Saturday, October 18, 2014

damn the torpedoes

Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers fought to be free and reached their high water mark with this triumphant tour de force.  After two albums ('Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers' and 'You're Gonna Get It!') on Shelter Records, Petty was frustrated when major label MCA acquired Shelter and the rights to his music.  In an effort to get out from under their control, Petty took on the costs (almost half a millon dollars) of recording their third album and then filed for bankruptcy.  His plan worked and MCA released him from his contract and signed a new three million dollar deal on their Backstreet subsidiary.  

'Damn the Torpedoes' was recorded in California at Sound City in Van Nuys and Cherokee Studios in Hollywood.  Petty and Jimmy Iovine co-produced the sessions that featured Tom Petty on 6 & 12 string guitars, lead vocals, and harmonica;   Mike Campbell on 6 & 12 string guitars, slide guitar, keyboards, accordion, and bass guitar;   Benmont Tench on piano, organ, harmonium, and vocals;   Ron Blair on electric bass guitar;  and Stan Lynch on drums and vocals;   with Donald "Duck" Dunn adding bass on "You Tell Me" and Jim Keltner providing percussion on "Refugee". 

Campbell recalls: "When we were at the studio mixing it, I remember this one girl who was working in reception, she came in and heard the mix and she said, 'That's a hit, that's a hit,' and we looked at each other and said, 'Maybe it is.' You don't always know. Sometimes you think certain things are surefire and people just don't latch on to them and other things they do. You know when it's good or not, but you don't always know if it's a hit. A hit record a lot of times is more than just the song, it's the timing, the climate you put it out in, what people are listening to and what they're expecting to hear and if it touches a nerve at a certain time."

'Damn the Torpedoes' became a massive success, going to number fifty-seven in the UK, twenty-seven in the Netherlands, fifteen in Australia, two in Canada and the US, and number one in New Zealand.  In the US, it held at number two for seven weeks, just behind Pink Floyd's 'The Wall'.  It has been certified double platinum in Canada and the US.

"Refugee" became reflected their struggle with MCA.  Petty says:   "This was a reaction to the pressures of the music business. I wound up in a huge row with the record company when ABC Records tried to sell our contract to MCA Records without us knowing about it, despite a clause in our contract that said they didn't have the right to do that. I was so angry with the whole system that I think that had a lot to do with the tone of the Damn the Torpedoes album. I was in this defiant mood. I wasn't so conscious of it then, but I can look back and see what was happening. I find that's true a lot. It takes some time usually before you fully understand what's going on in a song--or maybe what led up to it."    The single went to number twenty-four in Australia and the Netherlands, fifteen in the US, three in New Zealand, and two in Canada.

We got somethin' we both know it 

We don't talk too much about it 
Yeah it ain't no real big secret all the same
Somehow we get around it 
Listen it don't really matter to me baby 
You believe what you want to believe
You see you don't have to live like a refugee

Somewhere, somehow somebody 

Must have kicked you around some
Tell me why you want to lay there 
And revel in your abandon
Listen it don't make no difference to me baby 
Everybody's had to fight to be free
You see you don't have to live like a refugee
Now baby you don't have to live like a refugee

Baby we ain't the first 

I'm sure a lot of other lover's been burned
Right now this seems real to you
But it's one of those things
You gotta feel to be true

Somewhere, somehow somebody 

Must have kicked you around some
Who knows, maybe you were kidnapped
Tied up, taken away and held for ransom
It don't really matter to me
Everybody's had to fight to be free
You see you don't have to live like a refugee
I said you don't have to live like a refugee

"Here Comes My Girl"

"Don't Do Me Like That" became the band's biggest hit in the US, peaking at number ten.

'Damn the Torpedoes' 
full album:  

All songs were written by Tom Petty, except where noted.

Side one
"Refugee" (Petty, Mike Campbell) 00:00
"Here Comes My Girl" (Petty, Campbell) 03:21
"Even the Losers" 08:12
"Shadow of a Doubt (A Complex Kid)" 11:51
"Century City" 16:16
Side two
"Don't Do Me Like That" 20:02
"You Tell Me" 22:47
"What Are You Doin' in My Life?" 27:20

"Louisiana Rain" 30:48

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