The jangly notes tripping out of the speakers when you pop this CD in, not just announce the first track – the 18th century traditional ‘Shady Grove’ – but set the tone for the rest of this fantabulous album. But surprise, surprise, those guitar notes are not tweaked out by Tom Petty, who instead chooses to take on bass duties in a band that was banded and disbanded more than three decades ago. A laidback country-rock album, Mudcrutch features the twin guitar magic of Mike Campbell and Tom Leadon, Benmont Tench’s piano and organ, Randall Marsh’s drums and Petty himself on lead vocals and bass.
The first thing that strikes you when you listen to this album is that these guys are having fun out there. And that sense of fun permeates every track on this album – be it boogie-happiness of ‘June Apple’ (another traditional song), the guitar rock of ‘Lover of the Bayou’ (listen out for the leads on this one, especially) or oodles of organ on ‘Crystal River’ (at 9:29, the longest of the 14 tracks). ‘Scare Easy’ carries the trademark Tom Petty sound while the twangy guitars on ‘The Wrong Thing To Do’ are an instant hook. This is one album that might not spring any surprises on it and you will be glad for it. This is good ol’ rock & roll, recorded live and spontaneous. As a note on the CD inlay says “…Recorded live, vocals, harmony, everything. Arrangements done on studio floor. Made in 10 days, no headphones. …A lot of love. Enjoy.” Enjoy we sure will, thank you.
© Bobin James/Rolling Stone India, 2008