Friday, November 26, 2010

Michael Fremer Album Review

Damn the Torpedoes

Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers

ORG Music/Backstreet 7007 2 180g LPs
Produced by: Tom Petty and Jimmy Iovine
Engineered by: Shelly Yakus
Mixed by: Shelly Yakus
Mastered by: Chris Bellman at Bernie Grundman Mastering



Sneak Peak: ORG Music's Damn the Torpedoes

by Michael Fremer
October 30, 2010

ORG Music is a new division of ORG, the label that's been reissuing mostly classic jazz titles over the past few years along with the heart of Nirvana's catalog. ORG Music will specialize in classic rock reissues, with an enhanced, extra track edition of this Tom Petty breakthrough album coming first.

The $50 deluxe double red 180 gram version includes a heavy gatefold jacket, 12 page booklet and a digital download card offering your choice of MP3 or CD resolution FLAC download. It's only available at the Because Sound Matters website. The black vinyl edition is sold everywhere else.

The first of the two records, pressed at Pallas in Germany, contains the original 1979 release. The second features nine bonus tracks including seven unreleased tunes, three of which are live, plus demo tracks including terrific live in the studio "Refugee" and "Nowhere" demos. The live tracks come from a March 6, 1980 concert at London's famed Hammersmith Odeon.

I was sent Pallas test pressings on black vinyl that sounded absolutely spectacular. In fact, when "Refugee" started I didn't recognize it at first! I thought they'd sent me the wrong record—not that the original mastered by Greg Calbi at Sterling Sound is bad.

Originally issued in 1979 on Petty's Backstreet Records, a division of MCA created following a hard fought battle with the label after his original label, Shelter had been sold to MCA, Damn the Torpedoes was Petty's "breakthrough" album, with "Refugee" "Here Comes My Girl," "Even the Losers" and "Don't Do Me Like That" achieving "classic" status among rock enthusiasts.

The late '70s was a great time for L.A. rock productions and this one recorded by Shelly Yakus at Sound City in Van Nuys and Cherokee in Hollywood as the L.A. recording scene was peaking is a gem with a spectacularly punchy drum track and ringing electric guitars arrayed on a tightly focused, well defined artificial soundstage. The snare and cymbal sound is addictive and the kick drum isn't half bad either!

The louder you crank this the better it gets! There's not a digital recording made that can come close to the magnificently open, airy and extended top end of this recording.

Damn the Torpedoes captures the essence of American rock and TP and the Heartbreakers at a young peak. The album has aged extremely well and has never sounded as good as this reissue.

If you like the album, you'll love this version. The bonus tracks, particularly the live stuff including a great cover of U.K. fave Eddie Cochrane's "Somethin' Else" and the studio demo of "Refugee" add luster to an already outstanding album.

The red vinyl version is limited to 500 copies. I'm sure they'll press as many copies on black vinyl as Petty fans wish to buy.

Thanks to Michael over at  for the exclusive rights to reprint this material. Stop by for more reviews and features.

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