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Rock - Released January 1, 2010 | Geffen

Hi-Res Distinctions The Qobuz Ideal Discography - Hi-Res Audio
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Rock - Released January 1, 1979 | Geffen

Hi-Res Distinctions The Qobuz Ideal Discography
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Rock - Released November 23, 2009 | Warner Bros.

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It's a commonly held opinion among fans and band alike that Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers' lone live album, 1986's Pack Up the Plantation, didn't quite capture the group at its peak, so there has been a long-standing need for another live set, which 2009's Live Anthology finally provides. Like its closest cousin, Bruce Springsteen's Live 1975-1985, Live Anthology almost overcompensates for the long wait by offering almost too much music, cherry picking highlights from 1978 to 2007. In its simplest incarnation, Live Anthology is a super-affordable, four-disc box set running 48 tracks, which is eight cuts longer than Springsteen's box, plenty long enough for most fans, but in its deluxe version, there's an additional CD, plus two previously unreleased DVDs -- a 1978 New Year's Eve concert from Santa Monica, a documentary called 400 Days shot during the Wildflowers tour -- a Blu-Ray edition of all 62 tracks on the five-CD version, a vinyl copy of the 1976 Official Live 'Leg LP, plus a book and lithograph, along with other assorted bonuses. Certainly, the deluxe edition lives up to its billing, offering enough extras to justify its price tag, but the standard edition is plenty generous as it is, serving up enough consistently strong music from throughout the decades, ranging from expert covers of Willie Dixon and the Grateful Dead to deep treasures from the Heartbreakers catalog. Apart from the tendency to favor performances that stretch on a little too long with jamming -- something that is a matter of taste, as some prefer energy to improvisations -- if there's any flaw to the set, it's how it goes out of its way to prove the band's consistency by skipping through the decades, letting a version of "Louisiana Rain" from 1982 sit next to a 1997 cover of "Green Onions" and "Melinda" from 2003. This certainly goes a long way to illustrating that Petty & the Heartbreakers always delivered the goods, but it's somewhat at the expense of forward momentum; it's hard not to wish that it was arranged chronologically, to be able to hear the raw energy give way to easy skill, but that's just nit picking -- any way you look at it, this Live Anthology offers an overdose of prime rock & roll. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine
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Rock - Released April 21, 2010 | Reprise

Distinctions 3F de Télérama
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Rock - Released January 1, 1991 | Geffen*

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Rock - Released January 1, 1985 | Geffen*

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Pop - Released January 1, 1981 | Geffen*

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Rock - Released March 26, 1985 | Geffen*

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Rock - Released July 25, 2014 | Reprise

Looking back, it's clear the 2008 Mudcrutch reunion was pivotal for Tom Petty, helping him re-focus and re-dedicate himself to playing in a band. Like the original band, Mudcrutch Mach II didn't last long -- long enough to play a few shows and record a warm, gangly beast of an album -- but it reinvigorated Petty. Afterward, he reveled in the sound of how the Heartbreakers played, digging deep into his catalog to shake up his set lists, letting the group exercise some blues muscles on 2010's Mojo, a record that stood as the Heartbreakers' rowdiest record since the '70s but which is easily overshadowed by the trashy psychedelic pulse of 2014's Hypnotic Eye. Teeming with fuzz, overdriven organ, and hard four-four rhythms, all interrupted by the occasional blues workout or jazz shuffle, Hypnotic Eye comes across as a knowing splice of Petty's own XM radio show Buried Treasures and Little Steven Van Zandt's Sirius channel Underground Garage, a record that celebrates all the disreputable 45s created in garages so they could be played in garages. Occasionally, the band evoke memories of their own past -- "Shadow People" has guitar tones straight out of Shelter Records -- but they're largely dedicated to the sounds that provided them with their original inspirations. What prevents Hypnotic Eye from sliding into the arena of soft, desperate nostalgia is a combination of muscle and savvy, a combination that gives the album a strong infrastructure -- Petty strips his songs to the bone; they're so lean they feel as if they clock in at two minutes, even if they run twice that long -- and a sonic wallop. Much of that visceral thrill is due to co-producers Petty, guitarist Mike Campbell, and Ryan Ulyate accentuating the intuitive interplay in the Heartbreakers with sharp, striking slashes of color; this gives the record immediacy and complexity, which means there is enough aural activity that repeated plays do not dull the LP's initial bracing impact. Ultimately, Hypnotic Eye is a record about the pure joy of sound, a rush that doesn't lessen upon repetition -- a sentiment that's true of those old '60s garage rock singles and early Heartbreakers albums, and this is a surprisingly, satisfyingly vigorous record. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine
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Pop - Released November 2, 1982 | Geffen*

