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Highway Companion

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Audio CD, July 25, 2006
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Tom Petty returns after a 4 year absence with 'Highway Companion.' Produced by fellow Wilbury Jeff Lynne the CD features 12 selections of Petty's finest songwriting to date. Along with Petty and Lynne the only other musician on the CD is longtime Heartbreaker Mike Campbell, making this a true solo album. This also marks the first CD for Tom's new label at American Recordings. Tom will be out on tour throughout the summer with such artists as The Strokes, Frank Black and John Meyer.

Four years after he took Elvis Costello's advice and bit the music/radio biz hands that have simultaneously fed and frustrated him for decades on the scabrous The Last DJ, Tom Petty returned to the studio with more personally introspective matters on his mind. Reuniting with producer/Wilbury sideman Jeff Lynne sans Heartbreakers for his third solo release proper, the veteran doesn't so much retool his trademark sound here as allow it the freedom to roam. The sonic landscape here is bluesier ("Saving Grace's opening shuffle, the haunting "Turn This Car Around") and more country-fried (the twangy energy of the blue collar lament "Big Weekend"), a return to familiar roots that produces subtly different results this time around. That sensibility now seasons songs as different as the stoned-elegant languor of "Night Driver" and the playful "Jack," where Petty and Lynn give a knowing nod and wink to the contemporary pop milieu. The stately, pop-perfect closer "Golden Rose" may lean on the Beatle-y side of their familiar sound, but it's a cliché the duo use both sparingly and shrewdly throughout, forging one of the veteran's most free-ranging and warmly satisfying efforts in a decade. Jerry McCulley

Recommended Tom Petty Discography

The Last DJ

Anthology: Through the Years


Product Details

  • Audio CD (July 25, 2006)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: American
  • ASIN: B000FP2O2C
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (211 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #38,345 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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105 of 112 people found the following review helpful By Mitchell Cassman on July 25, 2006
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
Tom Petty fans rejoice because he's back with his third solo studio album `Highway Companion.' The album consists of 12 tracks that are perfect for a road trip and live up to the classic guitar rock sound that fans of Petty have loved for years.

`Highway Companion' finds Petty once again teaming with musicians Jeff Lynne (who produced the album and was a member of the Traveling Wilburys band with Petty) and Mike Campbell (longtime guitarist for Petty and the Heartbreakers).

The album features a stripped down studio rock sound closer to the sound that Petty did on 1989's `Full Moon Fever' than the singer's follow-up solo album `Wildflowers' in 1994. All of the songs were once again written by Petty, and the singer/songwriter also played rhythm guitar, drums, harmonica, electric piano, bass, and lead guitar and provided lead and backing vocals on the album's various tracks.

`Highway Companion' (which Petty describes as being about the passing of time) is filled with the type of rock songs that one would expect from Petty, and never strays too far from the formula of song writing that made him a rock icon. It kicks off with the "blues heavy" track "Saving Grace" - with lyrics that set the tone for the whole album.

The song is simply the perfect way to start a rock album, and you will be in love with `Highway Companion' before Petty finishes the track. This is a heavy blues song filled with guitar riffs similar to "Running Down a Dream" or something off a Bo Diddley album. Petty keeps other parts of the album bluesy with tracks like "Jack," "Turn This Car Around," and "This Old Town."

"Flirting with Time" and "Down South" are reminiscent of work done by Petty and the Heartbreakers on albums like `Echo' and `Into the Great Wide Open.
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66 of 72 people found the following review helpful By J. Chasin on August 3, 2006
Format: Audio CD
A new Tom Petty record is always a welcome occasion (even the ones produced by Jeff Lynne.) Highway Companion is Petty's third solo album, and the previous two (Full Moon Fever and Wildflowers) are generally considered to be among the best in his now-30-years-long history.

Jeff Lynne produces with a lighter touch than usual, which is a good thing; he lets the music breathe, and as a result it sounds earthy and organic, which is how Petty should be recorded. Many of the best songs harken back to the breezy, wistful Wildflowers, especially the lovely "Square One," which Petty introduced in concert this past June by calling it one of the songs he was especially close to.

