Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers – Into The Great Wide Open (1991)

FrontCover1.jpgInto the Great Wide Open is the eighth studio album by American rock band Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, first released in 1991. The album was the band’s last with MCA Records. The album was the second Petty produced with Jeff Lynne after the success of Full Moon Fever.

The first single, “Learning to Fly”, became the band’s joint longest-running No. 1 single (along with “The Waiting” from 1981’s Hard Promises) on Billboard’s Mainstream Rock Tracks chart, spending six weeks at the top spot. The second single, “Out in the Cold”, also made No. 1 on the Mainstream Rock chart, albeit for two weeks.

The music video for the title song starred Johnny Depp, who had moved to Los Angeles as a teenager to seek rock stardom, along with Gabrielle Anwar, Faye Dunaway, Matt LeBlanc, Terence Trent D’Arby and Chynna Phillips.

The first single “Learning to Fly” was released prior to the album in June 1991, and was a big hit for Tom Petty. The second single, the title track, was released shortly after the album’s release and is also one of the band’s biggest hits. They were both top 10 singles on various charts. The third single “Out in the Cold” was a minor hit, although it did not achieve the commercial success of the first two. Throughout 1992, four other singles were released; “Makin’ Some Noise”, “All Or Nothin'” “Too Good To Be True” and “King’s Highway”.(by wikipedia)

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Though he’s a major American rock & roll star, Tom Petty has yet to produce the kind of classic album artists of his caliber are supposed to make at least once in their careers. And while Into the Great Wide Open may not be it, it’s the closest he and his band the Heartbreakers have come in nearly 15 years.

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You can hear it yourself. Petty’s first two albums — 1976’s Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers and 1978’s You’re Gonna Get It! — have both just been re-released on Petty’s own Gone Gator record label, and still stand as his best work, effortlessly combining catchy melodies and unpretentiously raucous rock & roll. The follow-up, 1979’s Damn The Torpedoes, went triple platinum and made Petty & the Heartbreakers an arena attraction, but it also signaled a dulling of Petty’s grasp of the pop hook that — success or no — has simply made his music not as interesting as it used to be.

Until now, that is. Into the Great Wide Open is a surprising return to form. In some ways, credit for Petty’s renewal must go to Jeff Lynne, guiding Light in the Electric Light Orchestra, and, along with Petty, George Harrison, Bob Dylan, and the late Roy Orbison, a member of the Traveling Wilburys, the only so-called ”supergroup” in rock’s history to make decent records. Lynne, the Wilbury with the greatest ear for pop — he’s written more hit singles even than Harrison — produced Into The Great Wide Open, and his mark is all over it.

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And while he also participated heavily in Tom Petty’s 1989 solo album, Full Moon Fever — producing and cowriting seven of its songs — something’s different this time. First, and most obviously, the songs, eight of which Petty cowrote with Lynne, are better. ”All or Nothing,” with its stinging, Lennonesque vocal and arrangement, resonates with much the same intensity as Petty’s 1978 album-rock radio staple ”Breakdown.” Other tracks almost as good include ”Too Good to Be True,” ”Kings Highway” and ”Two Gunslingers.” They’re all delightfully hook-filled, which may not sound like a big deal, but for Petty — whose hits, like his 1985 ”Don’t Come Around Here No More,” can be more memorable for their videos than their music — it’s what he has direly needed for far too long. And Petty himself, who at his worst has tended to bray rather than sing, has never sounded fresher or more pleased with what he’s singing (though with lyrics like ”rebel without a clue”…sorry, Tom, even Meat Loaf’s lyricist used that cliché, in an overwrought piece of pop fluff he wrote for Bonnie Tyler five years ago). Petty may not be a Springsteen or a Dylan — he may not have a Born to Run or Blood on the Tracks in him — but who does? I always thought that guys like this start out hot, get famous, get lazy, and then disappear. They’re not supposed to actually get better. (by Kevin Canty)

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And on this album is one of the most important songs for me … this song helped me to go through a very difficult phase in my life:

Well, I started out
Down a dirty road
Started out all alone
And the sun went down
As I crossed the hill
And the town lit up
And the world got still

I’m learning to fly
But I ain’t got wings
Coming down
Is the hardest thing

Well the good ol’ days
May not return
And the rocks might melt
And the sea may burn

Now some say life
Will beat you down
Yeah, break your heart
Steal your crown

So I started out
For God knows where
I guess I’ll know
When I get there

I’m learning to fly
Around the clouds
But what goes up
Must come down

Heyy!

And the titeltrack of this album is of course one of the finest songs ever written by Tom Petty (watch the great video-clip featuring Johnny Depp, Faye Dunaway as his manager, and featured cameos by Terence Trent D’Arby, Chynna Phillips, and Matt LeBlanc.

All in all: This album is a must have … without any doubts … And you should listen to the great slide guitar, played by Mike Campbell.

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Personnel:
Mike Campbell (guitar, slide-guitar, keyboards)
Howie Epstein (bass, background vocals)
Stan Lynch (drums, percussion)
Tom Petty (vocals, guitar, keyboards, percussion)
Benmont Tench (piano, accordion)
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Jeff Lynne (guitar, bass, background vocals, piano, synthesizer, percussion, sound effects)
Roger McGuinn (background vocals  on 07.)
Richard Tandy (synthesizer on 04.)

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Tracklist:
01. Learning to Fly (Petty/Lynne) 4.03
02. Kings Highway (Petty) 3.08
03. Into The Great Wide Open (Petty/Lynne)  3.43
04. Two Gunslingers (Petty) 3.09
05. The Dark Of The Sun (Petty/Lynne) 3.24
06. All Or Nothin’ (Petty/Campbell/Lynne) 4.07
07. All The Wrong Reasons (Petty/Lynne) 3.46
08. Too Good To Be True (Petty) 3.59
09. Out In The Cold (Petty/Lynne) 3.41
10. You And I Will Meet Again (Petty) 3.42
11. Makin Some Noise (Petty/Campbell/Lynne) 3.27
12. Built To Last (Petty/Lynne) 3.58

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And here´s one of the finest video clips in the history of Rock:

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Eddie waited ’til he finished high school
He went to Hollywood, got a tattoo
He met a girl out there with a tattoo too
The future was wide open

They moved into a place they both could afford
He found a nightclub, he could work at the door
She had a guitar and she taught him some chords
The sky was the limit

Into the great wide open
Under them skies of blue
Out in the great wide open
A rebel without a clue

The papers said Ed always played from the heart
He got an agent and a roadie named Bart
They made a record and it went in the charts
The sky was the limit

His leather jacket had chains that would jingle
They both met movie stars, partied and mingled
Their A&R man said “I don’t hear a single”
The future was wide open

Into the great wide open
Under them skies of blue
Out in the great wide open
A rebel without a clue