Getting Mojo: 2010's Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers

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I missed Mojo, sort of, when it came out in 2010. I say sort of because I read reviews and chose not to pursue it further.  The reviews came in as low as two stars and averaged three and that did not seem worth the chance. When Hypnotic Eye came out recently, though, and I realized what a great album it is, I decided to give Mojo a try, given that it is the previous album by Tom Petty and the Heart Breakers.

Mojo and Hypnotic Eye are certainly different from those old standards, Damn the Torpedoes and Hard Promises and such—the albums that destined them for the Hall of Fame. Comparing Mojo to those old, canonical works reminds me of Lennon’s nightmare of singing “She Loves You” at thirty; Tom Petty has certainly matured and experimented since putting out those early works, as amazing as they are.

He played and composed for such artists as Harrison, Orbison, Dylan, Lynne, Healy, Clapton, Bonnie Tyler, both Rosanne and Johnny Cash and.... No point in listing everyone here. His band has matured as well. You consider those changes and it is impossible to imagine the new Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers  putting out a rehash of “Refugee” in 2010 on Mojo...or in 2014 with Hypnotic Eye.

Get Your Mojo Goin’

Mojo is a brilliant album.  It’s mostly a blues-jazz fusion, a 2010 album that expands on the 70s fusion albums from Mayall and others.  I wish I had picked it up in 2010, though it is nice to enjoy Hypnotic Eye and Mojo as a sort of double album.

Track one is destined to be an informed American classic, “Jefferson Jericho Blues,” with a candid look at that founding father and his late-night wanderings.  And there you have it—it’s not a light album, musically or lyrically. “High in the Morning” and “Candy” are solid blues, staring down the booze.  More positive, though more controversial as well, is the reggae-inflected “Don’t Pull Me Over” and its legalize-it theme. 

The Cult-Hit Prophecy

Petty and his Heartbreakers had their mojo back in 2010, but it may be the more accepted Hypnotic Eye that directs an audience to 2010’s Mojo. Maybe Rolling Stone got it right, back then in 2010, when it gave it the four-stars stamp.  It seems four stars now.  More interesting though, is ChartAttack’s review, calling it an “incredible disappointment” and exclaiming: “This is a record destined to be a cult hit 10 years from now, recognized as the band's most expansive and sonically adventurous disc.” Well, it’s not ten years, but....