The Petty Archives

Thinking Inside the Box (Musically, That Is)
Reviiew by Jon Pareles
The New York Times - November 27, 2009

TOM PETTY & THE HEARTBREAKERS: THE LIVE ANTHOLOGY This expansive, nonchronological anthology proves how consistent Tom Petty's band has sounded through decades and personnel changes. Topped by Mr. Petty's feisty, proudly homely Everyman voice, the midtempo songs cruise down a broad folk-rock highway with off-ramps for blues, British Invasion pop, Southern rock and funk. But the point of the anthology is to show how the Heartbreakers fight routine. They rethink arrangements, open up jams, delve into lesser-known songs and play widely assorted cover versions, from Bo Diddley's "Diddy Wah Diddy" to the Zombies' "I Want You Back Again" to the "Goldfinger" theme. Mr. Petty chose the songs for spontaneity, glimmers of vulnerability and musical perils overcome, including a few songs -- "Melinda," "Surrender," "Drivin' Down to Georgia" -- that never reached studio albums. Clearly, the band members keep listening to one another. The four-CD version is ample; the deluxe box is overwhelming. (Reprise, four CDs, $24.98; five CDs, two DVDs, Blu-ray DVD, vinyl EP, $149.98.)