Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers/Hard Promises


Hard Promises is the 4th studio release by Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers. Released in May of 1981, this release featured the FIRST duet between Petty and Stevie Nicks. Delayed release dates plagued the album as Petty and his record company fought about the prices of the record. Petty won out in the end and fans were able to get the vinyl release for $8.98 vs. the $9.98 the label wanted. This has always been a very special record for me…although a long time Petty fan, I ALWAYS grab this release for a Petty fix. In my opinion, there is not a weak song on the entire release. This is a piece of underappreciated history.

The Waiting—-From the first notes, you can hear the recognizable guitar of Mike Campbell. Petty delivers a vocal that is full of nasal beauty and an urgency that is only matched by the rapid feel of the drums. This song is americana at it’s best…this was a time when Petty and Mellancamp ruled the radio and this is a prime example of why. Fantastic!!!!

A Woman In Love—-Again, it is remarkable how the Heartbreakers have such a distinct musical sound. Petty delivers a vocal that leans heavy on the edge of Country…the chorus comes alive with the familiar drive of the band and the voices coming together makes the song huge, yet remarkably comfortable. This is extraordinary…Petty can muster a nasal drawl that rivals EVERYONE!!!!

Night Watchman—-Drum driven with a nice, huge bass line, the song is deep and layered from the onset. Petty again edges on that old school Refugee sound…this is a noisy song without being obnoxious. I love how prominent the bass line is throughout the ENTIRE song…it forms it and keeps it moving. This is fabulous….throw up your hands and say YEAH!!!!

Something Big—-I can’t think of any other song when Petty displayed a more Southern Texas sound than on this song…well maybe I can…but anyways…this is incredible. The musical soundtrack is full of Americana sounds and again, the song almost borders on Country…how fantastic. The drawl is what shapes the whole song…Petty has a unique phrasing that really defined the band next to the Campbell sound. This is wonderful….truly classic!!

Kings Road—-Driven by the Campbell style of guitar, the song still reeks of classic Rock-A-Billy Country that this release is full of…just throw in a slight twist of Blues and you have this track down to a tee. Petty is so nasal that you just think of Dylan automatically, but Tom manages to do it with a much more pleasant result. This is loud and rocking….pure masterpiece.

Letting You Go—-This has a really nice electronic organ that sets the entire tone of the song. Tom manages to create a vocal that is almost better than anything on this release. the words just nasally lead into one another to create a huge, long sentence. This is wonderful….always something I turn to if I am feeling nostalgic. Fantastic Tom!!!!!

A Thing About You—-Rockin’ and Rollin’ right out of the gate, the song moves at a great pace…lead mostly by Campbell and his special sound. Petty ramps up his vocal and the result is something of amaze ment…the nasal sound almost disappears with his upper register and he shows that he is a REAL singer. This is literally fantastic!!!!

Insider—-This is a masterpiece duet with Stevie Nicks. I wonder every single time I hear this why is was not as huge as ‘Leather & Lace’…..everything about this song has the hallmarks of a classic duet. Theses two people were meant to sing together, the voices intertwined literally are like a quilt. The music is grand, the style slow and acoustic…the drums on very quiet mode. From the onset you are sucked in by the duel vocals…Petty rises just enough to really showcase the voice of Nicks…this is moving, devastating and euphoric. WOW!!!

The Criminal Kind—-Serving to shock you from the malaise and solemnity of the previous track, this enters the fray with a decidedly upbeat tempo. The song has a nice element of Country Blues that falls in perfect step with most of this release. Tom sounds great, and the music is really loud…..but the vocal manages to meld perfect with it. The maracas are awesome…sometimes it is the littlest noise that comes out to be so important. Great!

You Can Still Change Your Mind—-One of the saddest and most melancholy songs of the time, this song can elate me or devastate me in a moment depending on the situation. That is the true beauty of music….you can use it whenever you need it and for whatever for. This track is mostly a VERY acoustic Heartbreakers and a very emotive Petty that literally rips out your heart and leaves it on the floor. Petty sounds devastated and more real than I have ever heard him sound….this is incredible.

***** out of 5

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One Response to “Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers/Hard Promises”

  1. Great album it was also the first concert i went to.

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