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Tom Petty Rides To New Wave Fame
Review by Greg Jaklewicz
The Brand — February 8, 1980
‘Torpedoes’ Album 60’s Rock
Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers | DAMN THE TORPEDOES | (Backstreet (MCA), $6.90 at Hastings)
Tom Petty and his Heartbreakers soared out of the pack of New Wave artists in the late ’70s and already have become a major force in the return to good ole 1960’s rock & roll.
Petty’s music has transcended the original Punk scene and fits nicely into the class of artistic New Wave material that has gained immense popularity such as that by the Cars. The music is driving, forceful and is packed with emotion from the soul of the artist.
The first time I listened closely to his latest hit, ‘Refugee,’ I thought I was hearing an old Bob Dylan tune. Petty’s vocals in the hit single have fooled even the die-hard Dylan fan on initial listenings.
Side 2 contains the hit “Don’t Do Me Like That’ but it side 1 that provides the best listening. My favorite is ‘Here Comes My Girl’ because of the excellent guitar work of Petty and co-writer Mike Campbell. The topic echoes the theme of the album which is a look at the life as Petty has seen it through the eyes of the everyday man.
In this song, Petty talks about being stuck in a rut in your hometown. Somehow, things aren’t so bad when he is with his girl and he can rise above all the hard work that seems to be taking him nowhere.
Joining the accompaniment of the well-planned guitar work are the lyrics. In ‘Refugee,’ Petty describes bad love as “Somewhere, somehow, somebody must have kicked you around some/Who knows, maybe you were kidnapped, tied up and held for ransom.” He adds that “Baby, everybody had to fight to be free/So you don’t have to be like a refugee.”
The side also has ‘Even the Losers,’ ‘Shadow of a Doubt (A Complex Kid)’ and ‘Century City,’ all of which feature a driving rock sound that quickly takes you from first to last groove of the record. Each song is easy to relate to, unpretentiously rock & roll.
Petty even stepped out of character a bit to record ‘Louisiana Rain,’ a nice change from the crowded sidewalks and nowhere towns he hails from. The Heartbreakers, now veterans of three albums, are among the reasons why New Wave has grown on the American public at the same time disco has maintained a tight grip. Damn the Torpedoes is a treatise into rock & roll’s original roots and its works in the 80’s.