Let Me Up (I’ve Had Enough) (1987)
If 1994’s Wildflowers is Petty’s Harvest Moon, 1987’s miserably unpopular Let Me Up (I’ve Had Enough) is his Re*ac*tor: the album on which the preoccupied and burnt-out star of the show audibly checks out. The album’s worthiness, however, is a matter of perspective. View it not as a lousy Tom Petty And The Heartbreakers album but as the Tom Petty And The Heartbreakers album on which Mike Campbell takes charge, and Let Me Up (I’ve Had Enough) begins to look pretty compelling. Get beyond the abominable cover art and the mostly-forgettable tunes and the album becomes a showcase for Campbell, who wrote the lion’s share of many of its songs, including the should-have-been-a-hit “Runaway Trains,” the Dire Straits-y “My Life / Your World,” and the Dylanesque “All Mixed Up.” Though Campbell is not quite the tunesmith Petty is, despite having written or co-written some pretty big hits himself, his comparatively austere, workmanlike intensity contrasts nicely with Petty’s ubiquitous id, and provides a direct line to torch-carrying bands like the War On Drugs, who probably love this record. The lyrics are all over the place, including haymakers thrown at Iranian torture, acid rain, El Salvador, country clubs, and, err, front wheel drive. They are best ignored. Let Me Up (I’ve Had Enough) holds the distinction of being the only Tom Petty And The Heartbreakers album not represented on the 1993 Greatest Hits collection; even the album’s lone single, “Jammin’ Me,” co-written with Bob Dylan and featuring dated references to Vanessa Redgrave, Eddie Murphy, and Joe Piscipo, is conspicuously absent. Though it frequently simmers when it should be sizzling, Let Me Up (I’ve Had Enough) is not without its charms.