Crutch Time

I enjoyed the recent Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers documentary by Peter Bogdanovich immensely. Tom Petty is seriously talented, a great songwriter and lyricist, and likeable with it, but he rarely seems to get any credit for it this side of the Atlantic.

There are plenty of occasions in the documentary when the story is one of him in conflict with assorted record company bosses. At one point, he goes on strike, to the point of declaring himself bankrupt, in protest at the publishing contract he was tricked into signing, which had given the record company control over his back catalogue (Petty says he thought publishing had to do with sheet music). One of my favourite bits in the documentary is when he’s in the studio helping former Byrds frontman Roger McGuinn record a comeback album. It’s 1990, and McGuinn is wearing the most hideous pair of glasses imaginable, the sort of thing Mike Read or Simon Bates had discarded a few years previous. And the glasses match the music. McGuinn is recording a track suggested to him by the record company. Petty is unimpressed, and says, why the hell are you recording this shit, telling him it’s awful. He starts laying into the record company, saying, I can’t believe they are making you do this, I mean don’t they know who you are? McGuinn starts to cry like a baby, and then starts thanking Petty for telling it like it is.

Anyway, this is a roundabout way of introducing this Byrds cover by Petty’s new band, Mudcrutch. In fact, it isn’t a new band at all, since they broke up before he formed the Heartbreakers. But they’ve reformed, and brought out a new record. Happily, Heartbreakers guitarist Mike Campbell and keyboardist Benmont Tench were both in the band, and the original line-up is intact. Both are kick-ass rock and roll musicians, and they seem to have freer rein on this record to than on Heartbreakers records.

Thumbs up from me, anyway. I now have a craving for whiskey and fags.

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