PRIME ROCKS, CLASSIC ALBUM (2018): Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers' Damn the Torpedoes

 |   |  1 min read

PRIME ROCKS, CLASSIC ALBUM (2018): Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers' Damn the Torpedoes

Prime commemorates the anniversary of Tom Petty’s death with this special encore. Damn The Torpedoes, the third album by Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers.

It's probably no longer true because the musical landscape has changed so much, but from the Seventies onward there was a saying in rock culture: The Difficult Third Album.

It was called that because, as the cliché went, you had about five years to write your first album, your second could have decent leftovers from the first and a few new songs heated in the fire of enthusiasm . . . but the third album?

That was the one you had to write on the road.

It was also the one where the weight of fan and record company expectation weighed heavy: Can they still do it?

The '79 third album Damn the Torpedoes by Tom Petty and the Heartbreaker was more than difficult on a musical level, it threw Petty into conflict with his recording company and arrived as a classic rock sound (Byrds, Beatles, polished garageband rock'n'roll) at the time of snappy New Wave and disco.

In some ways it was out of step with its period, they were longhair rockers at the time of buttoned-down post-punk . . . but they were a killer live band and they had the songs.

Produced by Jimmy Iovine, Torpedoes was tight (nine songs in 37 minutes) and the songs were like a series of singles.

And indeed they were, the album sprung four Petty classics in the following nine months: Refugee, Here Comes My Girl, Even the Losers and Don't Do Me Like That.

And the other songs weren't shabby either: Shadow of a Doubt, Century City, You Tell Me, Louisiana Rain . . .

There is a sense of coiled menace in many of them (check Refugee) and also pure pop-rock (Here Comes My Girl, Century City).

Everyone involved knew this was make-or-break time, but also that they were making a great album.

And they did.

It sold massively, went to number two in the US and number one in New Zealand.

It made the band . . . and they and the album are the subject of this hour-long doco which has interviews with Petty, the band members, Iovine and others.

Sometimes it might get technical for those not into a kick-drum sound and in how the songs are deconstructed, but it is fascinating nonetheless because the songs are so distinctive and defining.

Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers were established as a classic American rock band . . . and then it was on to the Difficult Fourth Album.

Wednesday 3rd October, 8.30pm on Prime

 


Share It

Your Comments

post a comment

More from this section   Film articles index

THE MUSIC OF STRANGERS; YO-YO MA AND THE SILK ROAD ENSEMBLE, a film by MORGAN NEVILLE (Madman DVD/Blu-Ray)

THE MUSIC OF STRANGERS; YO-YO MA AND THE SILK ROAD ENSEMBLE, a film by MORGAN NEVILLE (Madman DVD/Blu-Ray)

If Chet Baker and Dean Martin shared one trait it was that of being cursed with gifts which came so easily to them they they treated them with casual indifference. Baker could sing and... > Read more

PAUL McCARTNEY; GOOD EVENING NEW YORK CITY (Universal CD/DVD)

PAUL McCARTNEY; GOOD EVENING NEW YORK CITY (Universal CD/DVD)

After a decade of exceptional diversity on disc -- it started with the left-field Liverpool Sound Collage, there was the remix album Twin Freaks, another album as The Fireman as well as a classical... > Read more

Elsewhere at Elsewhere

Copenhagen, Denmark: Walking off the art

Copenhagen, Denmark: Walking off the art

Make no mistake, this art stuff can really take it out of you. It can get your step-rate up, the wind in your face and your aorta working overtime. Especially if you're in Copenhagen and... > Read more

Tokaanu, New Zealand 2007: Small towns on a slow up-spin

Tokaanu, New Zealand 2007: Small towns on a slow up-spin

About 10 or so years ago I spent a few days in Turangi on the southern shore of Lake Taupo in New Zealand's North Island. I was on an assignment for the Herald. I wish I could say the story... > Read more