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Non-Prog CD Reviews

Tom Petty

Hypnotic Eye

Review by Gary Hill

I’ve always been a big fan of Tom Petty. I have to say that the first song here kind of threw me, but once I got past that one, I was hooked. In fact, this might be his best album yet. There’s almost a Neil Young and Crazy Horse vibe at times, but this is still trademark Petty. If you’ve ever liked Tom Petty, you should love this album. It’s high quality and just the kind of thing you would expect.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2014  Volume 5 at

Track by Track Review
American Dream Plan B

There is only one song here I’m not blown over by and this is it. The over-distorted arrangement just seems a bit too White Stripes to me. The chorus is more typical Tom Petty, but it just can’t overcome the deficit completely for me. Still, this song has its merits. It should be noted that it gets a bit of a parental advisory.

Fault Lines
Now, this is more like it. There is still a lot of distortion, but somehow this just works better. It has a killer driving bass line and some classic Tom Petty hooks.  Petty still has the magic and charm. 
Red River
Although there are definitely some fuzz laden parts of this track, it’s more of a melodic one. It’s definitely still trademark Petty. It’s another great song.
Full Grown Boy
This cut has a bit of a jazz vibe to it. It’s a mellower tune with some real magic. The charisma and character that drives this is wonderful. Although this is a bit understated, it’s definitely on an even level with the best here. I really love the clean guitar solo on the tune.
All You Can Carry
Back in the harder rocking territory, this is classic. The vocal hook on this might be the best one of the whole disc. In fact, this track is one of the standouts a disc that’s exceptionally strong.   
Power Drunk
More of a blues rocker, this has a real poignant message about society. It’s got some great riffing, too. It’s another that’s exceptionally effective. I love the melodic variations on the bridge, too.
Forgotten Man
This energized rocker feels like classic Tom Petty for sure. While it’s very strong, it’s perhaps not at the same level as the last couple pieces. That’s more a comment on those songs than it is on this one, though.
Sins of My Youth
Mellower and more retro-tinged, there is some real magic on this number. It’s got some hints of jazz and perhaps something a bit like Roy Orbison.    
U Get Me High
More of a straightahead, by the numbers Tom Petty rocker, this is another strong tune. It is just a showcase of how Petty, even when he’s not surprising people or breaking new ground, is so good at hooks and just plain great songs.
Burnt Out Town
If “Power Drunk” was bluesy, this one is almost pure blues. It has harmonica and almost feels like Tom Petty does ZZ Top. It’s a killer. I love the fast paced, powered up electric blues grind section and the honky tonk piano.
Shadow People
Starting with piano, this quickly works out to another classic riff driven jam. Some of the hooks and melodic sections on this are so classic Petty that it’s scary. This song feels like it could have come from the 1970s era of Petty. That said, the lyrics are modern day inspired. The melodic drop back brings some jazzy elements to the table, but when it comes back out it features some killer hard rocking guitar soloing. The instrumental section that takes it to the false ending is among the best of the set. Perhaps it’s better to call it “the ending,” though. There is a short folky acoustic guitar based verse that serves as the final bit of the disc.
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