Full Moon Fever

Tom Petty

Review score: 89%

Review Date: April 2013
Reviewer: Paul Jack
Source: Rock Hard Reviews

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This one’s for The H Meister. “I’ve been checking out your site,” he said to Paul Jack late one Saturday night, “and there’s not much about Tom Petty. Is it under T for Tom, P for Petty or H for Heartbreakers?”

So, without further ado, over to Paul Jack..

This album takes me right back to 1989/90. A younger and thinner me met up with a bunch of old mates, and H was there showing off his shiny new Tom Petty CD. Shiny CDs being new and impressive technology back then. Full Moon Fever, Tom’s first solo album and collaboration with ELO’s Jeff Lynne.

It was the start of a great week. First off the boys and girls all met up and celebrations commenced Then our host nipped off for a couple of hours power nap before an overnight drive began. Meanwhile presenter James Whale wished us all a happy holiday live on national TV during the James Whale Radio Show. (That’s right, a radio show that was on the telly. Cool, no?) Then came 2am and a small convoy headed off to the New Forest for a week’s indulgence and accidental Atkins style diet thanks to an over reliance on campfire-scorched meat for the entire week. That’s what you get when you do all your food shopping at the butchers I s’pose.

H happened to have one of those new fangled CD players in his car. As far as I can recall he only took the one CD with him for the week – Full Moon Fever. Which turned out to be just the thing for driving. Lucky really, cos he played that CD end to end that night as we made great time through empty English roads. And when he reached the end of the CD he played it again. And again. All darn week.

Had a short break when Dawn broke and we circled the wagons for a brew up at the side of the road, then more Tom until we reached our destination for a week long adventure, replete with sun, sand, sea, durdle doors, forests, ponies, tents, cans and little brown bottles, footy, touring, footpaths, pubs, driving, Harold Bishop on mini tv, campfires, midnight beach parties sans beach, and on one occasion falling 50 feet down a near-vertical cliff face in the middle of the night and miles from anyone (but fortunately unscathed due to a protective beer jacket). And through it all as we followed a Red Rover in convoy whilst Full Moon Fever looped ever on. And you know what; sometimes it was even the right Red Rover. Well, they do look alike you know.

Playlist recommendations

Free Fallin’

The album begins with the acoustic Free Fallin’, one of the strongest songs on the album and destined for chart success. I remember Tom performing this at a concert, quipping something like “If you know the words, sing it with me, but if you don’t know the words then please don’t.” It’s a terrific nostalgia song about the girl left behind.

I Won’t Back Down

A cool song, full of quiet determination and defiance against the life’s wrongs. Catchy too, and a favourite backing for sports and politicians, but more significantly a theme tune for an America finding its feet after 9/11. I find music to be a great therapy when life kicks you hard. Sometimes angry metal won’t cut it, and that’s when songs like Tom Petty’s “I Won’t Back Down” help you find that quiet resolve inside, focus, and deal.

Runnin’ Down a Dream

What a great riff! Always makes me think of AC/DC’s “Whole Lotta Rosie”, can’t imagine why! Another good tune for driving. Catchy singalong rock which uplifts your spirit with its cheery goodtime sound. Nice.

Feel a Whole Lot better

Tom pays tribute to The Byrds with this cover song. A good rendition of an old classic. Need I say more?

Yer So Bad

More quality guitar playing – acoustic this time. Did I detect a bit of a Beatles sound here? The funny lyrics sound a little dated now of course. Anyone remember what the word yuppie stands for? Bring to mind a chap in white suit and red braces sporting a huge cell phone. But the song is catchy, probably could be called pop rock, and well worth playlisting.

Zombie Zoo

More fun. Harmless, silly and cheery. An entertaining horror movie intro leads into a light hearted rock song. Lyrics are worth listening too, conjuring up some great images. Zombie Zoo is a nice way to round off the album, leaving you on a high note. (Of course there are no duds on this album, so most tracks will leave you on a high note!)

Cover Art

Perfect. Proper retro rock poster art, almost a traffic light. Tom posing with guitar in a classic ‘let me entertain you ladies and gentlemen’ mode.


Tom Petty is of course a master musician and worthy of huge respect. Same goes for everyone else who contributed to this album. Listen closely, especially through headphones, and the quality of the playing stands out clear and crisp.

I reckon there are no weak tracks to be found on Full Moon Fever, If you want some civilised and cheery rock music to accompany you on a long drive then Full Moon Fever is just the thing to for making the miles fly by.

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Track List (may vary)

  • Free Fallin’
  • I Won’t Back Down
  • Love is a Long Road
  • A Face in the Crowd
  • Runnin’ Down a Dream
  • Feel a Whole Lot Better
  • Yer So Bad
  • Depending On You
  • The Apartment Song
  • Alright For Now