Let Me Up (I've Had Enough)

Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers

MCA, 1987


REVIEW BY: Christopher Thelen


Coming off a series of tour dates with Bob Dylan, one would have expected Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers -- who in some senses shared musical similarities with Dylan, especially with Petty’s vocal delivery at times -- to be re-energized when it came time to hit the studio again.

The end result, Let Me Up (I’ve Had Enough), is one of the more neglected albums in the Petty discography by fans and critics alike. Is there a reason that Petty excluded only this disc when the Heartbreakers’ first Greatest Hits disc was compiled? After all, this album did have “Jammin’ Me” on it -- admittedly, not one of the band’s greatest numbers, despite being co-written by Dylan himself, but by no means a failure.

While the disc features many musical ideas that could have used another coat of paint or two, the end result is, not surprisingly, that the band had been re-energized by their tour with Dylan, and the music featured in these eleven songs often showed the band willing to take additional chances they hadn’t even tried on their previous studio effort, Southern Accents.

The problem with this is that, frankly, Petty my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250 isn’t Dylan, and the off-the-cuff style of delivery and playing that often peppers this disc just doesn’t fit the Heartbreakers’ style of music. So what could have been a very exciting album often smacks of what could have been, to the point that Petty ended up retreating for a time and started a solo career.

The opening salvos of this disc are fairly impressive and lead the listener to think that, despite a few undeveloped ideas, that Let Me Up (I’ve Had Enough) is going to be one of the more powerful Heartbreakers albums out there. The opening track “Jammin’ Me,” despite some lyrical landmines, is a jangly masterpiece. (Sample lyric: “Take back Vanessa Redgrave / Take back Joe Piscopo / Take back Eddie Murphy / But give ‘em all some place to go.” What the hell is that supposed to mean, for crissake?!?)

The opening synthesizer line to “Runaway Trains” seems to spell an exciting new style for the Heartbreakers, and it indeed proves to be a fairly decent track, though I personally would have liked a little more lyrical development in the chorus. Similarly, some people might not like the Oriental influence of “It’ll All Work Out,” thanks to the mandolin work, but to this listener, it was a very refreshing change of pace.

If only the bulk of this disc were as strong as these three tracks. “The Damage You’ve Done” isn’t bad, but one wonders who pissed Petty off to make him pen the words in this one, and it comes off a bit tepid in its anger. Likewise, “All Mixed Up” and the title track aren’t bad, per se, but they feel either like leftovers in the Heartbreakers’ catalog, or songs that were rushed out before they were ready for the big time.

Then, there are the tracks that just don’t work. “A Self Made Man” almost sounds like Petty’s ode to Dylan, in terms of how he delivers his vocals and how the rhythm of the song is all over the place. Sorry, guys, but this is one that shouldn’t have left the cutting room floor. Likewise, “Think About Me” and “How Many More Days” are tracks that needed much more development before they saw the inside of a recording studio, much less have been pressed into wax or burned into aluminum and polycarbonate.

This doesn’t mean that Let Me Up (I’ve Had Enough) is a terrible album; indeed, you can hear at times the germination of what became Petty’s solo career. But if this disc signaled anything, it was that the Heartbreakers were in dire need of a vacation.

Rating: C

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© 2008 Christopher Thelen and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of MCA, and is used for informational purposes only.