Thursday, January 10, 2013

Tom Petty-Southern Accents

Southern Accents
With 1985's Southern Accents, Petty and the boys decided to add some experiments to the album, adding touches of new waves and psychedelica to the mix this time. Southern Accents is a winner, while not as popular as some of Petty's other albums Southern Accents is one of Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers most rewarding albums. Highlights include the opener Rebels, the psychedelic Don't Come Around Here No More, the ballad Southern Accents, Spike, and the Best of Everything. Do yourself a favor and get the highly underrated Southern Accents. It's hard to imagine after hearing this album for the first time that in fact during the mixing process, Tom Petty punched a concrete wall in anger, crushing the bones in his hand.
A few seemingly irrelevant songs aside, "Southern Accents" succeeds as one of the best pieces of music to aptly describe life and points of view in the modern American South. Though Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers are often identified as heartland rockers, and a great American institution like apple pie and Eisenhower, it's sometimes forgotten that Petty is in fact from Florida, farther down from Dixie than the narrator in the brilliantly written and arranged opening track 'Rebels.'
Fans then and now tend to set "Southern Accents" apart as an experiment of sorts, as its technological advances being far removed from the straight-ahead rocking riffs and hooks that buoyed their previous albums, benchmarks of American rock n' roll such as "Damn the Torpedoes" and the broader "Hard Promises." Producer David A. Stewart's influence is apparent, as the record is in most places distinctly 80s, but that was the point - to express life in the modern South, not the eras of Jefferson Davis or George Wallace. And despite the stereotype, we Southerners don't live under a rock that shields us from modern advances; bayous, deserts, dense hills - yes, but not under any rocks.

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