After lying dormant for more than 30 years, Tom Petty reunited his pre-Heartbreakers, pre-breakout band, Mudcrutch, for a tour and album back in 2008. Turns out it wasn’t just a one-off a-good-time-was-had-by-all affair; they’re back again with another effort, simply titled 2. Supposedly, it really was a good time after all, and worth revisiting.
2 is a down-to-business, no-frills name, for a down-to-business no-frills record. The band has shed the reunion-for-reunion’s sake facade and come forth with a set of new and all original material. Petty is prevalent from the get-go with the opening blasts of harmonica and his signature, lazily drawling vocals on “Trailer.” More classic Petty sounds follow with the jangling rock “Dreams of Flying,” leading into a slow-burn on his “Beautiful Blue,” which blends slide guitar with dark piano lines stirring into a Petty original that can go toe-to-toe with his best.
Three songs in and the hopes are high for this album. Unfortunately, with Petty ceding his title-name, he also cedes full creative control. Each of the five members contributed to the songwriting, starting with drummer Randall Marsh’s “Beautiful World,” a paint-by-numbers rock song that completely deflates the energy built up from the opening tracks. From there, the album rotates back and forth between Petty’s songs and those of his bandmates, with expectedly mixed results.
2 succeeds in making whoever pushed Tom Petty from Mudcrutch, back in 1975, to front his own outfit, look like a genius. It is very clear through this recording that Petty puts forth a higher standard of songsmithing compared to the rest of the band. Fortunately, seven of the 11 tracks are Petty’s, and as excellent additions to his catalog, they elevate 2 to a must-listen for any Petty fan.
Key tracks: Beautiful Blue, Forgive It All, Hope