By Richard Defendorf
Orlando Sentinel — January 5, 1986
Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, Pack Up the Plantation — Live! (MCA
2-8021): This double album contains 11 Heartbreaker originals and renditions of five tunes by performers who influenced the Heartbreaker sound. From it all, the listener gets a feel for the music and variety, if not the excitement, of a Heartbreaker concert.
The covers are performed as a good bar band would perform them, with arrangements that are more imitative than innovative. Nothing ventured, nothing gained, as they say. ”So You Want to Be a Rock ‘n’ Roll Star” and the Searchers hit ”Needles and Pins” (sung on the choruses with the proper ”needles and PINZ-a” inflection) are crowd-pleasing bows to Heartbreaker heroes. Renditions of the Isley Brothers’ ”Shout” and the Animals single ”Don’t Bring Me Down” come off as merely competent.
The workouts on Heartbreaker originals carry much more force. Petty oldies such as ”The Waiting,” ”American Girl” and ”Refugee” are fine likenesses of their studio counterparts, with horn parts, judiciously expanded instrumental breaks and some fine singing added. Stevie Nicks makes guest appearances on ”Needles and Pins,” where she is no help whatsoever, and on ”Insider,” where her duet with Petty makes the song a standout.
The best music on the album, however, happens with Petty’s new material. If you liked the studio treatment given the title song and ”Rebels” on last year’s Southern Accents, you’ll love what happens to them on stage.