Tom Petty

New col­lec­tion un­earths a wealth of lost clas­sics from an Amer­i­can Trea­sure.

Classic Rock - - Joe Bonamassa - max Bell

He was one of the good guys, Tom Petty, and while his death may not have had the global im­pact cre­ated by David Bowie’s pass­ing, there’s a big hole left where he used to be.

It’s likely that his fans will im­merse them­selves in this ca­reer-span­ning four-CD box set with mixed emo­tions. Lov­ingly com­piled by his daugh­ter Adria and his wife Dana, with Heart­break­ers Mike Campbell and Ben­mont Tench hands-on, this is no hasty cash-in.

The mu­sic is ex­em­plary: rock’n’roll, south­ern gothic, se­ri­ous stuff and down­right fun tunes. It starts with

Sur­ren­der, an un­re­leased track from the 1976 de­but, and sweeps across the fol­low­ing decades, of­fer­ing stacks of live ma­te­rial, al­ter­na­tive ver­sions, a pre-Heart­break­ers Mud­crutch sin­gle with smart brass from 1974, Lost In Your Eyes (with shades of Kings Of Leon crossed with Van Mor­ri­son, this is a real find), the Western Swing demo record­ing of The Apart­ment Song fea­tur­ing hon­orary mem­ber Stevie Nicks, and care­fully cho­sen al­bum tracks that avoid the bleed­ing ob­vi­ous.

It isn’t a great­est hits with a few ex­tras, quite the op­po­site. So, You’re Gonna Get It emerges with strings and a to­tally dif­fer­ent stac­cato outro that’s even mood­ier than the known cut, and The Byrds in Flori­dastyled Here Comes My Girl, from un­heard Damn The Tor­pe­does ses­sions, fea­tures

Petty’s mag­nif­i­cent red­neck drawl and the Heart­break­ers at their air­tight, dy­nam­i­cally del­i­cate best. Also from that era, What Are You Do­ing In My Life drags through the dirt, pow­ered by Campbell’s bot­tle­neck and a rhythm sec­tion that sim­ply de­mands the singer rise to the oc­ca­sion.

There are 63 ex­am­ples of Petty’s art in to­tal and they il­lus­trate that his range was far wider than some think. The Dy­lanesque Louisiana Rain is down-atheel and mor­bid, a re­minder that the Heart­break­ers rein­vig­o­rated old Bob when­ever they backed him up. God only knows how Keep A Lit­tle Soul didn’t make it to Long Af­ter Dark. An ob­vi­ous Beach Boys circa Hol­land nod, this prime Petty is the set’s lead-off sin­gle.

The live ma­te­rial is im­pec­ca­ble too, proof that the high­est stan­dards were em­ployed. Even The Losers, A Woman In Love (It’s Not

Me) and I Won’t Back Down all trans­plant the Deep South to the West Coast – this band had legs and lin­eage. The Long Af­ter Dark out-take Keep­ing Me Alive sounds like Petty and the ’break­ers tak­ing on Bruce Spring­steen in his own back­yard, and it’s a joy to be­hold. Maybe it’s a pity they didn’t in­clude the group’s ex­cel­lent ver­sion of the Grate­ful Dead’s Friend Of The Devil, or some­thing from Dy­lan’s Tem­ples In Flames tour of 1987, but let’s stay fo­cused.

King Of The Hill is an early take of the high lone­some song that ap­peared on Roger McGuinn’s Back From Rio, with the pair mesh­ing har­monies like the

Everly Broth­ers. That kind of Amer­i­can trea­sure is un­earthed with pleas­ing reg­u­lar­ity here, from the claus­tro­pho­bic crowd riot at The Fo­rum in In­gle­wood, Cal­i­for­nia, in 1981 (you had to be there) to the panoramic tale of Ed­die Rebel that un­der­pins the skyscrap­ing Into The Great Wide Open. Cow­boys, losers and good-time gals drift through

Two Gunslingers and Lone­some Dave, but both transcend cliché thanks to a tight lyri­cal touch that em­pha­sises Petty’s po­si­tion as a great song­writer and a nar­ra­tor with a keen eye for de­tail and an ear for voices other than his own.

Petty re­tained his roots, de­spite the wealth and fame that even­tu­ally made him a pris­oner in his own En­cino home, the one burnt down by an ar­son­ist in

1987, de­stroy­ing all his pos­ses­sions bar his base­ment stu­dio and many of these tapes. Bus To Tampa Bay, Down South, South­ern Ac­cents and an­other Nicks duet on In­sider have that hot, swampy ooze that sug­gests these Florid­i­ans were ac­tu­ally out­siders in Cal­i­for­nia.

Ret­ro­spec­tives can run out of steam on the home leg since new ma­te­rial rarely lives up to youth­ful nostal­gia, but there isn’t a slow fiz­zle here. Two Men Talk­ing, Fault Lines and Sins Of My Youth from Hyp­notic

Eye are con­sid­ered, ma­ture pieces – no time now to be chas­ing that Amer­i­can Girl. In­stead, the fi­nal straight sparkles on the Gos­din Broth­ers’-flavoured Save Your Wa­ter, from Mud­crutch 2; the sparse Like A Di­a­mond from The Last DJ; and it bows out with the bleak Hun­gry No More, recorded at the House Of Blues in Bos­ton, June 2016, com­plet­ing an im­mac­u­late chronol­ogy.

“I hope we were mu­si­cal for ya,” says Petty. He was far more than that.

‘Ex­em­plary mu­sic: rock’n’roll, south­ern

gothic, fun tunes.’

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