REVIEW BY: Melanie Love
ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 02/15/2006
While the farthest thing from a musician myself, I do happen to recognize the importance of a solid greatest hits album. It can't be too bloated or self-indulgent or please every whim of a diehard fan. It has to be accessible enough to draw in any casual listener and entrance them with the obvious, no-frills basics.
That said, this collection of numerous chart-toppers culled from Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers' impressive career (from their earliest hit in 1977 up until 1993) is enough to placate the completists and entertain the newbies.
Though most of the material featured on this disc has been beaten to death by radio over the years, in this context, catchy tracks such as "American Girl" and "I Won't Back Down" get a new lease on life. And what could be more classic than instantly recognizable opening riff and grooving beat of "Mary Jane's Last Dance" or Petty's solo triumph "Free Fallin'"?
This album serves to reinforce just how talented the band were when it came to creating the perfect four minutes of catchy, sing along to the choruses while you speed down the highway type of rock. And of course, a mention has to go towards my favorite from first listen, the slick, somber "Breakdown," which gained the band their first success of many to come in America.
Petty's distinctive, nasal-in-the-most-endearing-way-possible vocals, coupled with guitarist Mike Campbell's ingenious guitar licks, make for an album that flows through the varied material with no discernible pitfalls. Each track is not only listenable but wholeheartedly enjoyable, and with the array of material available to chose from, the selected tracks are top-notch.
Greatest Hits is an ideal introduction for anyone interested in investigating Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers, but do take a note of caution…you're probably about to lose a lot of money purchasing their back catalog from here on in. You're sure to enjoy the ride anyway.