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How was Full Moon Fever initially received by fans?

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1 hour ago, Shelter said:

And then what? Well, the girl drove off (next time I saw her, she was listening to The Rembrants) and I rode my bike right home to my dad's record collection to dig out Long After Dark, to restart my lifelong journey with Tom Petty properly.

Dang! So cool how a moment in time... an experience unrealized in the moment... can be a major building block of who we are today. 

Goose Bumps !! 

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Well, it's understandable that the Heartbreakers as well as some (all?) fans didn't like the album at the beginning.

1) Heartbreakers: Tom and the band sort of hit a low point in the mid eighties, creatively. Let Me Up was not very successful and neither was the tour behind it. Then all of a sudden Tom is working on great material and the Heartbreakers are not welcomed (except Mike). How would anybody react to that? You hear something and you know it's great, but it's different from what you've been doing and you're obviously not planned to be part of it... that's tough. I think when Howie came to the session when he could have recorded the bass for Free Fallin' and said he didn't like the song, he already felt like an outsider. Or an intruder. And Benmont got told what to play, Stan wasn't even invited... (even though they sure had their reasons for that)

2) Fans: I came to know and love Tom's music through ITGWO and Wildflowers. These are mellower albums with a focus on the acoustic guitar. Or layers of acoustic guitars. :lol: So Full Moon Fever was perfectly in the same vein (it came out earlier, but I discovered it later). I'm sometimes having a hard time with the band's bluesier side (as some Farmers might remember :D). So I did not like all of the earlier stuff when I first heard it and do still not like most of Mojo and Hypnotic Eye. I imagine when it's the other way round - you're a fan from the first or second album on, maybe since Damn The Torpedoes, and here comes Jeff Lynne through your speakers all of a sudden with lots of acoustics and layered Instrumentation - it's a similar feeling: What you loved about the band is put aside while Tom is flexing his singer/songwriter muscle. I can see why not everybody liked/likes that.

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On ‎01‎.‎11‎.‎2017 at 11:15 AM, Shelter said:

I for one can see how Stan would have suffered some, trying to stay alive creatively through some eras, had he stayed. Stan much more  so than say Ben (or Mike, who seemed to alwas to stay on the bright side ). And for me as a listener, I'm not sure I would have benefited much either, from hearing Stan on Wildflowers sessions, or on the lion parts of Echo or Last DJ. Very few songs there feels right for him and even fewer of the ideas on how to produce the stuff. He would be largely obsolete in that context. In the same way I also doubt I would have felt much difference, had it been Steve on ITGWO, for that matter. Stan is there, but he's not really there. All of it is a transitional era, where the drumming became as much a wallpaper as an integral instrument, is what I'm saying. That's how I hear it.

I think on FMF and ITGWO, you can hear Tom anticipating Steve. Blame Jeff Lynne for that, maybe. That's the aesthetic Tom was after, drumwise, and Stan did not fit the picture. Personal issues aside.

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My first copy of this was a cassette copy of the CD when it came out.  I liked it .  Played it quite a bit with headphones.   Lots of great songs on this CD , and one of my top 5 TP & HB CDs. 

Someone mentioned the Stan interviews .  I first saw them on the Disney Channel's " going home " series.   It came out around the time of the greatest hits CD. 

Great posts here.  On a side note his cover of the Byrd's tune added money into Gene Clark's bank account , which was good for Gene.  

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On November 29, 2017 at 9:30 AM, TwoGunslingers said:

Let Me Up was not very successful and neither was the tour behind it. Then all of a sudden Tom is working on great material and the Heartbreakers are not welcomed (except Mike). How would anybody react to that? You hear something and you know it's great, but it's different from what you've been doing and you're obviously not planned to be part of it... that's tough.

 I think you nailed this.

 

On November 29, 2017 at 9:30 AM, TwoGunslingers said:

I imagine when it's the other way round - you're a fan from the first or second album on, maybe since Damn The Torpedoes, and here comes Jeff Lynne through your speakers all of a sudden with lots of acoustics and layered Instrumentation - it's a similar feeling: What you loved about the band is put aside while Tom is flexing his singer/songwriter muscle. I can see why not everybody liked/likes that.

