The Petty Archives

By Brian D. Dickman
The Griffin - November 9, 1979

Tom Petty's new album is called "Damn the Torpedoes," probably because of all the legal hassles which threatened to shoot down his chances of ever getting it released.

Well, it's finally here, and Mr. Petty and his band, the Heartbreakers, appear determined to come back with a vengeance. "Refugee" starts the album with a snarl and spit. "Somewhere, somehow, somebody must have kicked you around some," sings T.P., and the band backs him with the kind of power you wouldn't want to face in a gang fight.

Next is the strained and struggling opening lines of "Here Comes My Girl," which ponder the question, "why bother with life," until he remembers where his co-ed wrestling match partner comes from.

"Even the Loses" and "Shadow of a Doubt" glide along with the help of organist Benmont Tench's talents and Petty's best Jack Daniels-slurpin' drawl. And "Century City" roars along in fine R.E.O. Speedwagon style, with the aid of some downright mean guitar pickin'.

I might warn you now that if you buy this album, don't play side two first. You might think the record company goofed and gave you a J. Geils album instead. "Don't Do Me Like That" sounds as if it was pulled from the Geils College of Musical Knowledge, with its backing piano boogie and watery organ slides. One can't complain, though, because along with "What Are You Doin' In My Life," it's one of the best rocka-rolla songs on the album.

"Louisiana Rain" ends the album Cajun classic fashion, as Petty does his best Bob Dylan act, trudging through that teary-eyed bayou rain to his good-ol' Baton Rouge homeland. Makes yuh kinduh wantuh go skin a crawfish or sumpthin'.

"Damn the Torpedoes" is a fun album, because like those classic K-Tel TV Records, you get something totally different with every song. Except in this case, there's only one band, and fortunately Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers are good enough to pull it off.