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Riding high on the back-to-back Top Five, platinum hits Damn the Torpedoes and Hard Promises, Tom Petty quickly returned to the studio to record the Heartbreakers' fifth album, Long After Dark. Truth be told, there was about as long a gap between Dark and Promises as there was between Promises and Torpedoes, but there was a difference this time around -- Petty & the Heartbreakers sounded tired. Even if there are a few new wave flourishes here and there, the band hasn't really changed its style at all -- it's still Stonesy, Byrds-ian heartland rock. As their first four albums illustrated, that isn't a problem in itself, since they've found numerous variations within their signature sound, providing they have the right songs. Unfortunately, Petty had a dry spell on Long After Dark. With its swirling, minor key guitars, "You Got Lucky" is a classic and "Change of Heart" comes close to matching those peaks, but the remaining songs rarely rise above agreeable filler. Since the Heartbreakers are a very good band, it means the record sounds pretty good as it's playing, but apart from those few highlights, nothing much is memorable once the album has finished. And coming on the heels of two excellent records, that's quite a disappointment. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine
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Rock - Released January 1, 1991 | Geffen*

Since Full Moon Fever was an unqualified commercial and critical success, perhaps it made sense that Tom Petty chose to follow its shiny formula when he reunited with the Heartbreakers for its follow-up, Into the Great Wide Open. Nevertheless, the familiarity of Into the Great Wide Open is something of a disappointment. The Heartbreakers' sound has remained similar throughout their career, but they had never quite repeated themselves until here. Technically, it isn't a repeat, since they weren't credited on Full Moon, but Wide Open sounds exactly like Full Moon, thanks to Jeff Lynne's overly stylized production. Again, it sounds like a cross between latter-day ELO and roots rock (much like the Traveling Wilburys, in that sense), but the production has become a touch too careful and precise, bordering on the sterile at times. And, unfortunately, the quality of the songwriting doesn't match Full Moon or Let Me Up (I've Had Enough). That's not to say that it rivals the uninspired Long After Dark, since Petty was a better craftsman in 1991 than he was in 1983. There are a number of minor gems -- "Learning to Fly," "Kings Highway," "Into the Great Wide Open" -- but there are no knockouts, either; it's like Full Moon Fever if there were only "Apartment Song"s and no "Free Fallin'"s. In other words, enough for a pleasant listen, but not enough to resonate like his best work. (And considering this, perhaps it wasn't surprising that Petty chose to change producers and styles on his next effort, the solo Wildflowers.) ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine
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Pop - Released April 2, 1999 | Warner Bros.

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Pop - Released January 1, 1982 | Geffen*

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Rock - Released January 1, 1979 | Geffen

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Not long after You're Gonna Get It, Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers' label, Shelter, was sold to MCA Records. Petty struggled to free himself from the major label, eventually sending himself into bankruptcy. He settled with MCA and set to work on his third album, digging out some old Mudcrutch numbers and quickly writing new songs. Amazingly, through all the frustration and anguish, Petty & the Heartbreakers delivered their breakthrough and arguably their masterpiece with Damn the Torpedoes. Musically, it follows through on the promise of their first two albums, offering a tough, streamlined fusion of the Stones and Byrds that, thanks to Jimmy Iovine's clean production, sounded utterly modern yet timeless. It helped that the Heartbreakers had turned into a tighter, muscular outfit, reminiscent of, well, the Stones in their prime -- all of the parts combine into a powerful, distinctive sound capable of all sorts of subtle variations. Their musical suppleness helps bring out the soul in Petty's impressive set of songs. He had written a few classics before -- "American Girl," "Listen to Her Heart" -- but here his songwriting truly blossoms. Most of the songs have a deep melancholy undercurrent -- the tough "Here Comes My Girl" and "Even the Losers" have tender hearts; the infectious "Don't Do Me Like That" masks a painful relationship; "Refugee" is a scornful, blistering rocker; "Louisiana Rain" is a tear-jerking ballad. Yet there are purpose and passion behind the performances that makes Damn the Torpedoes an invigorating listen all the same. Few mainstream rock albums of the late '70s and early '80s were quite as strong as this, and it still stands as one of the great records of the album rock era. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine
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Rock - Released November 16, 1993 | Geffen

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Rock - Released April 21, 1987 | Geffen*

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Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers spent much of 1986 on the road as Bob Dylan's backing band. Dylan's presence proved to be a huge influence on the Heartbreakers, turning them away from the well-intentioned but slick pretensions of Southern Accents and toward a loose, charmingly ramshackle roots rock that harked back to their roots yet exhibited the professional eclecticism they developed during the mid-'80s. All of this was on full display on Let Me Up (I've Had Enough), their simplest and best album since Hard Promises. Not to say that Let Me Up is a perfect album -- far from it, actually. Filled with loose ends, song fragments, and unvarnished productions, it's a defiantly messy album, and it's all the better for it, especially arriving on the heels of the well-groomed Accents. Apart from the (slightly dated) rant "Jammin' Me'" (co-written by Dylan, but you can't tell), there aren't any standouts on the record, but there's no filler either -- it's just simply a good collection of ballads ("Runaway Trains"), country-rockers ("The Damage You've Done"), pop/rock ("All Mixed Up," "Think About Me"), and hard rockers ([RoviLink="MC"]"Let Me Up [I've Had Enough]"[/RoviLink]). While that might not be enough to qualify Let Me Up as one of Petty & the Heartbreakers' masterpieces, it is enough to qualify it as the most underrated record in their catalog. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine
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Rock - Released October 8, 2002 | Warner Bros.

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Rock - Released January 1, 2010 | Geffen

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Rock - Released November 26, 1985 | Geffen

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Rock - Released November 29, 1977 | Cult Legends

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Tom Petty And The Heartbreakers in the magazine