Mudcrutch : Mudcrutch

mudcrutch.jpgFlorida’s biggest musical secret was Mudcrutch, the band that got away.

Before he achieved fame and fortune with The Heartbreakers, Tom Petty was the bass player/singer in this ’60s band that made a push toward the Hollywood music business, yet could not cement the connection. One listen to their take on the traditional folk standard "Shady Grove" and "Orphan of the Storm," and it’s hard to understand how Mudcrutch failed to light a spark during the early days of alt-country.

Red Simpson’s "Six Days on the Road" veers tightly towards Flying Burrito Brothers territory with a natural charm and Petty’s raspy delivery intact. Guitarists Mike Campbell and Tom Leadon angle their lead playing fluidly through long segues of improvised bliss on the swirling and captivating "Crystal River."

Petty’s association with Roger McGuinn and The Byrds reaps generous benefits on Mudcrutch’s faithful cover of "Lover of the Bayou." Keyboardist Benmont Tench, Petty and drummer Randall Marsh take the band’s rhythmic capabilities to an elevated level on both "Topanga Cowgirl" and the percolating, jam-happy monster, "Bootleg Flyer."

Petty, Campbell and Ryan Wyate’s creative production standards pays close attention to the details, reframing and reinventing the art of recording in the spirit of The Beatles. Mudcrutch provides a breezy, top down ride through America’s country rock roots to give birth to an iPod soundtrack for the ages.

Mudcrutch is out now on Reprise/WEA.