Picks and Pans Review: Hard Promises

updated 06/22/1981 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 06/22/1981 AT 01:00 AM EDT

Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers

Tom finally convinced MCA Records not to list-price this album at $9.98—$1 above standard. Then he contended that $8.98 should be the LP's title. Is that what he really wanted to call it? "A Southern gentleman always means what he says at the time he says it," answers the Gainesville-born Petty. He lost that argument, but no matter. Hard Promises still commemorates the pricing fight and the band's commitment to making a new disc worthy of the last one, 1979's Damn the Torpedoes. Boasting the same seductive '60s trappings, but with Stevie Nicks singing backup on two cuts, this new batch of tunes sails on. The abandoned hero of A Woman in Love (It's Not Me) could well be describing the final round of the love affair that was new in Here Comes My Girl and slipping in Don't Do Me Like That. Petty's throat condition, which stalled recording last year, hasn't permanently hurt his voice, but his next hard promise should be to drop his predilection for ending phrases with an insinuating Dylanesque sneer. Most of the lines that get this treatment don't say as much as the sneer implies.

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