 Valid point though I think the songwriting of Full Moon Fever was so good that it even trumped people turned off by Lynne's approach. There's no doubt that a Tom Petty renewal started with this album and continued through Wildflowers, those albums plus the Greatest Hits gave them a longevity they may not have enjoyed otherwise, who knows? As far as big hits goes, that seemed to stop with Walls but the strength of Full Moon Fever, Into the Great Wide Open, Wildlfowers and Greatest Hits plus their regular touring kept them going; quite a turn around from Let Me Up.

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18 hours ago, MaryJanes2ndLastDance said:

 I think you nailed this.

 

 Valid point though I think the songwriting of Full Moon Fever was so good that it even trumped people turned off by Lynne's approach. There's no doubt that a Tom Petty renewal started with this album and continued through Wildflowers, those albums plus the Greatest Hits gave them a longevity they may not have enjoyed otherwise, who knows? As far as big hits goes, that seemed to stop with Walls but the strength of Full Moon Fever, Into the Great Wide Open, Wildlfowers and Greatest Hits plus their regular touring kept them going; quite a turn around from Let Me Up.

Thanks. So did you. :)

As far as Let Me Up goes, its review in Uncut's Ultimate Music Guide takes an interesting standpoint that I have never come across outside the Farm (and Bill Flanagan's praise in RDAD), calling it one of Petty and the band's most underrated albums.

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5 hours ago, TwoGunslingers said:

As far as Let Me Up goes, its review in Uncut's Ultimate Music Guide takes an interesting standpoint that I have never come across outside the Farm (and Bill Flanagan's praise in RDAD), calling it one of Petty and the band's most underrated albums.

 Interesting. It's an odd album. It's short but drags at times. It's somber, experimental and weird. Some upbeat numbers are catchy and bland. My Life/Your World is a pretty good song with a good groove and doesn't sound like anything else they'd done to that point.

I think I prefer hearing the songs on their own then listening to the whole album at one time. It feels like a "kitchen sink" album, them throwing everything out there. If towards the end of their career they were more prone to play blues and covers on their own without audience expectations when they rehearsed, this record sounds like what they were prone to do back then.

 I like the title track quite a bit, would've made a good live song for them to jam on. As a whole it's different and perhaps was a necessary part of their artistic growth but it's rare that I want to listen to the whole thing in one go.

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On ‎27‎.‎01‎.‎2018 at 6:10 PM, MaryJanes2ndLastDance said:

If towards the end of their career they were more prone to play blues and covers on their own without audience expectations when they rehearsed,

That reminds me of a - probably controversial - bit I was especially pleased with: The guy who wrote the review on Mojo said that on that album they were proiritising chops over tunes, which is often a trap when the blues form the musical bedrock. I've always felt that way but couldn't have put it that succinctly.

 

Sorry, off topic.

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7 hours ago, TwoGunslingers said:

That reminds me of a - probably controversial - bit I was especially pleased with: The guy who wrote the review on Mojo said that on that album they were proiritising chops over tunes, which is often a trap when the blues form the musical bedrock. I've always felt that way but couldn't have put it that succinctly.

Yeah, let's sidestep the topic for a few moments more. That way of thinking w/r/t Mojo caught my eye as well. I have pondered such things myself and that is definately another "way in" so to speak, to my understanding of Mojo as a scattered experience. The idea may suggest that the album may be heard as a number of extravagant swatches rather than a tight and genuinely focused album (that "unrealized" album being a "blues album" or whatever the awesome but mildly detached parts of it may suggest to you). To what extent this "chops" oriented way of viewing Mojo, is to be contributed specifically to some of the songs being blues:y or rather to the way the album was recorded or to something completely else - a desire to show off, a desire to have fun or whatever - I am not the man to say. It may be - like you say - that these things happen more easily when musicians "go blues". (Blues is definitely more of a virtuoso game than garage or punk, but then again, is it THAT much blues? Perhaps - and I guess that is what the writer suggests - it's enough blues for TPATH to get "high and lost" a bit in it.) Whatever the case, the mere length of the album also helps to create the effect of Mojo being a display of exquisite performances as much as an album of effective rock songs. Then again, unlike this reviewer, I think that in there is more than enough really good, catchy and groovy qualities to salvage both a good list of tunes and the album as such. Some of it, chops et al, just needs to be trimmed, is all. Either way, interesting perspective. 

