Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers (1999) Echo (LP) Warner Brothers 

Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers



Warner Brothers

Produced by Tom Petty and Mike Campbell with Rick Rubin

*** noteworthy

Tommy and the Heartbreakers tenth set, last album of the 20th century and last one produced with Rick Rubin.

With the aging process settling in on Petty, his state of mind at this time his life, and/or with the push of Rubin, whatever the reason(s), the influences surface and show quite clearly on this set, the Everly Brothers and the Rolling Stones, Bruce Springsteen and Bob Dylan, Neil Young and Ray Davies.

Unlike those artists, nobody is likely to look back at Petty decades from now and revisit some of his works to realize just how valuable they were, but like so many of Petty’s albums, this is certainly worth a spin. Fans should find plenty to enjoy.

— winch (author of )



Prince (1984) Purple Rain LP


Purple Rain

Warner Brothers 26110


Rating:**** (Recommended)
produced by Prince and the Revolution

While Prince had scored a transatlantic hit with “I Wanna Be Your Lover” in 1979, the U.K. had forgotten him after that, and in the beginning, things weren’t looking much more hopeful at home.

Prince avoided promoting himself with interviews but found his tool for promotion with video.  The timing was perfect, with the MTV craze taking off.

At the time, Michael Jackson seemed to be pushing the music video to the max with his epic “Thriller,” but Prince took it a step further–designing a film/album project that cast himself as a superstar.  It was likely a shock for many, but this actually worked.

While Jackson had been crowned the king of pop, Prince was causing some to question that.  Folks might have considered this more carefully if they’d recognized that Prince was doing his thing without an old master like Quincy Jones–a big part of Jackson’s success.

While Prince had previously released five albums, this is the one that made him a superstar.  While 1999  marked the beginning of his rise, Purple Rain shot to the top slot on the charts and remained there for 24 weeks.  This also marked his arrival in the U.K.

Like all his albums, this has highs and lows, but fans should definitely listen to the entire set.  It certainly fits the description of a pop masterpiece.
It didn’t come out of nowhere, but it changed the shape of pop, funk and R&B forever, influenced most everything that followed it.  It took the past and created the future.  And while it mixes lots of styles, it sounds cohesive from start to finish.

While many comps included the hits from this set, fans shouldn’t miss sexy gems such as the infamous “Darling Nikki.”  The album is essential Prince.

— winch (author of…

Malo (1972) LP


Warner Brothers 2584
Produced by David Rubinson

Recommended ****


At a time when the Santana machine was starting to putter, this band hit the streets with all cylinders firing.  The Santana comparisons were inevitable and there’s plenty here to justify the comparisons, including the fact that lead guitarist Jorge Santana often sounded a lot like his brother, but while the guitar licks are sometimes a dominant part of the sound, and occasionally excessive, this band knew when to cut it out, and even the guitar is an integral part of the groove.  Also, this band clearly had its own horn-driven sound.  This is as much an extension of the music of El Chicano as it is an extension of Santana’s sound.

You can also hear a bridge between two places, Latin America and the Bay Area, picking up influences from East LA along the way.  The hard-driving cuts are contrasted with some laid back numbers, and besides the Frisco rock and Oakland funk elements, occasionally hints of a War influence show.
Beyond the comparisons, this band offers a sound all its own.  While they perhaps don’t deliver any cuts that fit into the classic category, there’s more than enough to make this a highly recommended debut album.  They deliver plenty of variety and fuse a lot of styles, but manage to create a tight sound and a cohesive set, and they keep it going strong through both sides.

— winch (author of Kalamazoo and Junk Like That) Widgets Widgets

Prince: 1999 (LP) 1983


Warners 23720
Produced, Arranged, Composed and Performed by Prince

Recommended ****
Released February 1983 (US & UK), reached #4 (#30 in U.K.) 

While he’d released four previous sets, this is the one that marked the beginning of his arrival.  He finally got the sound down and started to take over the world.  The Revolution had clearly began.  The four sides could have been cut down to two but even as it sits, it should be listened to as a whole.  While the entire first side has shown up on compilations, lesser-known gems such as “Lady Cab Driver” are also essential.  On that cut especially, several of his many influences can clearly be heard: Sly Stone, Quincy Jones, Herbie Hancock, and Jimi Hendrix.  Prince’s sound certainly didn’t come out of nowhere, but he brought the influences together and made the thing his own.    

— winch

(author of Kalamazoo: Growing Up Sideways in the 1970s)

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