Mudcrutch, the legendary Florida band featuring Tom Petty, Tom Leadon, Randall Marsh, Mike Campbell, and Benmont Tench, releases their debut album on Reprise Records today.
MUDCRUTCH TRACK LISTING:
1. Shady Grove
2. Scare Easy
3. Orphan Of The Storm
4. Six Days On The Road
5. Crystal River
6. Oh Maria
7. This Is A Good Street
8. The Wrong Thing To Do
9. Queen Of The Go-Go Girls
10. June Apple
11. Lover Of The Bayou
12. Topanga Cowgirl
13. Bootleg Flyer
14. House Of Stone
In the early 70’s, they were heroes in their hometown of Gainesville, Florida. Mudcrutch seemed poised for more. A series of festivals they hosted at their base, Mudcrutch Farm, eventually attracted fans from across North Florida and as far away as South Georgia. Too good to last, the festivals were closed down by authorities but remained a thing of local legend.
Looking to build on their regional successes, Mudcrutch moved to California and released one single on Shelter Records, "Depot Street" b/w "Wild Eyes." But the band never cracked the national music scene or made a full album. Each of the members went on to other musical and personal ventures. In the case of Benmont Tench, it was after some aimless months that he booked studio time to cut some solo recordings. He invited Petty and Campbell to play on those sessions, along with a rhythm section that consisted of Stan Lynch on drums and Ron Blair on bass. The sessions were never completed, but in the midst of that activity a new band was born: Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers. Within the year they would release their first of 15 records.
Now, more than 30 years later and quite unexpectedly, the Mudcrutch story continues.
Why? It’s a fair question. Mudcrutch broke up some 33 years ago, just another regional band that had moved to LA in hopes of making it in the music business. And when they did break up, the world didn’t notice or care. It was just another beautiful day in Los Angeles, and no one was going to give it back in the name of Mudcrutch. The band didn’t leave any full-length recordings behind them or release any singles that made a dent. So, yeah, why? What made Mudcrutch reform, and why now? Tom Petty has what is perhaps the most reasonable answer a musician can offer: “I guess I started thinking that we left some music back there, and it was time to go and get it.”
Two Mudcrutch members, Heartbreakers Mike Campbell and Benmont Tench, had already heard mention of the idea. Granted, they had some doubt as to whether Tom Petty would actually follow through on it—it was a weird one, this idea--but they’d been following his lead for a couple decades now with pretty solid results. Wait it out, they figured. Then Petty called Randall Marsh and Tom Leadon to run the idea past them. That’s when it started to get real. The headline finally looks something like this: Petty reforms Mudcrutch to make debut recording . . . late, but without a doubt not too late.
So, the various members find a time they can get together. Tom Leadon, now working as a guitar teacher, and Randall Marsh, earning his bread in few bar bands, come into town and stay at Tom Petty’s house in Malibu. The Heartbreaker road crew builds a recording studio in the band’s rehearsal space. It happens fast. And, no question, it wasn’t guaranteed to work. None of it. But it did. All of it.
The self-titled Mudcrutch debut is a revelation. For all the great unknown bands that never deserved to die, Mudcrutch has rolled back the stone and sauntered out into the daylight like they had this on their calendars. Recorded live, no overdubs, Mudcrutch is the sound of a five-piece band playing together. Petty wanted it that way: “I made a commitment at the beginning of the project that I wanted this to be Mudcrutch, done as it was back in the day. I really wanted it to be that band.” And that band had a few different members stepping up to handle the lead vocals. That band might have a song written by Tom Leadon or Benmont Tench or Mike Campbell. That band had Tom Petty on bass. That band mixed bluegrass tunes into their set. And, true to Petty’s vision, it all happens again on Mudcrutch.