Petty Differences?

Extended Play Live (Warner Bros.)
Mudcrutch

By Hunter Embry

Before Tom Petty broke big with the Heartbreakers, he was the bassist and singer for Mudcrutch. Petty, then seventeen years old, accompanied by Mike Cambell, Tom Leadon Benmont Tench and Randall Marsh, was gaining crowds in the Florida bar scene dancing with Mary Jane and just beginning to run down his dream. In 1974 there were a couple of line-up changes and the Heartbreakers proceeded to make rock 'n' roll history.

In 2007, Mudcrutch re-formed and released a self-titled, first studio album. Late 2008 saw the release of Extended Play Live, which comprises four Mudcrutch tracks recorded live from a 2007 tour.

The CD begins with "The Wrong Thing to Do," a jamming track that showcases a familiar thick-toned fender guitar riff, hard drums and a filling bass. Petty starts with an ear-gripping vocal melody and lyrics about his father, with whom Petty never had a good relationship (this has been the topic of many songs throughout his career). Petty swaggers into the chorus singing, "My mamma loves me, but my Daddy don't. / I try to work it all out, but I probably won't … It's the wrong thing to do, but I don't care." Grittier than the Heartbreakers, the song breaks into a wah-ed solo and the audience erupts.

The next track, "Bootleg Flyer," sounds similar to Petty's 1989 hit single, "Runnin' Down a Dream," with it's dance-ridden beat and twangy guitars, but "Flyer" has a more of a dirty, Bo Diddley-esque rhythm feel and is obviously less pop-oriented with a couple of ripping solos.

"Crystal River" showcases the more psychedelic side of Mudcrutch and also gives the album name more sense, considering the song is more than 15 minutes long. Petty slows and softens his voice as he talks about a place where he can't be touched (Crystal River). The track proceeds through ten minutes of jamming with several bass, keyboard and guitar solos before picking-up into an upbeat hip-shaker.

Lastly, Mudcrutch runs off the track somewhat with "High School Confidential," a rock standard by way of Jerry Lee Lewis. Petty runs up and down the bass neck and sings with a deep, quick Elvis feel. Again, amazing guitar work is displayed through solos that seem to scream from just inside the speakers.

With three members of Mudcrutch also in the Heartbreakers, their music sounds influenced, but Petty's shift back to bass and the addition of the old rhythm section sets the band far from the expected pop realm of the Heartbreakers. Mudcrutch is more fun with less constraints and it's showcased on Extended Play Live.