Mudcrutch is the band Tom Petty was in before he became an American hero. It was formed in 1970 by Petty and Tom Leadon and since it split the other players have all continued to work as musicians, quite successfully until you compare them to Petty.
Petty reformed Mudcrutch a while back and an album came out in 2008 (!!), this being the second. All the band members contribute songs, and while it sounds like a Petty album, there are some differences. We’d guess Petty is remembering his youth — the opening line is “I graduated high school” — and those years’ simplicity, before he was rock god; the next lines are “I bought a trailer / In a little park / By the side of the road”.
It mostly lacks the slickness of Petty, or in other words, it lacks what made Petty a superstar and not just any other rock/country performer. What makes is better than many another bands is Petty’s voice; Mudcrutch are like a low octane Petty and not bad at all.
Opener, the aforementioned Trailer, is good, with harmonica and a bit of a Bob Dylan vibe going on. Dreams of Flying sounds like (and has a title like) a Tom Petty tune. It’s a bit of a classic, actually, and has a good guitar solo (Mike Campbell — Petty plays bass). Beautiful Blue is also good, but then so is World Beautiful, written and sung by drummer Randall Marsh, more of a folksy country song, as is the rolling The Other Side Of The Mountain, written and sung by Tom Leadon.
Although low key, there are plenty of catchy hooks and the music meanders from rock to country to rockabilly (Welcome To Hell). “Meander” is the word: it lacks the focus of a Tom Petty album but that’s for the better, as it’s more varied.