Review by Kevin Scher
The Rocket — Friday, February 22, 1980
Every now and then a recording artist of relatively scarce popularity puts out an album that vaults him over the wall of obscurity and lands him as a true rock-and-roll star. So is the case with Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers.
His latest album, Damn the Torpedoes, has sent Petty hurdling into the public eye. His recent appearance on “Saturday Night Live,” rockering record sales, and the album’s position in the upper slots of the record charts, illustrates T.P.’s sudden acceptance and popularity.
The main reason for Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers’ sudden success is their impressive new album, Damn the Torpedoes. Within the album lies a brand of some very catchy, convincing rock-and-roll. The songs grow on you quickly and maintain their vibrant, fresh sound time after time.
The propelling force behind Torpedoes is Petty’s dynamic vocals. He is truly one of the finest rock-and-roll vocalists to emerge in years. There is a vast improvement in his vocal abilities over his previous albums. His four-octave range gives the album a crisp, relentless tone throughout, as each song draws a slightly different Petty interpretion. His accentuation, feel, and timing is superb.
As far as the musical content of Damn the Torpedoes is concerned, the Heartbreakers have it all sewn up. You can feel the energy that the group radiates on almost every cut. However, the album is missing one sorely needed element. There are absolutely no guitar solos on the entire album. There are several songs that are just crying out for a screaming guitar solo. This is particularly true on the romantic rocker, “Here Comes My Girk,” and the speedy “Century City.” Still, whatever is missing in solos is compensated for by the Heartbreakers’ unison, tightness, and Petty’s ripping vocals.
Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers have reached the high plateau of mass-accepted new wave that only few bands such as the “Cars” and “Blondie” have achieved. Damn the Torpedoes gets a solid 8 on my scale of 10. You can resrt assured that “Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers” will be around for a long, long time giving us plenty of great music in the years to come.