From Sound + Vision Magazine -
That was the record where the dam burst. And thats Tom Petty, succinctly assessing the impact of his breakthrough monster of a third album with the Heartbreakers 1979 Damn the Torpedoes.
The assessment springs from the records entry in Eagle Visions series of Classic Albums - and my advice is to view all 98 minutes of that documentary first when enjoying these two Torpedoes titles on Blu-ray.
In keeping with the Classic Albums procedure, Petty, the Heartbreakers, co-producer Jimmy Iovine, and engineer Shelly Yakus all get behind the board to deconstruct the alchemy of this seamless album. For example, one of the keys to Here Comes My Girl is unlocked when Petty, noting the blend of Mike Campbells guitar arpeggios and Benmont Tenchs piano melody on the chorus, says this: You had to come from the South to play that lick. (It just feels so good and so free and so right.)
Then its time to fire up the best thing on the Blu-ray Audio version of the Torpedoes Deluxe Edition: the DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 mix, which was perhaps borne from a seed planted in a 2009 interview I conducted with Petty, when I suggested he revisit older studio material in surround. The mix follows the 5.1 approach that producer Ryan Ulyate set for Mojo, letting the bands intuitive live-off-the-floor interplay be the star. (For our special coverage of that album and its multichannel mix, see the exclusive Mojo Working in our June/July/August 2010 issue, also available on our Web site.)
Dont Do Me Like That illustrates Ulyates approach beautifully, starting with Tenchs signature organ intro electrifying the track front and center. The all-channels reverb on Pettys lead vocal lends the proper sense of space and warmth. Meanwhile, Tenchs piano support on the verses is properly centered, as Campbells tasteful lead guitar is spread across the front sound field.
Even the Losers charges forth with Stan Lynchs all-encompassing drum-and-cymbal intro. That quickly transitions to Ron Blairs bass line moping in the center channel before the famous spoken lead-in, Its just the normal noises in here. And if you crave some bottom-end kick, You Tell Me has guest bassist Donald Duck Dunn loping down low in all corners, with Campbells sinewy slide caressing the surround channels.
Bonus tracks include three contemporaneous live cuts, two videos, and four non-album studio numbers (two unreleased, two from B-sides). The latter four point to Pettys instincts for self-editing, which helped to create this tight, perfect the 36:30 album.
What should Petty, Ulyate, and company do next in 5.1? Hmmm, lets see: 2011 is the 30th anniversary of Hard Promises, and I have a serious hankering to hear Tom and Stevie Nicks harmonize in surround on Insider. So whaddaya say, guys? As we all know, the waiting is the hardest part.
- MIKE METTLER
Click here to check out the TomPetty.com minisite devoted to Damn The Torpedoes.