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Rock - Released September 28, 2018 | Reprise

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What better than a 4-CD box set to crown the career of an artist who left us too soon? In 2017, Tom Petty’s sudden passing broke the hearts of all true rock enthusiasts. His wife Dana and his daughter Adria decided to grieve by working on this An American Treasure album. After leaving behind many unreleased treasures, his close ones, such as producer Ryan Ulyate and band members Mike Campbell and Benmont Tench put their heart and soul into this production. A “family” selection that features demos, alternative versions, album tracks and live performances, showing the evolution of the Heatbreakers’ frontman. Outtakes from the 1976 (Surrender), alternative versions from the 1979 (Louisiana Rain) and demos from the 1984 (The Apartment Song), everything here is powerful with a great sound, thanks to the careful remastering work of Chris Bellman, who had already worked on recordings from Diana Ross, Rick James and a few other Motown artists. The album retraces Tom Petty’s debuts with the Heartbrakers as well as the band Mudcrutch, but also his solo career with over 60 tracks in Hi-Res 24Bit. In a chronological order, this four-hour anthology ends with his 2016 live performance of Hungry No More. An emotional experience both for his fans and the younger generations wishing to discover this key artist in American rock history. © Anna Coluthe/Qobuz
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Pop - Released January 1, 1989 | Geffen*

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Pop - Released October 21, 1994 | 143 - Warner Bros.

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Rock - Released September 28, 2018 | Reprise

What better than a 4-CD box set to crown the career of an artist who left us too soon? In 2017, Tom Petty’s sudden passing broke the hearts of all true rock enthusiasts. His wife Dana and his daughter Adria decided to grieve by working on this An American Treasure album. After leaving behind many unreleased treasures, his close ones, such as producer Ryan Ulyate and band members Mike Campbell and Benmont Tench put their heart and soul into this production. A “family” selection that features demos, alternative versions, album tracks and live performances, showing the evolution of the Heatbreakers’ frontman. Outtakes from the 1976 (Surrender), alternative versions from the 1979 (Louisiana Rain) and demos from the 1984 (The Apartment Song), everything here is powerful with a great sound, thanks to the careful remastering work of Chris Bellman, who had already worked on recordings from Diana Ross, Rick James and a few other Motown artists. The album retraces Tom Petty’s debuts with the Heartbrakers as well as the band Mudcrutch, but also his solo career with over 60 tracks in Hi-Res 24Bit. In a chronological order, this four-hour anthology ends with his 2016 live performance of Hungry No More. An emotional experience both for his fans and the younger generations wishing to discover this key artist in American rock history. © Anna Coluthe/Qobuz
£15.99
£13.99

Rock - Released July 24, 2006 | American Recordings

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Rock - Released July 11, 2018 | Reprise

£16.49

Rock - Released January 1, 2000 | Geffen

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Rock - Released August 23, 2018 | Reprise

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Rock - Released September 28, 2018 | Reprise

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£11.99

Rock - Released October 26, 2017 | Cult Legends

£7.99

Pop - Released January 1, 1989 | Geffen*

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Rock - Released July 25, 1987 | Cult Legends

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Rock - Released July 21, 2006 | American Recordings

