The Petty Archives

The Boom Box: Relooking a classic record
By Christopher Toh
TODAY - Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Damn the Torpedoes | Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers (1979)
Most people here know Tom Petty as ... actually, most people here don't know Tom Petty, but that's not the point. The point is that Damn the Torpedoes was the Heartbreakers' first for MCA Records, a result of the Petty arguments (He tried to legally detach himself from MCA, which resulted in his bankruptcy). But the record company and Petty eventually settled, and he channelled is energies into this effort.

It was a breakthrough for the band -- their first Top 10 album, rising to No. 2 on the Billboard albums chart and only kept from top spot from Pink Floyd's equally excellent The Wall. Key tracks include their two hits, Refugee and Don't Do Me Like That (their first Top 10 single and also recently featured in the Meryl Strep/Alec Baldwin/Steve Martin movie It's Complicated), as well as Here Comes My Girl and Louisiana Rain.

The rather appropriate title -- often seen as a reference to the struggles that Petty encountered prior to recording -- also refers to a famous quote by American Admiral David Farragut, who fought during the civil war. It's usually ascribed as: "Damn the Torpedoes, full speed ahead!" although the actual quote uttered during the Battle Of Mobile Bay was "Damn the torpedoes! Four bells, Captain Drayton, go ahead! Jouett, full speed!"