This was the first Tom Petty album I ever bought. At the time it was pretty difficult to ignore, the singles were all over Virgin Radio (the radio 2 renaissance hadn't yet arrived) and the newly minted Mojo magazine gave it a glowing review.
I was however aware of Petty long before this, my image of him informed by the rather odd video (sitting on a tree stump in a wizard hat, wasn't it?) for Don't Come Around Here No More.
The images painted, and stories told by these songs are wonderful, expansive, and so very American. My favourite track is Too Good To Be True. It's what the band doesn't play that I marvel at. A beautiful song, with glorious slide guitar.
I guess the thing that almost knocks a star off for me is Jeff Lynne's intrusive, ubiquitous production. At the time he was coming to the end of 10 years of golden touch producing, but his drum sound just wrecks everything he works on. It ruined The (3) Beatles' reunion, and turned George Harrison into an ELO extra. On Into The Great Wide Open the drum sound is the only thing that drags the weaker songs down. Listen to Wildflowers, or Damn The Torpedos, it's a different drummer only it's not. It's a shame.
This album has a place in my heart for introducing me to the joy of Tom Petty and Heartbreakers, and is like an old friend to go back to, a well read book or comfortable shoes. Simply perfect.