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The Last DJ
Following on from 1999’s album Echo, The Last DJ offers few surprises, rather it continues the rich vein minded over the previous 25 years.
Stephen Rapid, 12 Nov 2002
The one time pretender to the crown of the American guitar pop of the Byrds and all things 12-string has long since passed over onto a higher realm. He’s played with his peers in the Travelling Wilburys, backed Bob Dylan and recorded with Johnny Cash, as well as releasing a series of well received albums with his longtime companions The Heartbreakers – recently anthologised on the excellent two CD set Through The Years. That’s not to mentioned the solo albums put out along the way or the guest appearances, most recently alongside Willie Nelson on the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band’s Will The Circle Be Unbroken Vol.3 singing ‘Goodnight Irene’.
Following on from 1999’s album Echo produced by Rick Rubin The Last DJ offers few surprises, rather it continues the rich vein minded over the previous 25 years. Here he works with producer George Drakoulias, who has produced bands like the Jayhawks in the past, giving the album a rich, warm sound that is embellished on some tracks by the orchestrations of Jon Brion, who handled the arrangements with Petty.
The opening title track laments the state of radio, which under corporate programming allows for little in the way of individuality. ‘Money Becomes King’ also looks at the commercialisation of corporate rock as simply a money making machine. Throughout there is the feeling that Petty doesn’t feel comfortable with the way that the music he loves is going. Though obviously there is something of a dilemma about this when you are releasing your music through one such organisation. But he doesn’t do this in a way that many have to come to expect of this kind of attitude, as sub-Nirvana screamed angst, as Limp Biskit muddied-outrage.
It may not reach the heights of old, but fans will find much to savour, even if he is largely preaching to the converted. His relevance to an new decade may be open to question but for his fans this is a welcome return.