Full Moon Fever Explained

Full Moon Fever
Type:Studio album
Artist:Tom Petty
Border:yes
Released:April 24, 1989
Recorded:1988–89 at M.C. Studios, Rumbo Studios, Sunset Sound, Devonshire Studios, Conway Studios and Sound City Studios
Genre:Heartland rock, rock & roll
Length:39:58
Label:MCA
Producer:Jeff Lynne, Tom Petty, Mike Campbell
Last Album:Let Me Up (I've Had Enough)
(1987)
This Album:Full Moon Fever
(1989)
Next Album:Into the Great Wide Open
(1991)

Full Moon Fever is the first solo album by Tom Petty, though it features contributions from several members of his backing band, the Heartbreakers, along with fellow members of the Traveling Wilburys.[1] [2] The record shows Petty exploring his musical roots with nods to his influences.[3] The songwriting is mainly collaborations between Petty and Jeff Lynne who was also a producer on the album. The album became a commercial and critical success peaking in the top five on the Billboard 200 and being certified 5× platinum in the United States and 6× platinum in Canada.[4] [5] [6]

Background and recording

Petty had just finished a Heartbreakers tour behind the album Let Me Up (I've Had Enough) when he decided to record a new album.[1] Since the songs that Petty and Electric Light Orchestra front man/Traveling Wilbury collaborator Jeff Lynne co-wrote sounded "nothing like Heartbreakers songs,"[3] Petty decided to record the album as a solo effort. At first, this stirred a bit of controversy amongst some of the Heartbreakers, although each one except drummer Stan Lynch, contributed to the album.[1] Recording was a low-key affair, with many of Petty's friends contributing, including the members of the Traveling Wilburys, minus Bob Dylan.[1] A few songs were recorded during the sessions that did not make the album; "Down the Line" and "Don't Treat Me Like A Stranger" were among them, and were released as b-sides. "Traveling" and "Waiting for Tonight" were released on Playback, with the former featuring all the Heartbreakers, including Stan Lynch, and the latter featuring The Bangles. During the sessions, Petty wrote "Indiana Girl," an early draft of what would eventually become "Mary Jane's Last Dance". When playing the songs live, initially, Benmont Tench and Howie Epstein weren't happy about it. Stan Lynch hated it right up until his departure from the band, saying he felt he was in a cover band.

Musical style and themes

The album is noted for being heavily influenced by Jeff Lynne, resulting in a cleaner and glossier version of the Heartbreakers roots rock from previous albums.[1] [2] Lynne incorporated layers of keyboards and backing vocals, giving it a Beatlesque feel.[1] [2] The songs show Petty paying dues to his influences with a Byrds cover ("I'll Feel a Whole Lot Better") and a nod to Del Shannon in "Runnin' Down a Dream." Other songs, such as "Free Fallin'" show Petty addressing nostalgia on his rise to fame.[3]

Release and reception

The album became Petty's commercial peak as an artist, helped by favorable critical reviews and three hit singles.[7] The album was released on April 24, 1989 and rose to eventually peak at #3 on the Billboard 200 and number 8 in the UK.[4] There were five singles released from the album, two hitting the top 20 of the Billboard Hot 100 and three topping the Mainstream Rock chart.[8] The RIAA certified Full Moon Fever 5x platinum on October 5, 2000 and the CRIA certified it 6x platinum on September 18, 1991.[5] [6]

Critical praise was generally high, with Allmusic giving the album 4 and a half stars, admiring the craft of the album and rivaling it with the Heartbreakers' Damn the Torpedoes.[2] This review notes there are no weak tracks on the album. calling it a "minor masterpiece."[2] The original Rolling Stone review compared the album favorably to the Traveling Wilburys first album, Volume 1, saying it has the "same restless charm," but commenting that the album, at times, seems "sprawling."[1] The review claims the album is "another rewarding, low-key side project for Petty," giving it three and a half stars out of five.[1] A later Rolling Stone biographer claims Full Moon Fever was a "masterful solo album."[9]

Track listing

All songs written by Tom Petty and Jeff Lynne, except as indicated.[2]

  1. "Free Fallin'" – 4:14
  2. "I Won't Back Down" – 2:56
  3. "Love Is a Long Road" (Mike Campbell, Petty) – 4:06
  4. "A Face in the Crowd" – 3:58
  5. "Runnin' Down a Dream" (Campbell, Lynne, Petty) – 4:23
  6. "I'll Feel a Whole Lot Better" (Gene Clark) – 2:47
  7. "Yer So Bad" – 3:05
  8. "Depending on You" (Petty) – 2:47
  9. "The Apartment Song" (Petty) – 2:31
  10. "Alright for Now" (Petty) – 2:00
  11. "A Mind with a Heart of Its Own" – 3:29
  12. "Zombie Zoo" – 2:56

"Hello, CD listeners…"

Early pressings of the album on compact disc contain a hidden track at the end of track 5. The interlude, which is referred to in the album credits as "Attention CD Listeners", features a brief tongue-in-cheek monologue by Petty, over a background of barnyard noises made by Petty, Jeff Lynne, and Del Shannon:

Hello, CD listeners. We've come to the point in this album where those listening on cassette, or records, will have to stand up, or sit down, and turn over the record. Or tape. In fairness to those listeners, we'll now take a few seconds before we begin side two. [pause] Thank you. Here's side two.

Personnel

Additional personnel

Charts

Singles

rowspan=2Yearrowspan=2Singlecolspan=4Billboard
Hot 100Mainstream
Rock Tracks
Modern
Rock Tracks
Adult
Contemporary
rowspan=5 valign="top"1989"I Won't Back Down"12129
"Runnin' Down a Dream"231
"Free Fallin'"7117
"I'll Feel a Whole Lot Better"18
"Love Is a Long Road"7
rowspan=2 valign="top"1990"A Face in the Crowd"465
"Yer So Bad"5

Certifications

OrganizationLevelDate
RIAA – U.S.GoldJune 23, 1989
RIAA – U.S.PlatinumJuly 21, 1989
RIAA – U.S.2x PlatinumNovember 9, 1989
RIAA – U.S.3x PlatinumMarch 13, 1990
RIAA – U.S.4x PlatinumAugust 14, 1997
RIAA – U.S.5x PlatinumOctober 5, 2000

Notes and References

  1. Web site: Full Moon Fever Review. 2009-04-26. Rolling Stone.
  2. Web site: [{{Allmusic|class=album|id=r15155|pure_url=yes}} Allmusic Full Moon Fever Review]. 2009-04-26. Allmusic.
  3. Web site: BBC Full Moon Fever Review. 2009-04-26. BBC.
  4. Web site: [{{Allmusic|class=album|id=r15155|pure_url=yes}} Allmusic Chart History Albums]. 2009-04-26. Allmusic.
  5. Web site: RIAA Searchable Database. 2009-04-26. RIAA.
  6. Web site: CRIA Searchable Database. 2009-04-26. CRIA.
  7. Web site: [{{Allmusic|class=artist|id=p5137|pure_url=yes}} Allmusic Tom Petty Bio]. 2009-04-29. Allmusic.
  8. Web site: [{{Allmusic|class=album|id=r15155|pure_url=yes}} Allmusic Chart History Singles]. 2009-04-26. Allmusic.
  9. Web site: Rolling Stone Bio. 2009-04-29. Rolling Stone magazine.