Guitarist (and Heartbreaker "co-captain") Mike Campbell is, as usual, the secret weapon here. Campbell is absolutely meticulous about guitar sounds; he manages to get precisely the right tone on each solo, each track. Listen to the way his brief but poignant solo pierces like an arrow when he steps up during "Down South;" prickly, trebly, a little bit of echo. If you listen closely, you can hear just how much effort Campbell puts into sounding so effortless. Listen to his full, rubbery tone on "Night Driver;" he manages to speak volumes just by the sound of his guitar, almost regardless of what he plays. And what he plays is going to be note-perfect and spot-on.

Indeed, the credits list only three players-- Petty (who covers the drums), Lynne (bass, among other things) and Campbell. The record has a casual feel to it, a gentle, friendly and inviting vibe. After repeated listens, the message-- about the passage of time-- begins to seep in ("Turn this car around/I'm going back...") "You can look back, babe... but its best not to stare," Petty sings in "Big Weekend.
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Format: Audio CD
Tom Petty's timeless HIGHWAY COMPANION is one of those albums that needs some time to marinate in your CD player, iPod, computer, or soul...wherever you best like to house your favorite music. For the most part, it doesn't leap out of the speakers and grab you by the throat, so much as it slips up behind you and drapes a friendly, understanding arm across your shoulders. For that reason, I've waited a week before writing this review, to allow the songs to soak in; and I can honestly say that after listening to it more than twenty times in the past seven days, I'm still finding new bits to love about it every time.

First of all, it starts with the quality of the songs themselves. Tom Petty takes a backseat to no one lyrically. He is as fine a lyricist as there is in this generation, spanning everyone from Bob Dylan to Smokey Robinson to Van Morrison. There are so many incredible one-liners and epiphanies throughout this one CD that it would be a career's worth for many writers. For example ...

* "It's hard to say/who you are these days/but you run on anyway/don't you baby?"

* "Last time though I hid my tracks/So well I could not get back"

* "He was caught up in a lie/he half-believed"

* "You're flirting with time baby/flirting with time, and maybe/time baby/is catching up with you"

* "Create myself down South/impress all the women/pretend I'm Samuel Clemens/wear seersucker and white linens"

* "If you don't run you rust"

...and there are so many more, but I'll let you discover them for yourself.

TP's masterful way with a melody doesn't disappoint either. Each song works its way into that spot in your brain that later triggers bouts of humming, whistling, and meditative la-la-la-ing.
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Jeff Lynne is a Tom Petty Disaster
Problematic? With Lynne he made Full Moon Fever and Into The Great Wide Open. Those are two of his best sounding and selling Albums.
Jul 19, 2006 by Stephen J. Monachello |  See all 14 posts
I am not sure if Tom still has it ?
Of course he still has it. Every artist has CDs whose sales disappoint, but Petty is busier than ever: the 30th anniversary tour is a huge success, selling out every show; the CD is already getting airplay and plenty of buzz; he has a new recording contract and "60 percent of a new... Read More
Jul 20, 2006 by Mike Nutt |  See all 5 posts
For all you fretting over Jeff Lynne's production
It's going to be just like when Lynne produced The Beatles 'Free As A Bird' and 'Real Love'. They ended up being the best two ELO tunes ever waxed...
Jul 22, 2006 by This Ol' Man |  See all 3 posts
Same old Petty songs with new lyrics
I hope you are playing the devil's advocate with this review. Unfortunately I fear you are serious. Have you ever heard the expression "signature sound"? Maybe Tom should change his style completely, to sound more like, lets say, David Gray? I can only conclude that you are a tool... Read More
Jul 25, 2006 by Mookie |  See all 3 posts
Highway Companion An Upcoming Classic
I agree with you on Full Moon Fever, but Into the Great Wide Open has a couple of clunkers, almost as if the band and Jeff Lynne didn't really see eye to eye
Jul 6, 2006 by Billy Austin |  See all 4 posts
Just found an early review of his new album -- Be the first to reply
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