Home / Bootleg Country: Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers – 10/28/06

Bootleg Country: Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers – 10/28/06

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In his 30 year career Tom Petty has sold more than 50 million albums, received three Grammy awards, a Golden Note award, the Gershwin Award For Lifetime Musical Achievement, and been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. So why doesn’t he seem to get more respect?

To me, it stems from his ability to continually knock out solid albums in a steady fashion for all those years. Every couple of years, Petty puts out an album full of solidly good, if not great material. There are usually a couple of standout hits in each, but no album really rises above the rest. Think about it. Is there one Petty album that you would consider to be an absolute classic? What is his Revolver? Or Dark Side of the Moon? Or Blonde on Blonde? No, in my ever so humble opinion, none of his albums quite make it to that genius level.

Petty’s career has remained relatively stable over the last three decades as well. He continues to put out solid albums, record hit songs and take his band on the road. There haven’t been any giant breakdowns or burn outs. He hasn’t even faded away. No, there has always been a Tom Petty making good songs and churning out classic rock. Where almost all of your great rock bands have all died by one mean or another, Petty has remained one of the few rockers to keep truckin’.

I think by continually putting out good, not great albums so steadily it is easy for the casual fan to overlook Petty’s achievement. Without one brilliant album to cling to, his dozen really good ones get overlooked. By never leaving our presence, it’s easy to sort of forget about how remarkable his career really is.

Double Down Stage
Las Vegas, NV
Download this show via Bittorrent

One of the great things about Tom Petty’s long career is that he can play a different set list almost every night and still sprinkle it heavily with hit songs. For this performance he performs half a dozen of his hit singles, while mixing in songs from his newest album, Highway Companion, slightly obscure older songs, and a few BB King covers.

The Heartbreakers never veer far from the original versions of the songs, but perform with the vibrant energy only found at live concerts. Occasionally there is an extended guitar solo, but it never wanders far from the song's melody and always ends way too quickly for these ears. Mike Campbell proves over and over that while he may never make it to any top lists of greatest guitarist lists, he is more than capable of producing sweet licks and charbroiled sounds.

This is a pretty decent audience recording, and as such there is a good blend of the band playing and the audience enjoying the show. The band mixes are a little muddled, so this is nothing to put on your A-list shelf, but the audience is so exuberant and excited in their response and sing-along that I find myself getting swept away in it all. When the light is just right, I close my eyes and almost feel like I’m right there.

Tom Petty may never find the diehard fanship of The Beatles, Dylan or The Dead, but by continually writing good songs and putting on shows like this, he’s proven to be one of the most steady and long-lasting performers in rock and roll. Not a bad epitaph to have in the end.

Enjoy a few sample .mp3s:  "Mary Jane's Last Dance," "Free Fallin'," "It's Good to be King," and "American Girl."

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About Mat Brewster

  • Vern Halen

    Awww, Matt – you probably hit the nail on the head, but I think that’s what elevates him up there with the big guns – TP never made Exile on Main Street or Blonde On Blonde, but he never made Satanic Majesties’ Request or Self Portrait – that counts for a lot, don’t you think?

  • “Is there one Petty album that you would consider to be an absolute classic?”

    Greatest Hits. I know that’s not fair, but I’m sticking with it.

    “When the light is just right, I close my eyes and” remember I was there. heh heh. If you listen real close, you can hear me shouting. I was about seven bodies back from Mike Campbell.

    Already planning on returning next year. And yourself?

    btw, would it have killed you to link to my Vegoose Pics page? Geeez!

  • Wildflowers and Damn the Torpedoes.

  • Your votes don’t count, fan boy. Go listen to Guster and leave us intellectuals to argue.

    Bicho, didn’t even think about your picks, but was thinking about you being there. Did you photog Petty, for I don’t remember any of him in your page. Mainly it was just high hippies and veggie burritos, right?

    Vern I tend to agree. The fact that he’s been so consistently good proves how really great he is.

    Or something.

  • Vern Halen

    Well, sometimes when artists of A-list caliber puts out a stinker, people say, “Well it just goes to show they’re taking risks.” Sure – we’ll go with that. So what are TP’s stinkers? Pick you least fave three – and I’ll bet none are really that bad. So I guess one way to see it is that even his risks are successful.

    I’m gonna go take a look and see which whould my three – get back atcha eventually maybe, if Christmas doesn’t catch up with me first.

  • That’s a good point, I’d say. Off the top of my head I can’t think of any really bad Petty songs, or even any songs I tend to skip through on an album. A pretty rare thing at that.

  • I nominate Damn the Torpedoes too. I remember in the late 80s when a friend and I bought Petty tickets. It was going to be his first concert in Montreal. We were looking towards it for weeks until it was cancelled for some reason. It probably had something to do with low ticket sales and ties into your point that he receives little credit. Personally, I thoroughly enjoy his music.

  • STM

    Yes: Damn the torpedoes. I remember in the early 80s, might even have been 1980 actually, as a young fella driving across the southern states of the US in a delivery car with a mate (Hunter S.Thompson had nothing compared to us, trust me), and listening to Refugee. lt was played regularly on just ahout every radio station as we passed through the south-western and southern states and headed up to Virginia.

    As an Aussie, while FM radio had been around for many years, I never listened to it as it didn’t go full-bore commercial until 1980 – and my car, like many others, had a radio that was only tuned to pick up the rock-playing commercial AM stations.

    I had already heard the song and others from the album on the car radio back home but remember being amazed by the genuine stereo quality and clarity of the music on FM – and, whilst me and my mate Ronnie were battling daily with the concept of left-hand drive AND driving on the wrong side of the road (the right) and getting pulled over by the police and border patrol in New Mexico, Arizona and Texas (with surfboards strapped on the roof! “Sorry, officer, we didn’t realise what the speed limit was. It’s different in Australia. 90mph on the open road, sir.” Got away with it, too), Tom Petty got amped up every time he came on and provided a very welcome distraction. I believe it sounded even better when we’d been smoking a certain type of green vegetable matter.

    Aah, the memories. It remains my favourite Tom Petty album, although others here are right: he doesn’t get the recognition he deserves.

  • I must admit it has been a very long time since I listened to Torpedoes as my copy was lost or stolen or misplaced many years ago. I guess it is time to get another one.

  • Vern Halen

    Listen to TP&TH’s You’re Gonna Get It! – IMHO, the most underrated album of TP’s career, and underrated in general. About as long as a Ramones album of the same era, and just as good.