Most artists from the 70’s are resting on their laurels and repackaging their greatest hits on nostalgic tours (KISS, Fleetwood Mac, The Eagles, Jimmy Buffett….) But you’ve got to give Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers credit for never settling down and keeping their swagger. With a goal of keeping true rock and roll alive, Petty’s 13th studio album, is raw, angry, exciting, and energetic. Petty said, “We hadn’t made a straight hard-rockin’ record, from beginning to end, in a long time,” You wouldn’t think a band where most are in their 60’s (Tom is 63) could generate this much heat but “Hypnotic Eye” rocks harder than almost any CD of 2014. The fire still burning strong with the Heartbreakers, long time fans will love the return to their Stooges-influenced sound.
“Hypnotic Eye’s” theme is morality. Petty asked “It’s about what’s missing — why is the ‘human’ missing from humanity? I think the level of caring about other people is disappearing.” People are starving all over the world while others live in luxury and decadence. The lyrics address these issues, wrapped around vintage powerchords as the Heartbreakers get a chance to cut loose on a old-fashioned rock and roll record. Coming off their bluesy Mojo CD four years ago, “Hypnotic Eye” is a true kick in the ass and a return to Petty’s first three albums that made us all fall in love with him.
“AMERICAN DREAM PLAN B” – Tracking just under 3 minutes, the CD kicks off with an air-guitar classic. Straight-ahead rocker with the best riff on the album. “I can’t dance for shit” But will this song be a radio hit? It’s pure classic rock. 10/10
“FAULT LINES” – First half is straight out of “Into The Great Wide Open”, then midway the doors fly open and Mike Campbell and Petty battle it out on guitars. “On the highwire, above the wild fire, an old acrobat on faulty cable” 9/10
“RED RIVER” – Brilliant visual imagery here. Opening line “She’s got a 3-D Jesus in a picture frame, got a child she never named, she shakes a snake above her head”. The most hypnotic track on the CD and yes, another great guitar riff. “She’s got a rosary and a rabbit’s foot” 10/10
“FULL GROWN BOY” First slower track, calm change of pace. The laid-back style is enhanced by a beautiful piano accompaniment. “Can you see her in the firelight, how soft and low she sings, how am I going tell her that I love her” 8/10
“ALL YOU CAN CARRY” Weakest track so far, a rocker than doesn’t suck, but just doesn’t go anywhere special. 6/10
“POWER DRUNK” Bluesy introduction, sounds like a track from Petty’s debut CD. Unique tempo change midway. “You and I are left in the wind, in the wake of a rich man’s sins, who’s power drunk” 8/10
“FORGOTTEN MAN” Jangly guitars, swagger, you could hear the Rolling Stones recording this one. You’ll be cranking this one all the way up! 9/10
“SINS OF MY YOUTH” Interesting use of a metronome here, Petty gets sentimental reminiscing about past love’s bliss and mistakes. Soft and sensitive, not your typical Petty song, “You said you love me, wish you liked me more” 8/10
“U GET ME HIGH” Never resorting to today’s modern trends, this is vintage early 80’s Tom Petty. Propulsive beat, a memorable chorus, would have been a single back in the day. 9/10
“BURNT OUT TOWN” Wow, favorite song on the CD. “There’s ashes on mainstreet and the mayor’s cooking up the books”. Petty’s showing his angry-old man persona here but it works beautifully. Sounds like a movie theme for one of those modern-day Westerns. 10/10
“SHADOW PEOPLE” Petty’s message to the world, it’s time to give back. The first third questions your attitude. The middle third is truly hypnotic as the Heartbreakers take us to another world. Petty concludes the record questioning our social conscience and what our actions (not words) show to the world. Wait for the hidden ending message! 8/10
Overall this is one of the best CD’s of 2014. BUT I don’t see a single here. Rock fans and especially Tom Petty enthusiasts will love “Hypnotic Eye”. Petty is embarking on a fall tour with the legendary Steve Winwood where many of these songs hold up well to vintage Heartbreaker classics.