Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers – Mojo

Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers - MojoTom Petty and the HeartbreakersMojo (Reprise)

Hot off the class-reunion jam of Mudcrutch, Tom Petty attempts to bring a similar sense of noodling over to the Heartbreakers. The most glaring question, considering the bands under-appreciated keep-it-simple-stupid approach on record and cole slaw grind on stage, is “Why?”

With that sense of “Let’s ring up the fellas and play guitar awhile” approach out of the picture with Mojo, Petty’s twelfth album with the Heartbreakers sounds like lazy meanderings and the most uninspired collection of songs in his otherwise impressive catalog.

It’s clear that the time with Mudcrutch, road work with the Black Crowes, and the stark reality that Petty and the Heartbreakers are at a point where they should be a handsomely rewarded, perennial touring unit at this point, the band seems to be carefully considering life as a jam band. The shitty thing is—even with these reportedly first and second take songs—the Heartbreakers sound stiff and anemic throughout Mojo.

There are no wrong notes, no derring-do, nothing to suggest the performances wrinkled anyone’s shirts or brought a sweat to the brow of those involved.

Take the song that comes close to raising a pulse, “I Should Have Known It.” New drummer the dude-who-isn’t-Stan-Lynch, kicks out a big, wide open beat while Petty and Mike Campbell work out a snaky pattern on guitar. It’s wonderful on paper and well performed, so why does the band sound like they’re counting the measures to the abrupt stops before the chorus.

“US 41” tries hard to stir up some Delta snarl, but even with Campbell’s wonderfully toned slide guitar and Petty’s distorted vocals for an antiquated effect, the song is delivered so monochromatically that the color blue is nowhere near it.

But nothing will prepare you for the absolutely worst Tom Petty song of all time, a track so embarrassingly bad that you’ll prey for Jeff Lynne to burst in to start an intervention. The song is “Don’t Pull Me Over,” performed in the same ballpark of Eric Clapton‘s “I Shot The Sherriff,” only an exclusively white ballpark. Yes, it’s a reggae-infused song about driving high and seeing a cop in the rear-view window and yes, it’s worse than you could possibly imagine.

Around this point, you’ll inevitably come to realize that you’ve breezed through a good chunk of time to get to “Don’t Pull Me Over” and the album still has a few more time requirements. Whether or not you choose to spend them with the rest of Mojo is a matter for consideration, but it’s something you don’t normally experience on Heartbreakers albums.

Because Mojo fails on another level, and it’s the ability to get it done in a nice, efficient manner. It carries on and on, to a point where it goes beyond authenticity and hovers right around the avenue of self-indulgence. It possesses none of the virile passion its title would suggest and is a flaccid attempt at trying to sound loose while sounding too uptight to even get it up.

Video: Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers – “Jefferson Jericho Blues”

Video: Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers – “Something Good Coming”

Video: Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers – “I Should Have Known It”

Tom Petty: iTunes, Amazon, Insound, wiki

17 thoughts on “Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers – Mojo”

  1. With that facial hair, he looks like he’s trying to channel The Dude. Shame this album sucks llama dick.

  2. Check out Mike Campbell’s mop too. It’s like he and the bass vocalist from the Oak Ridge Boys are under the impression that we actually believe their hair is that black at their age.

  3. you guys are haters u would not know music if it jumed up and smacked you in the face. Tom Petty is a artist his music is great always has been and always will be.

  4. Hey Tboggs – I’m glad to see those English and writing classes paid off for you. Actually, the guys that run and contribute to this website know quite a bit about “music” as you so eloquently put it.

    What happens when music smacks you in the face?

  5. I think it will go down as an experiment not gone bad, but mediocre. It’s interesting to know what the boys like to jam to wen they’re not really rehearsing. And it’s nowhere near as bad as The Last DJ.

    On another note – a friend of mine suggested TP is ill. Any ideas about that, anyone?

  6. Seem like the people who don’t like “MOJO” still stuck in the 80’s & 90’s. PLEASE… Get over you’re self. Tom Petty did great job in switching things up for once. And to the stupid critic, no wonder you are a nothing happing son of a plumber, because buddy let me tell you, “don’t pull me over” is one of my favorite… So what it’s not you’re typical TP song?


  7. Wow – and I thought I was getting kind of personal when I went after Todd over the Ted Leo review a few months ago. I still feel bad about that one because it was JUST a review – opinion piece.

    Just because a band or an artist is someone’s “favorite” doesn’t mean that they are immune to any and all criticism from the outside world. I bow to Neil Young for many reasons, but I’ll stand up and shout when he puts out crap – which has happened on more than one occasion in his career.

    Lighten up. Tom Petty is great. Maybe just not this time.

  8. I’m still trying to figure out what a “nothing happing son of a plumber” means. My drummer is a son-of-a-plumber, but… I don’t think he’s ever been happing before. Although I met him after college, so… maybe in his past. You think you know a guy, and then it turns out they’ve been happing behind your back for years. Probably with plumbers too.


    Y’know, albums usually *are* good people. Sure, there’s a few bad apples, but they’re the exceptions that prove the rule.

    God, I hope GloNo has once again poked t’s mitts into a hornet’s nest because the resulting comments are always fantastic.

  10. This cd just seems liefless for the most part,im not stuck in the 90’s but my goodness is this the same guy that put out wildflowers?

  11. Sorry, but you got it wrong. And I’m a long-time Petty fan, willing to acknowledge the times he’s stumbled along the way – even with the Heartbreakers (“Into The Great Wide Open.”) But I think the problem people are having with this CD is that it doesn’t have an easy hook.

    When Wildflowers came out in ’94 (and Petty was already touring with the ‘new guy’ on drums who replaced Stan) it had a similar feel to Mojo. “Crawling Back To You” and “Don’t Fade On Me” wouldn’t be out of place on the new CD and have an ephemeral “Trip To Pirate’s Cove” quality. But the difference was Wildflowers had several radio friendly, up-tempo, catchy tunes (“You Don’t Know How It Feels” .. “You Wreck Me”) that grabbed serious and casual fans alike and led to listening to some of the more thoughtful numbers.

    Anyway, this one is nowhere near as bad as you’ve made it out to be. I agree it could stand to be 12 or 13 tracks as opposed to 15 .. but some of this stuff is very solid. He’s writing from the perspective of a 59 year old dude now, and it’s in the lyrics if you listen carefully. It’s a different approach, isn’t Jeff Lynne pop friendly over-produced, but I have to respectfully disagree with what you’ve heard and wonder if you’ve given it an adequate chance to grow on you. This is one of the best, most unselfish bands out there and Petty did *not* mail this one in ..

  12. Wow. It’s pretty kickass to see you’re just “too cool” to be bothered to attempt to find the quality evident in this CD. It’s also pretty sad that you come off as such a dick. Well done.

  13. I think Mojo is a great album. Recently I loaded up their whole catalog of songs. Then played a little of each one and picked out a handful of songs that I really liked above all the rest. Of the 8 I picked, four of them were from the Mojo album. The song “Don’t Pull Me Over” is superb. Every one I play it for flat out loves it. The other 3 I liked are: Jefferson Jericho Blues, Running Mans Bible and The Trip To Pirates Cove. Don’t let the writers poor review prevent you from hearing great music.

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