Saying it is to commit an act of rock heresy, perhaps, but facts are facts: Tom Petty’s solo stuff is better than his work with the Heartbreakers (Come to think of it, so are his two Mudcrutch albums). Casual fans may not know the difference, but they do know songs like “Free Fallin’,” “Runnin’ Down A Dream,” “I Won’t Back Down,” “You Don’t Know How It Feels,” “It’s Good To Be King” and “You Wreck Me,” which all happen to be iconic rock offerings from solo albums Full Moon Fever and Wildflowers and not grating old-man blues jams.
Ultimateclassicrock.com ranks those two records as the best of Petty’s career, ahead of all 13 Heartbreakers releases, and it’s a crying shame Petty’s third, and so far final, solo LP, 2006’s Highway Companion, didn’t receive the radio play those two did because it’s just as good. Petty grudgingly pared Wildflowers down to a 15-song single CD before its release in 1995, but he tells Rolling Stone that the double album he originally conceived may finally come to life in 2017 with a tour built around playing only Wildflowers in conjunction with the long-awaited release of an expanded edition..
“I want to take the Heartbreakers and whoever else I need to reproduce every sound in a big way,” he said. “That album was really about sound in a big way. I would like to go out there and perform the entire album as it was originally conceived with all of the songs.”
That would likely mean hearing songs like “Climb That Hill” and “Hung Up And Overdue,” which were used to fill out the She’s The One soundtrack after being excluded from Wildflowers. As David Letterman would say, we’ll take all of that you’ve got. Here’s a taste of what 2017 may be like for a night in your city: