In 1970, Tom Petty started his musical journey with a group called Mudcrutch. The relatively short lived group tried to make a name for themselves by moving to Los Angeles, CA (from Florida), but their 1975 single “Depot Street” failed to chart, and Mudcrutch disbanded by request of their record company, never to be heard from again.
That is, until 2008, when Petty reunited with his original band members for their debut, eponymous album. While two of the Mudcrutch members, Benmont Tench and Mike Campbell, continued to work with Petty as members of the Heartbreakers, the other two members, Tom Leadon and Randall Marsh, added their unique sounds to the contribution. Now, eight years later, the classic Mudcrutch lineup is back once more with the appropriately titled new release, 2.
Through his 40+ years in the music business, Tom Petty has accrued an improbable number of hits. So many of his songs are chart toppers; regular selections for the local classic rock radio station. This wasn’t something that I fully grasped until seeing Tom Petty in concert at the Hollywood Bowl back in 2008, singing along to nearly every song despite my mistaken impression of unfamiliarity with the catalog. From “You Wreck Me” through “American Girl,” the impressive night of music gave me nothing but respect for Mr. Petty.
And that’s just it. Tom Petty is so iconic, his voice so recognizable, that anything he does will sound like, well, Tom Petty. Sure, there are moments where lead solos from Tom Leadon (brother of Eagles’ member Bernie Leadon) get more into the blues nitty-gritty than a Heartbreakers song might. There are individual songs written by Leadon, Tench, Marshall, and Campbell, but Petty kicks in the other seven of the eleven original songs on 2. There’s even a song called “Dreams of Flying,” which naturally conjures comparisons to the classic song, “Learning To Fly.”
Fortunately, comparing Mudcrutch’s ‘2’ to the prolific Petty catalog is a good thing. The novelty of Mudcrutch was in full force on their debut album; eight years later, the novelty has translated into a tight-knit rocker. The album flows well from one song to the next, feeling more like an intimate live set than a studio recording. The band members are clearly having fun, coming through in the rootsy rock that defines an entire generation.
Do yourself a favor and listen to the album in full, streaming below courtesy of NPR Music until its official release date of May 20th.