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Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers
Hypnotic Eye
Reprise/Warner Bros.
Rolling Stone: star rating
Community: star rating
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By Jon Dolan
July 29, 2014
When Tom Petty emerged in the mid-Seventies, he was the perfect down-to-earth rock star for the times: a
hungry Southern boy playing tight rock & roll in mellow Southern California, kicking against the eras soft-
bellied complacency with hard-jangling realness. On Hypnotic Eye, the 63-year-old and his eternal
Heartbreakers return to the scrappy heat of those early days with their toughest, most straight-up rocking
record in many years, deepened by veteran perspective. "I feel like a four letter word," Petty sings on
"Forgotten Man," which sounds like "American Girl" remade as a Bo Diddley roof-rumbler. You can be
sure as shit that four letter word isnt "darn" or "rats"
Hypnotic Eye took three years to make, but it often sounds like buddies out on a weekend garage-jam
bender. Its especially reminiscent of their first two records, 1976s Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers and
1978s Youre Gonna Get It!, before they hit on the crystal- line polish of 1979s Damn the Torpedoes. Its
also of a piece with the foundational vibe of 2008s Mudcrutch, where Petty convened the country-rock
band he and two future Heartbreakers (guitarist Mike Campbell and keyboardist Benmont Tench) played
in Florida in the early Seventies before they hit L.A.
Yet there are few, if any, attempts to reenact Pettys vintage hits. This is the Heartbreakers four decades and
a million shows later, deepening their attack with sturdy reliability. On "Faultlines," Petty and Campbell
exchange snarling guitar phrases against a swamp-boogie swing from drummer Steve Ferrone and bassist
4
Ron Blair. On "Red River," the bands trademark Byrdsy shimmer comes with extra crunch and desert
horizon beauty. Sometimes the intensity doesnt even need to be loud, as with the subdued "Full Grown
Boy," where Tench plays jazz-shaded piano and Petty pushes his voice into a relaxed croon for the wee
small hours.
Petty populates these urgent songs with a cast of desperate dreamers, zealots, doomed lovers, loose cannons
and alienated zombies like the woman in "Red River" stockpiling powerless religious talismans, the
doomsaying town crier in the highway rocker "All You Can Carry," or Petty himself in the forebodingly
caustic "Shadow People," wondering what role he can play "in my time of need, in my time of grief."
The most sympathetic of these characters is the defiant freefaller in "American Dream Plan B," clinging to
hope against all evidence. "My success is anybodys guess/But like a fool Im betting on happiness," Petty
sings over acrid blasts of distortion. You can imagine the guy hearing this song on his car radio and using it
to steel himself for lifes next knee in the grapes. When the God touched chorus kicks in, full of Pettys
ringing chords and Campbells psychedelic fuzz, its like a backslap of brotherly reassurance. If a Katy
Perry song had come on the radio, he mightve swerved into oncoming traffic. But not today. Tom Petty
has saved drive time once again, just like hes been doing since he was a cranky young man himself.
Related
Hear Tom Petty's Old-School Rocker 'American Dream Plan B'- Premiere
Hear Tom Petty's Blistering New Songs 'U Get Me High' and 'Red River'
Tom Petty's Maximum Rock & Roll: The Heartbreakers Hit the Studio
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Eric Clapton and Friends, 'The Breeze: An Appreciation of JJ Cale '
Album Review Main
MUSIC 9 Classic Devo Videos
4
MOVIES Philip Seymour Hoffman, R.I.P.
TV The Romance of 'House of Cards'
OLYMPICS 18 Epic Opening Ceremonies
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COMMENTS
Sort by: Most Recent
Nick Khoury |45 minutes ago
| Rating: star rating
Flag Comment
Tom just keeps going! This is a great addition to an already impressive body of work.
Benjamin Garrett |1 hour, 0 minutes ago
| Rating: star rating
Flag Comment
I'm quite impressed with the TPATH on this one. I'm a tried and true early 90's Petty fan, but of
course love the cuts from the 70's/80's. I think this record brings a new sound to the discography,
throws back to the old-school sounds, and ultimately satisfies the hardcore fans, casual listeners, and
absolutely does not offend the touch and go listeners.
Dig it!
Juan Martinez Puig |6 hours, 50 minutes ago
| Rating: star rating
Flag Comment
An instant classic with some very impressive lyrics and a cool guitar riffs. They sound as young as
they were in the early 80s but with far more experience!
John Troulis |6 hours, 54 minutes ago
| Rating: star rating
Flag Comment
Listen to it! I like it more everyday (for 3 days). TP grows on you. I can't imagine a rock fan not
liking this band. The Heartbreakers are incredible. My top 3 behind Queen & Zeppelin.
Wayne Payton |13 hours, 59 minutes ago
| Rating: star rating
Flag Comment
The only good thing that Tom Petty has ever been a part of was The Wilbury's (lucky to even be
included in that) other than that he's a middle of the road Dylan wanna be.
Kirk Angell |July 29, 7:01 PM ET
| Rating: star rating
Flag Comment
I have loved TP & HB for decades now, having first seen them as a teenager on their Long After
Dark tour. The majority of their albums are about 3/4's classic with a clunker or two, and this one is
in that same ballpark. But the 3/4's that's great is as great or nearly-as-great as his best. That's pretty
remarkable for a band & a songwriter with so many tunes. "Fault Lines" sounds notably different
from anything in his vast catalog, and is probably my favorite on the album. Again, that's a
remarkable thing to say at this point in his career. "Red River" is classic melancholy Petty;
unfortunately, a couple songs later "All You Can Carry" is pretty much the exact same vocal line
with different lyrics and a nice riff in between each stanza. Still, Petty & the boys have earned the
right to coast a little now and then. I ordered the Blu-Ray edition with the 5.1 surround sound mix,
and it's nice that Petty still cares about High-Resolution audio. A few more points for that; and he
even thanks the consumer for caring about the audio in the liner notes. Thank you, Tom, for
continuing to offer quality on so many levels after all these years. I'll never stop listening.
John DeCarlo |July 29, 5:28 PM ET
| Rating: star rating
Flag Comment
It s a good album but there are no instant classics nor recognizable melodies at first listen. I love Tom
Petty but his last two albums dont have the same "Mojo" as usual, although hes a true legend and
does not need to prove anything at this point. I'm Spanish and I will travel this year to Los Angeles to
see him live at The Forum. Cant wait to make this dream come true.
John DeCarlo |July 29, 5:15 PM ET
| Rating: star rating
Flag Comment
It s a good album but there are no instant classics nor recognizable melodies at first listen. I love Tom
Petty but his last two albums dont have the same "Mojo" as usual, although hes a true legend and
does not need to prove anything at this point. I'm Spanish and I will travel this year to Los Angeles to
see him live at The Forum. Cant wait to make this dream come true
Derrick Patterson |July 29, 3:45 PM ET
| Rating: star rating
Flag Comment
Really digging his album. My favorite Heartbreakers release since Into The Great Wide Open and my
favorite music Tom has put out since Wildflowers. Great grooves all over the place between Steve
and Ron while Mike rips it up with his tasty licks. Can't wait for Raleigh show in September.
Chuck Ungar |July 29, 12:17 PM ET
| Rating: star rating
Flag Comment
Great album but the comments I've read about it resembling the first two Heartbreakers albums are
strange. The sound is much more blues and traditional rock based. Nothing close to the classic power
pop of the first two.
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