Tuesday, March 12, 2019

Tom Petty 22: The Best Of Everything

An American Treasure nicely presented another side of Tom Petty’s well-traveled catalog, so the announcement of a comprehensive double-disc collection with two “new” songs so soon after seemed a tad crass. While the MCA portion of his history had already been anthologized on a single CD, as well as a double and even in a box set, this would be the first time anything from Wildflowers on had been compiled in any way. Thankfully, the powers that be gave the new box time to be appreciated, and delayed The Best Of Everything till the following spring.
Rather than running strictly chronologically, the sequence jumps from year to year to prove it’s all part of the same soup. It repeats everything from the 1993 hits collection, with the exception of “Something In The Air”, adding only “Stop Draggin’ My Heart Around” with Stevie Nicks (which replaced it on later versions of the set) and “Southern Accents”. (Were it up to us, we’d’ve tried to squeeze in “A Woman In Love” and “Change Of Heart”.)
As for the Warner years, every studio album is covered, including his solo outings and both Mudcrutch albums. Wildflowers offers three tracks, though there could easily be more, and She’s The One is well represented by the hit version of “Walls” and the quieter “Angel Dream”. “Room At The Top” is the best choice from Echo, as is “Dreamville” from The Last DJ; that title track is a given. “I Should Have Known It” is the obvious go-to from Mojo, but two from Highway Companion is pushing it. “American Dream Plan B” is here because something had to come from Hypnotic Eye, especially since three songs—all good—come from the second Mudcrutch album, and just one from the first.
The two new tracks aren’t exactly buried treasure. The “title track”, which had already appeared in an alternate mix on An American Treasure, ends the first disc in a version that includes a second verse chopped out before making it to Southern Accents. The second disc closes with “For Real”, something of a statement of purpose that ties in with the music business themes of The Last DJ, which is roughly when it was written. Oddly enough, it was recorded during sessions to add a song to his previous double-CD anthology…
Overall, The Best Of Everything delivers what it promises. While the so-called second half of his career may not have been as prolific or gifted as the hungry years, hearing some of those songs in this context does them a big favor, just as hearing the earlier stuff in something other than the usual order breathes life into them as well. And for that it’s recommended, especially for those who’ve held out on getting a Petty collection until now.

Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers The Best Of Everything (2019)—4

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