfunkel and Bob Dylan of the late 20th century. Just making music the way he wanted to, having fun and hanging out with his friends, drinking and smoking and playing music the way he wanted. He will forever be missed.

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"Damn the Torpedos" (Backstreet Records; 1979)

Reviewed by Snidermann

I have been a Tom Petty fan since I first heard their 1979 release "Damn The Torpedoes." My cousin spun the album for me and I was instantly hooked. Tom Petty's vocal style is something that must be savored like a fine wine. Frankly, it's not good. However, what he lacks in vocal finesse is more than made up for in song construction and composition. He is simply one of the best songwriters in rock'n'roll history.

Of course, this recording has the hits you (still) hear on FM radio ("Refugee," "Here Comes My Girl" and "Even The Losers." However, what you don't hear nearly as often are the deep cuts. Outstanding music that—if you don't own the recording (or subscribe to a streaming service)—you simply never hear.

Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers were just a bunch of guys from Florida that played music. That in itself is something (not the Florida part, but the playing music part). They simply got the job done! High quality music that delivers on every level, from sappy love songs to upbeat tunes that make you want to drink beer or, in Petty's own words (from another album) "Let’s roll another joint."

I, like a fool, did not see him in Los Angeles a few years ago when I had the chance and now, of course, he's no longer with us. That will stick with me for the rest of my life. But Petty left behind a huge catalog of some great fucking music. Rock'n'Roll as it should be: simple, easy to listen to, singable (if that's what you want), relatable and fun.

Rating "Damn the Torpedoes" is like rating "The Shining" or "The Hobbit" ... but, alas I must: 4 guitarsaws and if I could go fucking higher I would. RIP, friend Tom. Your music will never be forgotten and as long as is up and running, your music will be appreciated.

The Heartbreakers: Tom Petty, Mike Campbell, Benmont Tench, Stan Lynch and Ron Blair.

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Rating Guide:

A classic. This record will kick your ass.

Killer. Not a classic but it will rock your world.

So-so. You've heard better.

Pretty bad. Might make a nice coaster.

Self explanatory. Just the sight of the cover makes you wanna hurl.

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