Review by C.J. Bunce
Tom Petty passed away three years ago, but as with many great singer/songwriters–and other writers for that matter–he left behind recordings that never made it to an album or single release. Four new songs by Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers and an extended edition of a previously released song make it to the airwaves and earphones this weekend in a re-release of another lesser known Petty album. Originally released on the soundtrack for the forgettable 1996 movie She’s the One, the songs–forming the band’s ninth studio recording–far surpassed the typical song soundtrack, and the album may have fared better on the music charts had it been just another Petty/Heartbreaker album. Still, it was certified gold, and songs “Walls” and “Climb that Hill” made it high up the charts. Some of the songs made the She’s the One soundtrack because they were cut from the hit Wildflowers album–originally intended as a double album. In this weekend’s 25th anniversary release, Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers Angel Dream, a “remixed, remastered, and reimagined” album with newly released songs, the complete music experience is delivered like it ideally would have been in 1996. The digital/disc/LP/vinyl release trims off the Wildflowers songs (which were added to last year’s Wildflowers boxed set) and the result is the next best thing to a new Tom Petty album. And it seems the band held one song back that is now timed exactly right for this blazing hot summer across the country.
That song is “105 Degrees,” a song that would have fit right in on any album in Petty’s lifetime, whether with the Heartbreakers or The Traveling Wilburys. It’s a simple, but typical Heartbreakers driving, rollicking road trip song that is accompanied online by a “lyric video” full of nostalgic west coast road trip imagery. Check that out below. It makes the perfect anthem for this summer, particular in the monsoon of the south central U.S. and the hottest temps ever in the Pacific Northwest.
The album begins with “Angel Dream No. 2,” the tender love song from She’s the One that Petty wrote for his wife. That song is followed by “Grew Up Fast,” the quiet and somber She’s the One soundtrack coming of age/anger song that would have fit nicely on the band’s Into the Great Wide Open album. It’s followed by the tremendously underrated and memorable “Change the Locks,” the ultimate of Petty & Co.’s “Bad Booty” songs. Another band great follows in the chugging “Zero from Outer Space,” complete with harmonica, highlighting its Southern rock heritage in thumping jazz and blues rhythms.
The next “Bad Booty” song is the slow anti-love ballad “Asshole,” a song that really defined the tone of the She’s the One album. The most salient advice of Petty, then in his 40s, can be summed up in “One of Life’s Little Mysteries,” first of the new songs on this album: “Get yourself a dog, get yourself a cat, watch them chase each other around the laundromat.” “Mysteries” is one of those sauntering tunes evoking jazz & blues Tin Pan Alley songs you could easily imagine being taken sang on a Leon Redbone album. The tenor of the album picks up with “Walls No. 3,” a more optimistic track of the She’s the One songs that got some real airplay back in the 1990s.
Petty’s band Mudcrutch is all over the second of the new Petty tracks, the personal, grimier, dark side of the band-on-the-road anthem, “Thirteen Days,” a cover of the J.J. Cale song. The was exactly the kind of song Petty would insert at the end of his live concerts. This is followed in the tracks by the best of the new songs, as mentioned above, “105 Degrees,” leading into the best song of both this reimagined album and the original She’s the One soundtrack, “Climb That Hill.” You have to wonder why this inspiring song doesn’t make every new Heartbreakers “greatest hits” album–it’s in that subset of Petty classics with Full Moon Fever’s “Runnin’ Down a Dream” and “Won’t Back Down.”
Next up is an extended version of She’s the One’s “Supernatural Radio,” a somber, last-call song for the album (another of those Petty gunfighter songs that match the theme of Into the Great Wide Open). This leaves the last track–and the final of the four new songs–an instrumental, sleepy redux of “Angel Dream” called “French Disconnection.”
Here’s the new video from the album, for “105 Degrees”:
Fans of Petty’s original She’s the One track listing will hardly miss his “California,” “Hope You Never,” and “Hung Up and Overdue” (which featured Ringo Starr on drums), and brief instrumentals “Hope on Board” and “Airport,” which really do make good add-ons for the 2020 Wildflowers re-release–although these are also memorable, solid Heartbreakers tunes from this prolific era in the band’s history. “We’re overdue for a dream come true.”
It’s a great fix for anyone thinking they’ve heard the last Tom Petty album. Pick up Angel Dream: Songs and Music from the Motion Picture She’s the One, here at Amazon, now available and released in time for the Fourth of July this weekend.