Thursday, 5 May 2016

"Tom Petty And The Heartbreakers" by TOM PETTY AND THE HEARTBREAKERS (2002 Gone Gator/Warner Brothers CD – Joe Gastwirt Remaster) - A Review by Mark Barry...

"...Raised On Promises..." 

A great debut album is the stuff of musical legend - and it doesn't get a lot better than Tom Petty's self-titled opening salvo. "Tom Petty And The Heartbreakers" is an astonishing 40 years old in November 2016 and still sounding as fresh as a Florida daisy.

Yet despite huge radio-friendly hits like "Breakdown", "American Girl" and "Anything That's Rock 'n' Roll" - the LP took its sweet time. It didn't gain US album chart entry until September of 1977 (almost a year after release) whereupon it crawled up to the lofty heights of No. 55 despite being viewed nowadays as a balls-to-the-wall 70ts Rock Classic. 

Which brings us to this rather excellent - if not a little threadbare - 2002 CD reissue/remaster - finally ridding us of a naff 80ts MCA CD with the all the aural and aesthetic appeal of a gone-off banana.  Here are the details to take us (baby baby) through the night...

USA, UK and Europe released May 2002 - "Tom Petty And The Heartbreakers" by TOM PETTY AND THE HEARTBREAKERS on Gone Gator/Warner Brothers 8122-78177-2 (Barcode 081227817725) is a straightforward CD transfer of the original LP and plays out as follows (30:54 minutes):

1. Rockin' Around With You
2. Breakdown
3. Hometown Blues
4. The Wild One, Forever
5. Anything That's Rock 'n' Roll
6. Strangered In The Night [Side 2]
7. Fooled Again (I Don't Like It)
8. Mystery Man
9. Luna
10. American Girl
Tracks 1 to 10 are his debut album "Tom Petty And The Heartbreakers" - released November 1976 in the USA on Shelter SRL-52006 and May 1977 in the UK on Island/Shelter ISA 5014. DENNY CORDELL produced.

TOM PETTY - Vocals, Guitars and Keyboards
BENMONT TENCH - Piano and Organ
RON BLAIR - Bass and Cello
STAN LYNCH - Drums (Keyboards on "Luna")

GREGG GELLER has produced the reissue and the gatefold slip of paper that passed as the MCA inlay is now upgraded to a 16-page booklet with new liner notes from BILL FLANAGAN. Inside are details of how 1974's Mudcrutch from Gainesville, Florida (Petty's original band) became 1976's Tom Petty And The Heartbreakers with a new sound, new songs and a razor's edge. There are lyrics for the first time (didn't come with the original LP), period photos and detailed recording/CD reissue details. But the big news for all fans is new JOE GASTWIRT Remasters carried out at OceanView Mastering in California. This CD sounds awesome - full and punchy - alive without being too over-trebled - I love it. The guitars - the drums - the overall aural wallop is something to behold (as it is with the 2nd album "You're Gonna Get It" - also released in a 2002 Gastwirt Remaster).

It opens with the jaunty almost Rockabilly "Rockin' Around With You" and you can hear those subtle guitar bits, the floating synth note and those driving drums. Hissy for sure but uber-slick - "Breakdown" is Rock magic - an irresistible hook allied with snarling vocals and that brilliant guitar giving it just enough over the keyboards. Originally issued Stateside in November 1976 as a debut 45 on Shelter SR-62006 - it didn't take until a reissue in October 1977 on Shelter SR-62009 saw it make No. 40 on the Pop charts. Even now it's such a winner and a US Radio perennial. Back to that Petty shuffle with "Hometown Blues" - but my crave has always been the epic Americana feel to "The Wild One, Forever" (a B-side to "Breakdown" in November 1976). "...I knew right away I'd never get over how good it felt when you finally kissed me..." - the lyrics tell us as the beautifully simple guitar plays it out - wonderful stuff – so simple and direct. He ends Side 1 on the Rock Boogie anthem "Anything That's Rock 'n' Roll" - a tune he's used to open concerts. It's snotty and full of attitude - don't need her - don't need school - don't need rules - what's not to love...

Side 2 opens one of the most underrated Petty song - the genius groove of "Strangered In The Night". Forty years I'm playing this sucker and still digging its huge dirty guitars - those paranoid lyrics - and that brilliant Campbell soloing. Second stroke of fab comes with everyone's fave from the early years - "Fooled Again (I Don't Like It)" - a massive grinding riff that just seems to float as he squeals "...strange voice on the telephone...telling me I better leave you alone..." That synth note now has more power too. We trot to the finish with a trio of goodies - the almost Eagles "Mystery Man" (hissy at the beginning, but beautifully clear after that) - the slightly sinister yet strangely touching "Luna" - and of course the biggie - "American Girl" - an anthem he plays to this day.

What a brilliant beginning and I think the follow-up "You're Gonna Get It" from May 1978 is equally droolsome - one of 'the' great lost-albums of the 70ts. Presently selling for fewer than four squid - this brill remaster of "Tom Petty And The Heartbreakers" needs to be in your home. Make it last all night indeed...

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Spines of Exceptional CD Remasters

Spines of Exceptional CD Remasters

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