Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers
Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers' eponymous 1976 album was one of the most assured and accomplished debuts of the decade. Its jangly-guitar blast of roots-charged rock not only helped slow the disco chart juggernaut and blow the pretense out of arena rock, it helped pave the way for the punk and new-wave revolution that quickly followed. The breakout single "American Girl" proudly displays not only Petty's nasally Dylan-does-the Byrds affectations, but his pop-savvy roots as well: That's former band mate Dwight Twilley (Petty had briefly played bass in Twilley's band) and fellow Tulsa pop savant Phil Seymour doing the harmonies. Petty's influences here also span Buddy Holly (the frantic "Rockin' Around," "Anything That's Rock & Roll") and the bluesy, Stones-scented hit "Breakdown," all delivered with such aggressive passion as to make their antecedents almost irrelevant.