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On 26/10/2017 at 4:03 PM, Shelter said:

You mean he's the liver?

The heart and soul would be Brian Jones. And by now we all know just how far and wide some could go without neither.  ;)

It reminds me of this quote about the Beach Boys :

"Brian Wilson is the brains of the Beach Boys. Carl Wilson was the heart of the Beach Boys. Dennis Wilson was the soul of the Beach Boys. And Mike Love is the asshole of the Beach Boys." :P

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8 hours ago, TwoGunslingers said:

The guy who wrote the review on Mojo said that on that album they were proiritising chops over tunes, which is often a trap when the blues form the musical bedrock

       It's the songwriting. I understand how some people may not enjoy some extending guitar soloing but I think the album works and doesn't work based upon the foundation that Mike is painting over. First Flash of Freedom is about the mood, it's not about a succinct theme but rather a deep dive into the music, but only because the underlying chord progression and vocal melody work. I took a peek at the wikipage for the album and noticed that only a few songs are around the six minute mark, the rest fall somewhere between three and five. A bit longer than past TPATH songs but again, this record was a deliberate step outside their comfort zone.

  I think the "chops" argument gains a bit of validity however in that unlike a lot of TPATH songs where Mike comes in with the perfect riff or lead that has its own unique, catchy and memorable sound that people remember, the songs and solos on Mojo don't seem to have those moments. The playing is good but there isn't anything special about it. The outro to Running Down A Dream has a distinct feel and melody, I can hear the song in my head but I can't for any of the solos from Mojo, save maybe I Should Have Known, but that song is more a bunch of catchy riffs fused together. 

 But that's fine for me, I enjoy listening to Mike solo even if nothing is particularly unique about it. And as something different within their discography Mojo makes for a nice change.

For me, Mojo works when the songs are good or an attempt at something different like Pirates Cove and fails when it seems like poorly done carbon copies of typical blues progressions, like Candy or a lot of the other songs on the album. That's why I listen to an abbreviated version of the record, since some of the songs are dull.

 Going off topic is fine, it can make for interesting discussion.

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^ Well. Again, this seem to confirm that while many albums (certainly FMF) has "everything to some listeners" (and a lot to the rest), Mojo seem to be more about "at least something to every listener". Thus, again, too scattered in terms of "album", since almost all possible albums are hinted at, none finished. And too long.. well.. not so much in minutes as in songs. I think very few albums can handle more than 10-12 different songs and fully shine.

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20 hours ago, Shelter said:

To what extent this "chops" oriented way of viewing Mojo, is to be contributed specifically to some of the songs being blues:y or rather to the way the album was recorded or to something completely else - a desire to show off, a desire to have fun or whatever - I am not the man to say. It may be - like you say - that these things happen more easily when musicians "go blues". (Blues is definitely more of a virtuoso game than garage or punk, but then again, is it THAT much blues? Perhaps - and I guess that is what the writer suggests - it's enough blues for TPATH to get "high and lost" a bit in it.)

I think Mojo is mostly about a band playing together without too much emphasis on songwriting, but on the interplay of the musicians, and the very qualities (and shortcomings) that brings. While Mojo itself is by no standards strictly blues, the same principle often applies when bands decide to do blues. Not the Robert Johnson/Blind Lemon Jefferson/John Lee Hooker kind of "original" or "real" blues, of course, but the more modern approach of Bonamassa and the like.

Full Moon Fever is almost contrary to that. It's not about interplay at all, it's about songs and sound. And while a record could turn out perfectly fine with the songwriting intact and no emphasis on interplay between a band at all (as FMF demonstrates), the same cannot be said - for my taste at least - when a band more or less abandons songwriting and relies exclusively on the chops of the players. Then you hear a bunch of guys playing, but you can't exactly tell what and why.

