Compact Discs: Rock Solid Petty
Review by Saw Tek Meng
New Straits Times — August 30, 1986
Pop/Rock: Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers | Pack Up the Plantation — Live! (MCA)
When Petty and the Heartbreakers are in form, they are one of the most exciting rock ‘n’ roll outfits around.
On this 1985 “live” outing, featuring 14 tracks culled from various gigs, they are mostly on song.
Yet, unless you happen to be a Tom Petty fan and possess his studio album or love “live” recordings, my recommendation would be to first explore his studio output, particularly Damn the Torpedoes, Hard Promises, and Southern Accents.
That said, Plantation does a pretty efficient job of translating the band’s well-known stage energy onto disc.
The selections are diverse enough to be a mini retrospective of Petty’s work, ranging from the crowd-pleasing American Girl from his debut album to It Ain’t Nothing To Me and the title track from Southern Accents, his last studio set before this.
Throughout, the band exhibits a strong sense of dynamics and structure, vital requisites for any band aiming to enhance a reputation for being hot on stage.
Among the highlights are Refugee, the semi-acoustic Southern Accents and Stories We Could Tell, ad Breakdown, which had the audience singing along with enthusiasm and prompted Petty to quip: “You’re gonna put me out of a job.”
One of the disappointments is the absence of any duet betwen Petty and Bob Dylan, who had performed with the band during their Southern Accents tour.
As compensation, there are two duets with Stevie Nicks on Insider and Needles and Pins. Good though both songs are, Nicks isn’t exactly Dylan, if you know what I mean.
Sound quality is about average, the recording having retained much of the inherent energy without sacrificing clarity and definition.
No SPARS code (72:29)