It’s a pretty simple premise. Write some straight-forward, catchy pop rock and roll tunes and then hire a few great musicians. Make them your backing band. Then make it even better, allow them enough room to grow with you so they become band mates and stay with you for the long haul. There it is boys and girls. Now go for it. As if it was all that easy, huh.
I was recently looking at the chronology of his albums. It’s interesting to note that guitarist supremo Mike Campbell only co-wrote one song on this album. That would be the opening number, “Rockin’ Around (With You).” If you progress though all the Petty albums, you’ll see that Mike adds more and more to the writing process as time goes on. His hit writing success even reached outside of the Heartbreakers He also co-wrote Don Henley’s “Boys of Summer” and “Heart of the Matter.”
Keyboard man Benmont Tench would also stay with The Heartbreakers for many years as well.
Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers peaked at #55 on the Billboard Top 200 Album chart. It’s hard to believe, but neither “American Girl” nor “Breakdown” even hit the singles charts.
Here’s one last interesting note. This album was released in 1976. Elvis Costello’s My Aim is True was released shortly after. To this day I remember them playing together at the then, 1000 seat Riviera Theater in Chicago. AND it would have only set you back $5.
All songs were written by Tom Petty, except where noted.
- “Rockin’ Around (With You)” (Petty, Mike Campbell) – 2:26
- “Breakdown” – 2:42
- “Hometown Blues” – 2:12
- “The Wild One, Forever” – 3:01
- “Anything That’s Rock ‘n’ Roll” – 2:24
- “Strangered in the Night” – 3:30
- “Fooled Again (I Don’t Like It)” – 3:49
- “Mystery Man” – 3:02
- “Luna” – 3:57
- “American Girl” – 3:31
- Tom Petty – vocals, guitars and keyboards
- Mike Campbell – guitars
- Benmont Tench – piano and organ
- Stan Lynch – drums, keyboards on “Luna”
- Ron Blair – electric bass guitar and cello
- Phil Seymour – background vocals
- Jeff Jourard – guitar on “Breakdown”
- Noah Shark – maracas, tambourine, sleigh bells
- Jim Gordon – drums on “Strangered in the Night”
- Emory Gordy – bass guitar on “Strangered in the Night”
- Duck Dunn – bass guitar on “Hometown Blues”
- Randall Marsh – drums on “Hometown Blues”
- Charlie Sousa – saxophone on “Hometown Blues”