Not that I think Mojo is such an Album; but it definitely leans more toward that extreme. There is still evidence that a master songwriter was at work here; but for my taste, too little.

19 hours ago, MaryJanes2ndLastDance said:

For me, Mojo works when the songs are good or an attempt at something different like Pirates Cove and fails when it seems like poorly done carbon copies of typical blues progressions, like Candy or a lot of the other songs on the album. That's why I listen to an abbreviated version of the record, since some of the songs are dull.

I feel the same way.

14 hours ago, Shelter said:

^ Well. Again, this seem to confirm that while many albums (certainly FMF) has "everything to some listeners" (and a lot to the rest), Mojo seem to be more about "at least something to every listener".

Couldn't have said it better myself.

 

14 hours ago, Shelter said:

Thus, again, too scattered in terms of "album", since almost all possible albums are hinted at, none finished. And too long.. well.. not so much in minutes as in songs.

Not so sure about that, though. Somehow it maintains a certain feel or mood or at least the notion of a certain approach that is different from earlier albums. In my opinion, therefore, Petty, the record maker, did perfectly right by putting Mojo together as an album; Petty the songwriter could have ran a few more quality checks. ;)

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3 hours ago, TwoGunslingers said:

Not so sure about that, though. Somehow it maintains a certain feel or mood or at least the notion of a certain approach that is different from earlier albums. In my opinion, therefore, Petty, the record maker, did perfectly right by putting Mojo together as an album; Petty the songwriter could have ran a few more quality checks. ;)

Yeah, well.. there is something to that. Perhaps I should straighten out my rash statement (it itched...) above. To say that many different styles can definitely share the roof of one album. In fact, too much sameness can do the ever important album dynamics as much harm as too much disjoint and far separated expressions can. But there is, to me (and not to you, then) something in the vibe on Mojo that does not quite glue it all together in an optimal way. Something that may go at least some ways beyond the very compulsive virtuoso tendencies themselves. (And again, the sheer length of the album help making these cracks all the more noticeble (to me), help throwing the balance to some extent.)

Now, there would be various ways to "fix" this as I see it (and this may perhaps have been covered in a Mojo thread somewhere). One way obviously would be to cut away at some of the "chops" abundance discussed, focusing on the songs. Another way would be to cut some of the artistically rather repititive blues:y mateiral that may come around one or two times too many - wich in my taste, again, tend to disturbe the natural flow, dynamics, mix (whatever the word) and that then would make it a better mounted and balanced album. Yet another way would then be to cut some of the more pop or trademark Tom mellow-light-rock efforts out of the mix, in order to make it even more a straight blues album, but this method I would personally advice against. Especially if the object is not to put all the listeners to sleep... Anyway.. these are very complex and detailed aspects... 

Over all, as far as Mojo goes, I can agree that the focus seem to be more on the jam than on the song, at least on three or four occassions. And I think realizing this, as the reviewer did and as some of us seem to do, really open up some interesting ways to view the album. But that is not to deny that there is great song writing enough in there to make it a greater album, had they been so inclined. I am convinced of it. Again, it's at least as much about the sheer overkill as it is about any lack of song quality or character. 

I can also agree we are still off topic. Ah, the freedom of the internets...

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7 hours ago, TwoGunslingers said:

I think Mojo is mostly about a band playing together without too much emphasis on songwriting, but on the interplay of the musicians, and the very qualities (and shortcomings) that brings.

   I don't recall much of the making of the record other than the band playing together in the room and how refreshing it was for all of them. My impression is Tom laid out a framework for some songs and they went with it, with an eye towards indulgence rather than their usual tighter approach. Maybe some songs emerged on the spot too, like Swingin' from Echo. What's the difference between that and something like Good Enough? Both are pretty lengthy, is it the lyrical quality, the melody that one would prefer the former to the latter? Again, it would seem its less about chops and more about the basic song structure.

cheers

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7 hours ago, TwoGunslingers said:

And while a record could turn out perfectly fine with the songwriting intact and no emphasis on interplay between a band at all (as FMF demonstrates), the same cannot be said - for my taste at least - when a band more or less abandons songwriting and relies exclusively on the chops of the players. Then you hear a bunch of guys playing, but you can't exactly tell what and why.

