A celebrated military contractor returns to the site of his greatest career triumphs and re-connects with a long-ago love while unexpectedly falling for the hard-charging Air Force watchdog assigned to him.
PLAYBACK is a no-nonsense compilation of Tom Petty's promo films and video clips, spanning the years 1979 to 1994, beginning with 'Here Comes My Girl' and ending with 'Mary Jane's Last Dance'. The earliest clips are the most interesting, with Petty and his band coming out of their mid-seventies plastic punk phase and becoming embraced by the nascent new wave movement, and the promos for 'The Waiting' and 'Refugee' nicely subvert the "stand still and mime" ethos that rock videos were already getting bogged down with. Cameron Crowe has an early stab at directing with the video for 'Change Of Heart', which is presented in a mix that sounds more direct and exciting than the album mix, and the ever-alluring Stevie Nicks makes a guest appearance in the haunting 'Insider'. On the negative side, the Mad Max-style visuals in 'You Got Lucky' seem self-indulgent and even dated (as well as having precisely nothing to do with the song), the tricksy hallucinatory style adopted for 'Don't Come Around Here No More' gets tiresome very quickly, 'Jammin Me' could give you a headache or eyestrain or worse, 'I Won't Back Down' features some cringe-inducing "zaniness" from Ringo Starr and 'Free Fallin' has shots of skateboarders crow barred in, as if the director was making some misguided attempts at making the then-middle-aged Petty seem more hip and in touch with the kids. That said, the mini-films accompanying 'Into The Great Wide Open' and 'Mary Jane's Last Dance' are both excellent, and the solo 'Face In The Crowd' is appropriately haunting. It's a shame room couldn't be found for some earlier, rougher tracks like 'American Girl' or 'Listen To Her Heart', but there we are. All in all this is a must-have for Petty fans, but you may want to close your eyes at times and just enjoy the music.
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