Tom Petty describes the September 28th standard release as a “28 track set of previously unreleased recordings, alternate version of classic songs, rarities, historic live performances and deep tracks.” Now the standard release is not to be confused with the Box Set which includes 60 tracks, a hard bound book featuring photographs as well as a 1982 music video. I was happy to get this review, as I am a huge Tom Petty fan then again I don’t know anyone who isn’t a fan of the rocker. We tragically lost Tom Petty in October 2017 and this album had been in the works since his passing. Those of you who are fans of Tom Petty will find this release will find an interesting mixture of tracks on this album. Full disclosure, the first CD I ever owned was Tom Petty And The Heart Breakers Greatest Hits. In my bedroom with the door closed and the music turned up I listened to “Mary Jane’s Last Dance” until I could sing the music in my sleep. Interestingly enough I do not recognize a single track from this release. And for years I though myself a Tom Petty fan, I even bought a ticket to see him in Charlotte North Carolina years ago. So some of you may be shocked to see an unfamiliar track list. That said, let’s get into it.
I’ll go through some of my favorite tracks, a real treat for those of us who love collaborations “Apartment Song” featuring Stevie Nicks is a choice track. It’s got all the tasty licks you’d come to expect from Petty as well as vocals by Stevie Nicks. A little research taught me that the song was originally recorded in 1984 in California and on this re-release the song is the demo version. You will find demo versions, remastered tracks and more on this album. I have a little beef with songs being remastered, maybe I don’t understand it but I like the original versions on vinyl. Crusty, original rock and roll. And if you’re like me you’ll be happy to know the album is available in vinyl. And if you’re a fan of remastered tracks, perhaps you know something I don’t, “To Find a Friend” is a remastered track on the album that is hypnotically good. Somehow in all my years being a Tom Petty fan this track avoided me, like the lyrics say “The days went by like paper in the wind, everything changed then changed again. It’s hard to find a friend, it’s hard to find a friend, it’s hard to find a friend.” So to me finding this track was hard but well worth it.
Some people may find Tom Petty to be overly simplistic lyrically, but for this reviewer it’s really the total package of lyrics, music and delivery that makes Tom Petty an American Treasure. “To Find a Friend” so hauntingly simple but so deep, music and lyrics doing a dance together that feels to summons some classic tracks from The Beatles. Going back to The Beatles is a stretch but Tom Petty had been rocking America for 40 years at the time of his passing. Something about the guitars almost feels like The Beatles and the lyrics feels a bit like Bob Dylan. Two huge musical influences that Petty shared the limelight with.
An alternate take of “Don’t Fade on Me” from 1994 is another track worth giving a listen. This track is one I do remember a friend telling me about many years ago. He described it as his favorite Tom Petty song. It definitely has a more of a country feel and if I had to, I would describe it as more similar to Bob Dylan. A song about remembering “I remember you so clearly, the first one through the door. I returned to find you drifting too far from the shore”, possibly a tale about the musicians own battles with addiction. “You’re the one who made things different. You’re the one who took me in. you’re the one thing I could count in. And above all you were my friend.” Don’t fade on me is a real melancholy track about the dangers of addiction in my opinion.
In conclusion those of you, new and old Tom Petty fans have a real gem of an album out there. I feel slightly biased reviewing this album because Tom Petty is one of my favorite artists of all time, that said I give it a rating: 5/5 stars.