Monday, August 10, 2009

Tom Petty 2: Damn The Torpedoes

Having been shuffled against his will around a couple of record companies, Tom Petty was under pressure to produce something of substance. With Damn The Torpedoes, he succeeded.
He found something of a kindred spirit in producer Jimmy Iovine, who’d cut his teeth engineering for John Lennon and would soon become a major mover and shaker in the business. Together they created a bond that would last through several albums, beginning with this fantastic collection of hit singles, should’ve-been-hits and downright great songs.
Starting off with “Refugee”, the band sounds tougher than ever, and Petty’s voice has finally found a palatable range. “Here Comes My Girl” sports a droning undercurrent supporting the Rickenbackers that would be heard as a trademark sound, while the vocals go from spoken to shouted to harmonic. “Even The Losers” is something of a statement of purpose, while “Shadow Of A Doubt (A Complex Kid)” manages to encompass both the Drifters and Bob Dylan. That’s four strong songs right there, to the point where the somewhat slight “Century City” can be forgiven.
“Don’t Do Me Like That” crashes open side two, and while it’s the best song on the side, it carries “You Tell Me” and “What Are You Doing To My Life?” through the snippets of ambient noise and studio sounds to “Louisiana Rain”, a pleasant stab at a Big Number.
Damn The Torpedoes was a breath of fresh air at the end of the ‘70s, going up against the likes of Led Zeppelin and Pink Floyd while Donna Summer and Gloria Gaynor held reign on the charts. With a couple of hit singles and strong radio support, his label wouldn’t try dumping him now.
Thirty years on, the people who decided such things put together an expanded version of the album for a Deluxe Edition. Rather than putting everything on a single disc, the bonus material was put on its own to jack up the list price. Two B-sides are repeated from the Playback box, along with a live B-side and two more songs from the same show. Much more interesting are the legendary outtake “Surrender” and an early take of “Refugee” that demonstrates how much it’s missing without Jim Keltner’s shaker.

Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers Damn The Torpedoes (1979)—4
2010 Deluxe Edition: same as 1979, plus 9 extra tracks

1 comment:

  1. The Classic Albums DVD is an essential companion. Jimmy Iovine and engineeer Shelly Yakus are full of anecdotes. But it also allows the bandmates a chance to shine. I especially liked Benmont Tench's contributions, both in the main portion and in the Extras.