Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers: Damn the Torpedoes (Deluxe Edition)

Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers: Damn the Torpedoes
In 1979, Tom Petty was a burgeoning superstar. His debut single, “Breakdown” had cracked the top 40 in 1977 and his 1978 album, You’re Gonna Get It! contained two top 100 singles but Petty was not what we think of as Tom Petty today. That all started to change with Tom Petty’s third album, Damn the Torpedoes which was recently re-released in Duluxe Edition two-CD set.
Upon release, Damn the Torpedoes was critically applauded as well as being commercially viable. The album produced two top 20 singles: “Don’t Do Me Like That”and “Refugee”. In addition the album rose to number two on the Billboard charts being shout out from the number one spot by Pink Floyd‘s The Wall. In 2003, the album was ranked number 313 on Rolling Stone magazine’s list of the 500 greatest albums of all time; it is the only Tom Petty album to appear on the countdown.
So what is it about Damn the Torpedoes that has made it Tom Petty’s most celebrate album? Listening to the 2010 remaster, it seems pretty apparent. Tom Petty’s song writing incorporates the folk of youth with hints of The Byrds and Dylan. But that folk is incorporated into the bluesy rock format of The Stones to create a sound that straddles the line between pop and rock while still having lyrical substance to it.
Those same sensibilities apply to the bonus tracks offered on the second CD. Of course the bonus tracks include the obligatory alternate takes and live tracks but it also features unreleased tracks and b-sides. “Casa Dega” stands out as the star of the bunch. The track was a b-side on the “Don’t Do Me Like That” single and the second disc presents both the single version as well as a demo version. The track is fairly reservedl; It starts with barebones drum beat just on the toms and snare. The drum beat is augmented by an equally minimalist bass line. Damn the Torpedoes feels like an album of big guitar riffs but “Casa Dega” feels like it barely features any guitar with just a hint of electric organ serving as the layer above the bass. This backdrop allows for Petty to really shine lyrically. Petty paints a picture with his words, he sings “well the clouds rolled by/In a big blue sky/as the sun beats down on Casa Dega”. But then the song’s time period switches to night and Petty begins singing of his interactions with a woman. He cryptically sings “yeah and she knows my name/yeah and she knows my place/in the past and the present and for the future”. This makes me think the woman might be a lover but the song ends with her saying to Petty “baby fools pay the price of a whisper in the night in Casa Dega/Time rolls by, night is only night, cannot save you”. The words seem particularly haunting coming from Petty.
For “Casa Dega” alone, Damn the Torpedoes‘ deluxe reissue is probably worth the purchase but for Petty fans or music historians there is plenty to love about the album. The remastering sounds great and the bonus tracks are not songs that were left on the cutting room floor for obvious reasons; they all could easily have been included and the album would have remained as good.
Rating: 10/10
MP3: Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers “Casa Dega”
Buy: iTunes or Insound!