 I get your point. In the end, it's the finished album/song that counts not how it was achieved. And I agree, "chops" are having the skill to execute one's ideas. Though you don't need chops to create a good rock song or album. But chops without a song is like a football team practicing without ever playing a game for real.

cheers

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7 hours ago, TwoGunslingers said:

In my opinion, therefore, Petty, the record maker, did perfectly right by putting Mojo together as an album; Petty the songwriter could have ran a few more quality checks.

 A couple years ago I shared my truncated version of Mojo and right off the bat someone said I eliminated their favorite songs! So another quality check could just end up derailing the album for someone else. ;)

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3 hours ago, Shelter said:

Something that may go at least some ways beyond the very compulsive virtuoso tendencies themselves. (And again, the sheer length of the album help making these cracks all the more noticeble (to me), help throwing the balance to some extent.)

 I agree. For me, the songs I like from Mojo all have a distinct riff, vibe, chord progression versus what I feel are songs that are a boring blues pastiche. I zero in on Candy because musically it sounds like the most cliche attempt at the blues coupled with terrible lyrics, the whole thing feels like something that was fun for them to play but nowhere near the quality of something like Pirates Cover or I Should Have Known It. Hey, we're going to play some blues...as a random live improv it's fine but as part of an already long album it's terrible. In my opinion.

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3 hours ago, Shelter said:

Now, there would be various ways to "fix" this as I see it (and this may perhaps have been covered in a Mojo thread somewhere). One way obviously would be to cut away at some of the "chops" abundance discussed, focusing on the songs.

 But the "chops" are part of what make this a different record for them. Most of their songs are on the shorter side; to remove the extended playing would be to just offer up another TPATH record instead of an attempt at something new.

3 hours ago, Shelter said:

Another way would be to cut some of the artistically rather repititive blues:y mateiral that may come around one or two times too many - wich in my taste, again, tend to disturbe the natural flow, dynamics, mix (whatever the word) and that then would make it a better mounted and balanced album.

 This makes more sense to me and with the current technology enables one to customize their own Mojo; so for people who enjoy Candy can have that track. It's like a buffet, take what you want. But in theory, yes, I agree, eliminating the "repetitive bluesy material" is the way to go. There's nothing exciting about TPATH playing cliche blues progressions; they seem to just slump into what they enjoy listening to and replicating that instead of offering up something unique. 

Plus I think the album could've benefited by a few more tracks in the style of I Should Have Known, focusing on Mike's guitar playing doesn't just mean bluesy groove songs but could've also meant some heavier riffs in a more succinct style to balance against the longer songs.

 

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On 31.1.2018 at 8:06 PM, MaryJanes2ndLastDance said:

Though you don't need chops to create a good rock song or album.

I would even say chops can seriously get in the way of a good rock song or album.

Petty once said "It ain't rock and roll once it's an English class", referring to analyzing his lyrics.... but the same applies to musical chops. It ain't rock and roll once it's a music class / guitar / piano / vocal / drum lesson. A big part of rock and roll - though certainly not all of it! - is musical dilettantism. It's the place where individual expression comes from.

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39 minutes ago, TwoGunslingers said:

I would even say chops can seriously get in the way of a good rock song or album.

Which was kinda the point in this case.

39 minutes ago, TwoGunslingers said:

Petty once said "It ain't rock and roll once it's an English class", referring to analyzing his lyrics.... but the same applies to musical chops. It ain't rock and roll once it's a music class / guitar / piano / vocal / drum lesson. A big part of rock and roll - though certainly not all of it! - is musical dilettantism. It's the place where individual expression comes from.

Very well put! Key arguments there, as far as I'm concerned. (I mean out of key arguments, of course.. Spot on!)

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