Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers – The Last DJ (2002/2015)
FLAC (tracks) 24 bit/96 kHz | Time – 00:47:56 minutes | 1,03 GB | Genre: Rock
Official Digital Download – Source: Qobuz | © Warner Bros. Records
Recorded: 2001–02 at Cello Studios, Hollywood, California
The Last DJ is the eleventh studio album by Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers. The tracks “The Last DJ”, “Money Becomes King”, “Joe”, and “Can’t Stop the Sun” are attacks on the greediness of the music industry. Although he first claimed that the album and title track were both works of fiction, Petty later admitted that both were inspired by Los Angeles DJ Jim Ladd, although he had already claimed this on Ladd’s radio show, prior to the album’s release.
A “limited edition” digipack version of the album was also released, including a DVD of music videos and other footage shot during the album’s production. The album reached #9 on the Billboard 200 aided by the single “The Last DJ” which hit #22 on Billboard’s Mainstream Rock Tracks in 2002. As of 2010, The Last DJ has sold 353,000 copies in the U.S. according to Nielsen SoundScan.
In an episode of The Simpsons titled “How I Spent My Strummer Vacation”, Homer receives song-writing lessons from Tom Petty, and in the original airing the track “The Last DJ” can be heard playing over the radio in the final scene. The song was changed for syndication. The song “Dreamville” is played at the end of the DVD that was released to commemorate the 2002 Anaheim Angels’ World Series win. The album also marks the return of original Heartbreaker Ron Blair on bass, replacing his own replacement, the ailing Howie Epstein. His return was late in the recording process however, and Petty and Campbell contribute most of the bass work themselves.
Tom Petty has always battled corporations and the music industry — fighting for lower retail prices for Hard Promises, complaining about videos, and always fighting for old-school, artist-first ’60s rock aesthetics. There’s a lot to admire about this stance, especially since he’s essentially right about corporations having too much of a stranglehold on pop music, but it doesn’t provide a solid foundation for an album, as the stultifying The Last DJ illustrates. Not every song on the record is about the death of rock & roll and the evils that corporations do, but it sure feels that way, since it begins with the one-two punch of “The Last DJ” and “Money Becomes King.” The former is a bitter lament for the loss of free thought in pop culture, using the DJ as a truth-telling seer; the latter is a rewrite of “Into the Great Wide Open,” all about a favorite artist who sells out. Both are didactic with their tortured metaphors and stretched narratives, but they seem subtle compared to the fourth song, “Joe,” a heavy-handed tirade about a record company CEO that is unbearable in its awful, vulgar lyrics and is rendered unlistenable by Petty’s hammy vocals; it is easily the worst song he’s ever written. These front-loaded tracks obscure the lovely “Dreamville,” the best song here, and effectively offer an early deathblow to an album that alternately finds Petty muddling through ballads and stumbling through rockers. Though his songcraft serves him well on occasion, it’s only on occasion — the aforementioned “Dreamville,” “You and Me,” “Have Love Will Travel” — and the record’s spare, black-and-white production doesn’t add color to compositions that need it. Throughout The Last DJ, Petty sounds utterly lost — and instead of liberating him like it did in the past, it paralyzes him, boxing him into a corner where he can’t draw on his strengths. It’s the first true flop in a career that, until now, had none. –Stephen Thomas Erlewine
1 The Last DJ 3:31
2 Money Becomes King 5:12
3 Dreamville 3:46
4 Joe 3:16
5 When A Kid Goes Bad 4:51
6 Like A Diamond 4:35
7 Lost Children 4:29
8 Blue Sunday 2:56
9 You And Me 2:56
10 The Man Who Loves Women 2:53
11 Have Love Will Travel 4:06
12 Can’t Stop The Sun 4:52
Tom Petty – guitars, vocals, piano, ukulele, bass on “The Last DJ”, “Money Becomes King”, “Joe”, “Like a Diamond”, “Blue Sunday”, “You and Me”, and “Have Love Will Travel”
Mike Campbell – guitars, bass on “Dreamville”, “When A Kid Goes Bad”, and “The Man Who Loves Women”
Benmont Tench – piano, organ, various keyboards
Scott Thurston – guitar, lap steel guitar, ukulele, background vocals
Steve Ferrone – drums
Ron Blair – bass on “Lost Children” and “Can’t Stop The Sun”
Lenny Castro – percussion
Lindsey Buckingham – background vocals on “The Man Who Loves Women”
Jon Brion – orchestral arrangements and conducting
Producer’s Note: Tom Petty Hi-Res Remastering :: The Hi-Res (24bit 96K) remastering of the Tom Petty catalog reveals a level of detail that was only previously heard by a select group of musicians, producers and engineers in the studio. It’s as close to the sound of original stereo master as you can get. We’re very happy with the way it came out, and believe it’s an important way to preserve the legacy of this great body of work.
If hearing the highest possible sound quality is important to you, then this is where you’ll get it.
The remastering was done in the fall of 2014 by Chris Bellman at Bernie Grundman Mastering. I supervised it and Tom approved it. Great care was taken to find the original first-generation masters and transfer them with minimal eq and little or no dynamic range compression. In cases where the first-generation masters were unusable, we used the best sounding second-generation masters.*
To allow for full dynamic range, and to let the music “breathe” the Hi-Res versions have about 6-8db less digital level than a typical “loud” peak-limited CD or mp3. To enjoy these albums to their fullest extent, play them back though a good system and turn up the volume.
With this increased level of detail and sonic impact, we hope you’ll enjoy rediscovering these great albums as much as we did! —Ryan Ulyate, April 2014