Tom Petty's concept for his third solo album is laid bare in its very title: it's called Highway Companion, which is a tip-off that this record was made with the road in mind. As it kicks off with the chugging Jimmy Reed-via-ZZ Top riff on "Saving Grace," the album does indeed seem to be ideal music for road trips, but Petty changes gears pretty quickly, down-shifting to the bittersweet acoustic "Square One." Although the album ramps back up with the '60s-styled pop of "Flirting with Time" and the swampy, Dylan-esque "Down South," the quick move to the ruminative is a good indication that for as good as Highway Companion can sound on the road, Petty looks inward on this album just as frequently as he looks outward. Perhaps this is the best indication that this is indeed a solo affair, not a rock & roll record with the Heartbreakers. Petty of course doesn't go it completely alone here: his longtime guitarist Mike Campbell is here as is producer/co-writer Jeff Lynne, who helmed Petty's 1989 solo debut, Full Moon Fever, and the Heartbreakers' 1991 Into the Great Wide Open and now returns to the fold 15 years later. Lynne's previous Petty productions were so bright, big, and shiny, they would have been suitable for an ELO album, and given that track record, it would be easy to assume that he would follow the same template for Highway Companion, but that's not the case at all. Highway Companion has as much in common with the rustic, handmade overtones of 1994's Wildflowers as it does with the pop sheen of Full Moon Fever -- it is precise and polished, yet it's on a small scale, lacking the layers of overdubs that distinguish Lynne's production, and the end result is quite appealing, since it's at once modest but not insular. But Highway Companion also feels a little off, as if Petty is striving to make a fun rock & pop record -- a soundtrack for the summer, or at least a good drive -- but his heart is in making a melancholy introspective album, where he's grappling with getting older. This gives the album a sad undercurrent even at its lightest moments, which makes it ideal for driving alone late at night. Since it arrives after the bombastic The Last DJ, it's refreshing to hear Petty underplay his themes here, and it also helps that Lynne helps toughen up his songcraft. All this makes Highway Companion at the very least another typically reliable collection from Petty, but at its core, it's moodier than most of his records. It has a lot in common with Petty's divorce album, Echo, but it's coming from a different place -- one that's content, yet still unsettled. That may mean that this album isn't quite as fun as it initially seems on the surface, but that bittersweet undercurrent does indeed make Highway Companion a good partner for long nights on the road. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine
£6.39

Rock - Released October 26, 2017 | Cult Legends

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Rock - Released September 20, 2018 | Reprise

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Rock - Released June 2, 2015 | Warner Bros.

£13.99

Rock - Released July 24, 2006 | American Recordings

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Rock - Released September 28, 2018 | Reprise

An American Treasure, the first posthumous Tom Petty project, is designed as an aural biography of the late rocker, telling a tale that begins with a Mudcrutch session from 1974, running through the glory of Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers in 1976, and concluding with a live version of "Hungry No More" from 2016, just over a year prior to his tragic 2017 passing. Arriving roughly a year after Petty's death, the timing for An American Treasure makes sense -- he certainly deserved a tribute -- but in strict discographical terms, there didn't seem to be a need for a second career-spanning box set, as he already had 1995's rarity-laden box Playback and a multi-disc The Live Anthology from 2009. Happily, An American Treasure offers a story that's not told on either previous set, and that's a complete picture of Petty's career, told entirely through byways, not highways. The compilers -- a team consisting of his widow Dana, daughter Adria, bandmates Mike Campbell and Benmont Tench, plus longtime producer Ryan Ulyate -- made a conscious decision not to replicate any material from Playback, which meant that there wasn't room for the original hit versions of any of Petty's hits. Ultimately, this meant that many of his best-known songs are nowhere to be found on An American Treasure, but that winds up as a feature, not a bug. In the absence of "American Girl," "Refugee," "The Waiting," and "Free Falling," the spotlight shifts to the remarkable consistency of Tom Petty's catalog, which is represented through deep cuts, alternate takes, live versions, and unheard songs. Upon first glance at the track listing, it may seem like there's not a treasure trove of unheard material, but as An American Treasure plays, what becomes clear is that the bigger picture counts more than the individual details. Not that the box doesn't serve up some unexpected surprises from all eras: an alternate "Rebels" has a muscle lacking on the original version, Echo generates two fine rarities in "Gainesville" and "I Don't Belong," the plaintive outtake "Don't Fade on Me" could've fit onto Wildflowers with no problem. It's fun to cherry-pick these tracks, but An American Treasure carries a greater resonance by demonstrating how Petty kept growing through the years, not only as a songwriter but a performer; some of the best moments are hearing him sing older songs later in his career. The trick An American Treasure pulls off is weaving these latter-day performances into the place where the songs were originally written, so this not only provides a narrative but also gives a sense of continuity, which is a rare thing in a decades-spanning box like this. As such, this box winds up as a fitting tribute to a rocker whose touch was so casual, he could be easy to take for granted, but when his work is looked at as a whole, he seems like a giant. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine