Album: Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers (Mojo)

5.00

After years spent establishing their command of most genres of American rock and pop, Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers finally get around to making their blues album – and it's one of their very best efforts, as ought to be the case when a band plugs into the potency of raw R'n'B spirit.

There's a steely confidence about the album right from the opening riff of "Jefferson Jericho Blues", whose unison guitar and harmonica groove rolls along with the Corvette power of a Chess Records classic, Petty musing about Thomas Jefferson's miscegenate affection for "the little maid out back". Then it's straight into the waltz-time single "First Flash of Freedom", whose oddly prog-rockish riff brings to mind The Allman Brothers Band on one of their jazz-infused workouts. It offers the first of a series of showcases for guitarist Mike Campbell, who demonstrates his extraordinary versatility across virtually any style you'd care to mention, from the stormtrooper heavy-metal stomp of "I Should Have Known It" to the amped-up country-blues of "U.S. 41" and the brilliant simulation of J J Cale's neat, fluid guitar licks for "Candy".

As you'd expect from Petty and his gang, there's a fair number of long highways traversed on Mojo, which may be why it sounds so great played while driving. As well as the lumber-worker walking down "U.S. 41", there's the Cadillac Eldorado hymned in "Candy", the adventurer running down "this dark highway" in "Running Man's Bible", the paranoid doper scared by a police car's blue light in his mirror in the engaging reggae groove "Don't Pull Me Over", and sundry metaphors involving slowing down or overtaking. Best of all, perhaps, is "The Trip to the Pirate's Cove", a typical Petty tale of Californication in which the car runs out of gas and loses a wheel, so the two buddies stop off to party with the maids at a motel, before heading off into the sunset again: "My friend said take her with you/To leave her here would be a crime/But let's get outta Santa Cruz/All I got is a Canadian dime". The narrative has a peculiarly sketchy, inconclusive character that leaves the story suspended somewhere between ephemeral and authentic, which is exactly the territory an American road myth ought to occupy.

Impressively for one working in a genre so dominated by ill-starred romance, Petty the songwriter finds a broad range of themes around which to hang these blues, including the cautionary tale about the abuse of power and alcohol, "High in the Morning": "Well, it pierces my heart to see a young man fall... To see him high in the morning, and by evening see him gone". But none is more aptly upholstered than the Muddy Waters stomp applied to "Takin' My Time", in which an ageing party animal, finally feeling his years, fondly recalls his youth, "when my fuse was still lit". It's such a perfect alliance of sentiment and setting that Muddy himself might have penned it.

DOWNLOAD THIS Jefferson Jericho Blues; First Flash of Freedom; Candy; The Trip to Pirate's Cove; Don't Pull Me Over; Takin' My Time

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Keira Knightley and Benedict Cumberbatch star in the Alan Turing biopic The Imitation Game

film
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Radio 4's Today programme host Evan Davis has been announced as the new face of Newsnight

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Pharrell Williams performing on the Main Stage at the Wireless Festival in Finsbury Park, north London

music
Arts and Entertainment
Carrie Mathison returns to the field in the fourth season of Showtime's Homeland

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Crowds soak up the atmosphere at Latitude Festival

music
Arts and Entertainment
Meyne Wyatt and Caren Pistorus arrive for the AACTA Aawrds in Sydney, Australia

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Rick Astley's original music video for 'Never Gonna Give You Up' has been removed from YouTube

music
Arts and Entertainment
Quentin Blake's 'Artists on the beach'

Artists unveils new exhibition inspired by Hastings beach

art
Arts and Entertainment
MusicFans were left disappointed after technical issues
Arts and Entertainment
'Girl with a Pearl Earring' by Johannes Vermeer, c. 1665
artWhat is it about the period that so enthrals novelists?
Arts and Entertainment
Into the woods: The Merry Wives of Windsor at Petersfield
theatreOpen-air productions are the cue for better box-office receipts, new audiences, more interesting artistic challenges – and a picnic
Arts and Entertainment
James singer Tim Booth
latitude 2014
Arts and Entertainment
Lee says: 'I never, ever set out to offend, but it can be an accidental by-product'
comedy
Arts and Entertainment
tvThe judges were wowed by the actress' individual cooking style
Arts and Entertainment
Nicholas says that he still feels lucky to be able to do what he loves, but that there is much about being in a band he hates
musicThere is much about being in a band that he hates, but his debut album is suffused with regret
Arts and Entertainment
The singer, who herself is openly bisexual, praised the 19-year-old sportsman before launching into a tirade about the upcoming Winter Olympics

books
Arts and Entertainment
music
Arts and Entertainment
Jon Cryer and Ashton Kutcher in the eleventh season of Two and a Half Men

tv
Arts and Entertainment
Ben Whishaw is replacing Colin Firth as the voice of Paddington Bear

film
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Noel Fielding's 'Luxury Comedy': A land of the outright bizarre

    Noel Fielding's 'Luxury Comedy'

    A land of the outright bizarre
    What are the worst 'Word Crimes'?

    What are the worst 'Word Crimes'?

    ‘Weird Al’ Yankovic's latest video is an ode to good grammar. But what do The Independent’s experts think he’s missed out?
    Can Secret Cinema sell 80,000 'Back to the Future' tickets?

    The worst kept secret in cinema

    A cult movie event aims to immerse audiences of 80,000 in ‘Back to the Future’. But has it lost its magic?
    Facebook: The new hatched, matched and dispatched

    The new hatched, matched and dispatched

    Family events used to be marked in the personal columns. But now Facebook has usurped the ‘Births, Deaths and Marriages’ announcements
    Why do we have blood types?

    Are you my type?

    All of us have one but probably never wondered why. Yet even now, a century after blood types were discovered, it’s a matter of debate what they’re for
    Honesty box hotels: You decide how much you pay

    Honesty box hotels

    Five hotels in Paris now allow guests to pay only what they think their stay was worth. It seems fraught with financial risk, but the honesty policy has its benefit
    Commonwealth Games 2014: Why weight of pressure rests easy on Michael Jamieson’s shoulders

    Michael Jamieson: Why weight of pressure rests easy on his shoulders

    The Scottish swimmer is ready for ‘the biggest race of my life’ at the Commonwealth Games
    Some are reformed drug addicts. Some are single mums. All are on benefits. But now these so-called 'scroungers’ are fighting back

    The 'scroungers’ fight back

    The welfare claimants battling to alter stereotypes
    Amazing video shows Nasa 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action

    Fireballs in space

    Amazing video shows Nasa's 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action
    A Bible for billionaires

    A Bible for billionaires

    Find out why America's richest men are reading John Brookes
    Paranoid parenting is on the rise - and our children are suffering because of it

    Paranoid parenting is on the rise

    And our children are suffering because of it
    For sale: Island where the Magna Carta was sealed

    Magna Carta Island goes on sale

    Yours for a cool £4m
    Phone hacking scandal special report: The slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

    The hacker's tale: the slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

    Glenn Mulcaire was jailed for six months for intercepting phone messages. James Hanning tells his story in a new book. This is an extract
    We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

    We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

    Child abusers are not all the same, yet the idea of treating them differently in relation to the severity of their crimes has somehow become controversial
    The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

    The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

    For instance, did Isis kill the Israeli teenagers to trigger a war, asks Patrick Cockburn