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  • Writer's pictureEric Senich

The TP20: What's Your Favorite Tom Petty Album & Why?

Tom Petty had one of the most prolific careers in rock history. Solo or with the Heartbreakers, he had hit albums from the 1970s through the 2010s and sold more than 80 million records worldwide, making him one of the best-selling music artists of all time. Add his two albums with the Traveling Wilburys and two with his side project Mudcrutch, he recorded a total of 20 studio albums.

Below are all 20 albums featuring TP. I wanna know which one is your favorite and why? I'll get things started with my vote and it's gotta be 1985's 'Southern Accents'. It's got just one hit single -"Don't Come Around Here No More" (and what a hit single it is!) - yet there's something so unique about the rest of the songs on this album that make it my favorite.

The album leads off with "Rebels", a rocker featuring a stadium-anthem chorus: Hey, HEY, HEY!!!! I was born a rebel!!!!! That's followed by the funky "It Ain't Nothin' To Me", then "Don't Come Around Here No More" featuring the song's co-writer Dave Stewart of the Eurythmics on the electric sitar. I will say that this has to be the only song featuring electronic drums that's stood the test of time all these years later. Outdated? I don't think so. Stan Lynch manages to bring out some unique emotion in that mechanical kit with his arrangement. The title track "Southern Accents" finishes side one. Rolling Stone called it "a fierce defense of Petty's Southern roots and an ambitious fight for his creative honor." It features a beautiful string arrangement by Jack Nitzsche, who is famously known for working with the Rolling Stones and Neil Young but also created the film scores for The Exorcist and One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest.

Petty takes a shot at R&B with the opening track on side two - "Make It Better (Forget About Me)". It includes Memphis horns, soulful backing vocals and a beat you can't help but dance to. What follows is a run of songs that make this album stand out among the rest of TP's work in my opinion. Petty gets into "character" voice on "Spike", a song that pokes fun at that wannabe bad ass we've all seen strutting his stuff at the local watering hole. Petty sings sarcastically: "I'm scared, ain't you boys scared?" Ha! Love it!!! "Dogs On The Run" is next. This song written by Tom Petty and guitarist Mike Campbell features Petty at his best lyrically:

Well we come with what was on our backs

Yeah, when the leaves had died and all turned black

Back when the wind was cold and blew them 'round

When we laid our blankets on the ground

Yeah and I woke up feelin' hungry

Lookin' straight into the sun, and left a cold night on the ground

Like a dog on the run

Petty stretches out creatively once again on the track "Mary's New Car", featuring some sweet saxophone work by Marty Jourard. He finishes the album with "The Best Of Everything", which is one of Tom Petty's most underrated songs of them all. A cool piece of trivia regarding this one, The Band's Richard Manuel contributes to the backing vocals. Again, Petty is on his game lyrically. He sets the scene in the opening verse, wondering what ever became of a lost love from his youth:

She probably works in a restaurant

That's what her mamma did

But I don't know if she ever really

Could've put up with it

Or maybe she sings in a nightclub

'Cause sometimes she used to sing

But I don't know if it ever

Amounted to anything

So there ya go. I put in my vote and told you why. Now it's your turn. Vote and add your comments below!

LISTEN TO EPISODE 89 OF BOOKED ON ROCK: "Tom Petty's Musical Legacy w/ 'Tom Petty Project' Host Kevin Brown


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