This installment in the Classic Albums DVD series, to be released August 3, 2010, comes amidst a North American tour from Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers, promoting their latest release, Mojo. Originally released in 1979, Damn the Torpedoes, was a breakthrough record for the band, in terms of song quality, overall production values, and sales. It has gone on to become one of the top rock albums of the past thirty years.
(Damn the Torpedoes, master tape box)
This Classic Albums installment follows the series formula, with a large component consisting of Petty, guitarist Mike Campbell, and producer Jimmy Iovine sitting at the recording console, playing back the tapes. For anyone who has taken this album for granted over the years--or thought it was just straight ahead rock and roll, you'll come away with a greater appreciation for the thought and musicianship that went into these songs. And as someone who came of age in the Eighties and picked up Torpedoes at the time of release, it's nice to see it get the respect it deserves.
(Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers, 1981)
Present-day interviews with recording engineer Shelly Yakus, keyboardist Benmont Tench, and bassist Ron Blair are also featured--and they too, take us through their parts of various recordings. Drummer Stan Lynch, who is no longer with the band, is featured in several older interviews. Video footage from the era as well as from original music videos, round out the presentation. Every song on the album--but two, are covered within the nearly one hour main feature, and the bandmembers--primarily Petty and Campbell, offer plenty of insights into the songwriting process.
(Producer Jimmy Iovine, Tom Petty, Mike Campbell)
Although any fan of the record would enjoy this Classic Albums installment, what makes it particularly fascinating for musicians and audiophiles is Petty's, and to an even greater extent Campbell's genuine obsession with vintage guitars and amps, and finding the perfect guitar tone--sixty-cycle hum can be heard purring from the amp every time Campbell picks up his guitar to play a lick from the album.
In addition to the main feature, there are over forty minutes worth of bonus features. Two of those features are the two album cuts "missing" from the main feature. Among the rest of the bonus material, none of which fortunately, are throw-away celebrity interviews--and much of which is equally as entertaining as the main feature, is Campbell recounting how he acquired the famous Rickenbacker 12-string held by Petty on the Damn the Torpedoes album cover.
(Mike Campbell, with Rickenbacker 12-string)
Video quality of this 1080p Blu-Ray disc varies, depending upon its original source, with the recent interviews obviously having been recorded in HD, faring the best. Audio is presented in LPCM stereo, and although not in 5.1 as some might prefer--it sounds very good. Although the argument for buying the Blu-Ray over the standard DVD isn't particularly compelling with a disc such as this, it's probably worth the four dollar price differential between the two.
This latest installment stays true to the winning format of the Classic Albums DVD series. If you're a fan of Damn the Torpedoes, and have enjoyed some of the other videos in this series, you'll be sure to enjoy this excellent look into one of the finest rock albums of the last thirty years.
Related: Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers -- Mojo 180 gram vinyl (w/bonus hi-res download)
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