Monday, November 29, 2010

Damn The Torpedoes (Deluxe Edition) - Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers

It's easy to dismiss this new set as another money grab, especially for those who already own the first remastered version (released in the early 00's). Well despite owning the original master, I still got this deluxe edition anyway. I'll talk bout the second disc first. Two previously unreleased tracks from those '79 sessions: Nowhere and Surrender. Two good 'ol rock & roll songs, in the true classic Heartbreakers fashion. The other two tracks, Casa Dega and It's Rainin' Again appeared on the retrospective box set, Playback. Still it's my first time hearing these songs, and they sound great to my ears, especially Casa Dega. The latter is a muddy blues-influenced ditty.

Then, we get three live songs taken from one of their UK shows in '80. A country where the band hit it big first, and then their popularity in the States picked up after that. Also sadly, a country that has never had a major Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers tour in a friggin' long time. The final track of this disc is another take on Refugee, a more stripped-down version, less of Benmont Tench's keys, and without the background vox and Mike Campbell's recognizable guitar riff.

There are new liner notes written by Rolling Stone's David Fricke, in which there's a nice mention of Bruce. Back then, he had just finished Darkness On The Edge Of Town and had given Tom some advice about sticking to your guns. After all, both of them were in similar situations (legal issues and all) before recording their masterpieces. Actually a good companion piece to this album is the documentary film (available on DVD), detailing every aspect of the recording process. Everything needed to know about the album is in there.

This new remaster is a definite improvement from the one years ago. It's obviously louder in volume this time. And all the little nooks and crannies can be heard clearly; for example, I can now hear the little acoustic guitar picking during the intro to Louisiana Rain. But the real treat is finally hearing how pissed off Tom is in songs like Refugee, You Tell Me and What Are You Doin' In My Life?. Somehow I didn't get that feeling previously.

Damn The Torpedoes
isn't an influential piece of work, but it did rejuvenate those core ideals of rock & roll and what it originally meant to people. It's possibly the best sounding rock record of the 70's; and of course the drums here are the best sounding set of drums ever put to tape. Period. It's pretty fair to say its sound blows away the majority of today's rock albums. It just gets better with age. The music is as straightforward as it can get, stripped of any technical bullshit. If you want rock & roll at it's purest and finest, this is it. Just two guitars like it always should be, simple set of keyboards and drums and lots of bad-ass attitude.