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"That was the record where life was never going to be the same again," Tom Petty recently said of Damn The Torpedoes, his 1979 breakthrough.
Underscoring the weight of Petty's summation is the fact that it's an album he almost didn't get to make at all: a messy legal dispute with his label, MCA, had forced Petty into bankruptcy. And despite the fact that the he and the Heartbreakers had broken big in the UK and had finally scored a couple of Stateside singles, I Need To Know and Listen To Her Heart, from their second record, 1978's You're Gonna Get It, as the decade drew to a close, the future for the band didn't look bright.
In Springsteen-like fashion, however, Petty prevailed in court and hit the studio intent on making good on years of hard promises. Working with a young production maverick named Jimmy Iovine, he and the Heartbreakers hunkered down on a collection of radio-ready songs that tied all of their influences (most notably The Byrds and Bob Dylan) together seamlessly. Refugee, Don‘t Do Me Like That, Here Comes My Girl, Even The Losers - purpose and passion never sounded so tuneful and triumphant. With anthems such as these, Damn The Torpedoes was all over the airwaves, eventually going double platinum and darn near hitting the No. 1 spot (a little offering by Pink Floyd, something about a wall, held it off).
And now, 31 years after its release, Damn The Torpedoes is getting the deluxe treatment as a two-CD set which includes a spiffed-up, remastered edition of the classic album, along with a bonus disc of never-before-heard tracks from the ‘79 sessions, B-sides, alternate takes and live versions of some of the hits.
With the holidays nearing and deluxe reissues coming at us from all corners, is the steroid-enhanced version of Damn The Torpedoes a stocking stuffer for the TP fan in your life? Let’s check it out track-by-track and see…