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Tom Petty Speaks the Truth (4/18/2103) Write to CD Shakedown
Tom PettyTom Petty and the Heartbreakers, The Last DJ (Warner Bros. 2002) - During a career stretching back to the 70's, Tom Petty has earned the devotion of his fans through his integrity and dedication to his craft. The Last DJ sounds like, well, a Tom Petty album.

I'm not going to get all mushy and proclaim that The Last DJ will save the rock world. It's a fine collection, made by a superb rock band, including Mike Campbell on guitars and bass, Benmont Tench on keyboards, Scot Thurston on guitar and lap steel guitar, and Steve Ferrone on drums. Appearing on two tracks is original bass player Ron Blair (more on that below). The album was produced by George Drakoulias, who also produced Wildflowers.

Tom PettyNo, what we really like about Tom Petty is his attitude. Petty has credibility to a factor of ten, because he never sold out to the man. Don Henley and the Eagles charge $100 plus for tickets to their show. Hey, they can get it. But Petty refuses to give in to the pressures of such greed, as his tickets top out in the $50 range.

Comments Petty, "Rich people aren't fun to play to. You want people there who make average incomes, because they might appreciate it more. And a rock show is still just a rock show. I've never seen one that is worth $100...Everyone seems so concerned with making as much money as can possibly be made. It used to be okay to turn a healthy profit, but you didn't have to take every damned dime you could...It's completely accountant-driven now."

Tom PettyWhich leads to the title track, followed by the Jon Brion-embellished "Money Becomes King." Explains Petty, "Picking on the record business is like shooting fish in a barrel. But it's a good metaphor and one that I know quite well. You could substitute the business of your choice...Let me be clear: I don't have any war with the music business personally...Luckily, I'm in the position now where I can deliver albums, and they're very nice to me."

Tom PettyPetty saves one of the best tracks towards the latter half, the get-along rocker, "You and Me." Like Bruce Springsteen's overlooked gem "If I Should Fall Behind" from Lucky Town, Petty's been around long enough to understand that personal relationships are important, and should be protected.

Petty (now age 52) recently married Dana York, putting behind the personal problems that surfaced in his 1999 divorce album, Echo. Says the singer, "I think I work best when I'm happy, when I feel good."

Tom PettyPetty adds to his credibility by his list of pet peeves, including the $20 price ticket for new CDs. Says the singer, "You wouldn't have the problem of people stealing music off the computer if the records were still $8 or $9. If you made records more affordable, you'd actually sell so many more, you wouldn't notice the difference financially. But to do that, everyone has to take less. Very hard to pull off."

TV does even less for him. "I think television's become a downright dangerous thing. It has no moral barometer whatsoever. If you want to talk about something that is all about money, just watch the television. It's damned dangerous. TV does not care about you or what happens to you. It's downright bad for your health now, and that's not a far-out concept. I think watching TV news is bad for you. It's bad for your physical health and your mental health."

Tom Petty And finally, Petty recognizes that the music business today makes no effort to build a future. Says Petty, "An act like our wouldn't even be around today if someone hadn't brought us along and let us make mistakes and grow at our own pace. Today it seems that if you don't have a hit - or even if you do - they have no use for you the next time. It's like, 'Well, why wait for these guys to come back with another hit when we can bring in someone else.' It's an asinine way to conduct yourself. These people are looking at balance sheets, not music."

As a sad note, former long time bass player Howie Epstein recently died of a drug overdoes in New Mexico. At the time The Last DJ was released, Epstein had drifted away and hadn't contacted Petty in more than a year, said Petty. "His personal problems were vast and serious and going on for a long time. We tried everything we could to reach him but it got to the point where his ability to do gigs was diminishing.

Tom Petty"He'd show up five minutes before a gig, and then we wouldn't see him again five minutes before the next gig. Eventually we realized that we were just contributing to the problem. When you're living a life where you really don't have any responsibilities, it's easy for evil forces to take over. But we loved him like a brother. I mean, God, we grew up together."

So you'll buy The Last DJ because you support the man and his views, on songs like "When a Kid Goes Bad" and "Lost Children." You may not play it on a regular basis. But you'll know that Petty is a fellow rock-n-roller, a man firmly rebelling against the system, yet also able to see the decaying forces of contemporary society. Long live Tom Petty.

Renee CologneRenee Cologne, The Opposite Of (Backdoor Records 2002) - The Opposite Of is a labor of love by singer Renee Cologne. The holder of a recording engineering degree, who graduated magna cum laude from Berklee College of Music, Renee has terrific credentials. The Opposite Of gives her a showcase.

The ten-song collection was written, produced and recorded by Renee. Musicians joining her include Candace DeBartolo on saxes, Kevin Cordt on trumpet, Hiroko Taguchi on violin, Mary Wooten on cello, and Mike Stanzilis on bass. Renee contributed all string arrangements, drum programing, keyboard, guitars, and vocals.

Renee CologneRenee has a breathy voice and an ear for clear production. Thus, "Sylvia Says" is a slick number, while "Need" has a synth feel, backed by the ever-present drum machine. Also, listen for the percussive sway of "Sciatica."

The Opposite Of is a self-made album, and an ample display of Renee's talents. It's a little sterile to my ears; I'd rather hear her in a more organic setting, with live musicians and a real drummer.

Renee CologneFor more information contact:

Ms. Renee Cologne
Backdoor Records
P.O. Box 6015
Hoboken, New Jersey 07030

- Randy Krbechek © 2003

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