Mudcrutch is the most famous band you never heard of. Mudcrutch is also a strong testament of how a rock’n’roll legend is true to his friends. Mudcrutch was Tom Petty‘s first band, in which he played bass and sang backup, from 1970 to 1975. In 2008, Petty reformed the band (which includes life-long Heartbreakers Mike Campbell, on guitars and pianist, organist Benmont Tench) as he contacted original co-founder Tom Leadon (guitars), singer Jim Lenahan and drummer Randall Marsh. After an album and a tour, the band reformed to rehearse new material and release “2”, last year.

mudcrutch tom petty 70s

Mudcrutch in the 70s (photo Red Slater)

How does a Mudcrutch album sound? Well, as you have probably guessed it, it sounds pretty much like a Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers album! It’s probably hard for Leadon, Lenahan and Marsh to argue with Petty, Campbell and Tench on song direction and arrangements, but let’s bet they were pretty happy about reforming the band. Petty is a true band leader who gives some room to his bandmates, while keeping the focus on the sound he wants to get. This being said, he didn’t have to reform Mudcrutch if he didn’t want to have the input from his former bandmates! History of man shows he has never stopped his way, from switching producers, to playing in “solo” (with half his band backing him up, as on “Full Moon Fever”).

Petty is a very strong songwriter. It’s particularly obvious in his concerts where he plays two hour-long lists of mega-hits: Here Comes My Girl, Refugee, American Girl, Don’t Do Me Like That, Stop Draggin’ My Heart Around (with Stevie Nicks), The Waiting, You Got Lucky, Don’t Come Around Here No More, Free Fallin’, I Won’t Back Down, Running Down a Dream, Yer So Bad, You Don’t Know How It Feels, Mary Jane’s Last Dance, Learning to Fly, Into the Great Wide Open, The Last DJ… the list goes on and on! From energy rockers to softer folk songs, he can handle a bunch of rock styles.

Here is a playlist of his greatest hits.

 

With Mudcrutch, Petty takes somehow a turn to country rock with Victim of Circumstance, which sounds like a blend of JJ Cale, CCR and The Band, speeded up.

The album is a blend of soft and rocker moments. Smooth lovers’ song, Beautiful Blue, where we instantly recognize Petty’s sensibility of the later albums, meet rockers like Beautiful World where upbeat rhythms meet rock’n’roll guitar riffs, and typical harmony based chorus. It’s great to appreciate Petty’s back vocals work as he lets his old pal Lenahan handle the mic. Dreams of Flying sounds like a pure Heartbreakers’ song with that Byrds influenced guitars. There are a few moments that Petty, Campbell and Tench get into more country-style music, when they bring out the banjos on the dynamic and uplifting The Other Side of the Mountain, while others, like Trailer, are typical Heartbreakers’ songs.

 

To me, being a Tom Petty fan since my early teen years (I have all albums and rarely been deceived by any of them), “2” is another stone in the great tower of song that the Florida-born singer-songwriter has been building for the last 40 years. “2” is a strong album with a lot of great moments, with a healthy Petty at the helm of the band, even if none of the songs probably won’t be huge hits, compared to Petty’s impressive catalogue. Mudcrutch makes quality music that takes time to be discovered.

We can certainly appreciate the skills set of 66 year-old Tom Petty and his “new” band, as we would on any of his albums. The “old guys” from Mudcrutch have delivered the job and by no means are to be considered as a b-team from the Heartbreakers. Mudcrutch rocks!

mudcrutch 2

MUDCRUTCH
2
(Reprise Records, 2016)

-Genre: folk rock
-In the same ballpark as Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers (obviously), The Band, JJ Cale

Buy the album on the band’s Google Play page
Follow the band via their Facebook page
Listen to videos on the band’s YouTube channel

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About The Author

Nicolas Pelletier

Mélomane invétéré et rédacteur agréé, Nicolas pratique la critique en mode olympique: il parle de tout, tout le temps, depuis 1991. Il a publié 6 000 critiques de disques et concerts dont 1100 chez emoragei magazine et 600 sur enMusique.ca, dont il a également été le rédacteur-en-chef de 2009 à 2014. Il publie “Les perles rares et grands crus de la musique” en 2013, et devient stratège numérique des radios de Bell Média en 2015, participant au lancement de la marque iHeartRadio au Canada en 2016.