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Rock Music: Petty set offers major overview
By Mark Brown
Youngstown Vindicator — Friday, November 24, 1995
Tom Petty fans are getting a good dose of previously unheard stuff in a new boxed set.
It’s finally here: This week marks the release of a bunch of unheard songs from one of the greatest songwriting teams in rock music, along with a full career retrospective.
No, not that team. You’ve got Beatles on the brain, mate.
Besides, Lennon/McCartney sets a standard that probably can never be matched. But at times, Tom Petty and Mike Campbell have come pretty close.
“Playback: 1973-1994” comes out this week, and it’s everything you could hope for in a boxed set — from Petty’s early demos to scasa of unreleased songs, as well as all the big hits, overlooked album tracks and hard-to-find B-sides.
Petty fans will find it loaded with treasures; casual fans could pick it up and find out what they’ve been missing. The whole story is here.
Petty’s hometown of Gainesville, Fla., was probably one of the unhippest places to be growing up in the ’60s, but appearances can be deceiving: there was a quiet revolution going on.
Like Liverpool: “No wonder all these guys came out so good from Gainesville. The local kids hanging around the high school dances were the Allmans, the Eagles, Steve Stills, Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers,” said journalist Bill Flanagan, who wrote the liner notes for the boxed set. “It was like the Liverpool of America, and we never knew it.”
While Petty has always gotten acclaim and hits, he’s not given the genius status that Bruce Springsteen, Neil Young or Bob Dylan are.
“It’s because he always has hits. If he’s there all the time, if you never go through your ‘Trans’ period, they’ve never going to appreciate you,” Flanagan said, only half-joking.
Flanagan said this set, bringing together some of Petty’s best work, might change that.
“If your view of Tom Petty is based on ‘Jammin’ Me’ and ‘Love is a Long Road,’ it’s easy to say he’s good, but he’s not on top of the mountain,” Flanagan said.
“This box set is kind of like ‘Decade’ in that it really makes a case for this guy being on top of the mountain.”
Sum of parts: Flanagan’s notes also point out how much each member of the band contributes.
“If the band were just called ‘The Heartbreakers,’ then I think that people long ago would have started seeing Mike Campbell as a musician comparable to Keith Richards or The Edge,” Flanagan said.