Touring with Bob Dylan must have inspired Petty and band to keep it simple in the studio for their next album. (Too bad Bob couldn’t have done the same.) Sure enough, the credits for Let Me Up (I’ve Had Enough) read “all instruments and voices by Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers”. No horns or female vocalists here, just the band. The concepts and experiments of Southern Accents are left behind. There are even a few odd interludes and snippets, just like on the equally straight Damn The Torpedoes.
The album does indeed rock. “Jammin’ Me” (co-written with Dylan) is the only song we know that mentions Joe Piscopo, while “Runaway Trains” seems to be cut from the same cloth musically and lyrically as Don Henley’s “The Boys Of Summer” (a huge hit that originated in Mike Campbell’s garage studio). “The Damage You’ve Done” and “How Many More Days” fade in out of what seem to be extended jams, and just to keep the dynamics fresh, “It’ll All Work Out” is a sighing lament based around mandolins and acoustics. It’s a good palette cleanser for “My Life/Your World”, which gets by on a robotic drum track and outmoded keyboards but what now sound like astute observations on baby boomers and what had yet to be called Generation X. (By the way, the acoustic part indexed at the start of the track would later be named as “Mike’s Life/Mike’s World”.)
“Think About Me” and “A Self-Made Man” are just plain fun rockers taken from two different directions, just as “Ain’t Love Strange” is decent pop; all improvements on the tense rock of Long After Dark. “All Mixed Up” might have been a decent soul track if they used better canned horns, but it’s possibly the only clunker here. Finally, the title track is a great lost outtake from Exile On Main St.
The album wasn’t a huge commercial hit, and deserved better. While certain aspects of the production haven’t aged well, Let Me Up (I’ve Had Enough) remains a straightforward blast of gutbucket rock ‘n roll—highly welcome at a time when such a sound had all been but lost.
Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers Let Me Up (I’ve Had Enough) (1987)—3½