Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Album Review: Mudcrutch


(Reprise Records)

Every now and then (particularly when no one is watching), an artist will drop a nugget of an album. In August of 2007, Tom Petty hung out with old friends and bandmates in his pre-Heartbreaker band, Mudcrutch and jammed on a bunch of songs. Some songs were covers, others were originals, and all of them came together to create one of the more natural sounding and musically rewarding albums in Tom Petty's already rich body of work.

Leaning more on the cosmic country rock of The Flying Burrito Brothers, The Byrds and their southern roots spent playing the bar circuit in Florida, Mudcrutch, including Tom Leadon on guitar/vocals, Mike Campbell on lead guitar/mandolin, Randall Marsh on drums, Benmont Tench on keys and Petty on bass/vocals lets songs unfold in a relaxed atmosphere that makes you forget these guys haven't played together as a band in almost three decades.

Album opener “Shady Groove” sets the relaxed country rock pace for the majority of the album and features lead vocals by Leadon with Petty chipping in on the chorus. Lead single “Scare Easy” is a Petty original and would not have sounded out of place on his Wildflowers solo album from the 90s.

Other standout tracks include the swirling psychedelic jam of “Crystal River”, the Crazy Horse guitar of “Lover of the Bayou” (Byrds cover), the bar band rockabilly of “Six Days on the Road” and “Bootleg Flyer” complete with Petty singing in a marbled Southern drawl reminiscent of contemporary rock band Kings of Leon.

Mudcrutch is album begging to be tested on the road (despite rising gas prices) and that’s exactly what we at Harmonious Feedback did. Throwing the album on the I-48 West in San Luis Obispo en route to Highway 1 and lunch in Big Sur, Mudcrutch more than passed our litmus test.

This is a great, breezy summer album. Fire up the BBQ, put the beers on ice and enjoy.

1 comment:

Jim said...

I really enjoyed the first Mudcrutch album. It just has such a fresh sound- something that I haven't heard from Petty for a while. Don't get me wrong, I love most Tom Petty songs, but it seems he kind of lost his energy during the last couple of albums. I really enjoyed "Highway Companion", especially because of his work with Jeff Lynne, but it did seem to lack the sparkle of this Mudcrutch album.

I'm glad the album did well, but I do have to say that I don't agree with the repackaging of the album. I always feel like I'm not getting the whole picture when I buy an album, especially after Petty came out with that expanded edition of "Highway Companion" a few months after the initial release.


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