Tom Petty - 5 Highlights Of An American Treasure

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Tom Petty - 5 Highlights Of An American Treasure

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Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers perform at the Aragon Ballroom, Chicago, Illinois, November 23, 1979. (Photo by Kirk West/Getty Images)
Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers perform at the Aragon Ballroom, Chicago, Illinois, November 23, 1979. (Photo by Kirk West/Getty Images)

As we announced here, September 28 sees the release of a wonderful new Tom Petty set, An American Treasure. To be released just shy of the first anniversary of his passing, the 60 track collection was compiled by Petty's widow Dana, daughter Adria, his two longest-serving bandmates - guitarist Mike Campbell and keyboardist Benmont Tench - and longtime engineer Ryan Ulyate. It does a brilliant job of tracing Tom’s career without repeating the same old same old. It really does show the depth of his brilliance, and in addition to a good number of much-loved classic recordings, it includes plenty of unreleased live and studio recordings. Of course, a lot of this material is not on YouTube yet, so here we have mostly different versions of our favourite tracks from this soon to be released musical mother lode.  

An American Treasure is out on Sept 28 and available to pre-order here. 

Surrender 

A regular feature of the set in Tom & The Heartbreakers’ early days, “Surrender” took on something of a mythical status when it basically just seemed to disappear without having been released. Indeed the first available recording of the song came when Tom gave the tune to Phil Seymour, a former member of Tom’s Shelter Records label mates and power pop icons the Dwight Twilley Band. Phil, who had had a sizable Australian hit with “Precious To Me” in 1981, and had provided the distinctive high backing vocals on both “American Girl” and “Breakdown” on the first Heartbreakers album, was looking for material for his second album and “Surrender” suited him to a tee. Tom didn’t release a version of his own until 2009 when a 1983 live version was included on the magnificent live 4CD set The Live Anthology.

An American Treasure will bring joy to long-time Petty fans’ hearts by making an unreleased studio version – an outtake from Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers first album, from 1976 – finally available. Let’s have a listen to Phil Seymour’s version, and then a great version by Tom & The Heartbreakers recorded live for the German music TV program Rockpalast in 1977.

Listen To Her Heart 

ILYOS thinks that Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers’ most under-rated album – and possibly their best – is their second, You’re Gonna Get It, from 1977. It came after the early breakthroughs with “Breakdown” from the first album, and before the worldwide smashes that were Damn the Torpedoes and “Refugee”. It’s their best guitar record, and a great set of short and sharp tunes that perhaps best reflected the influence that the so-called New Wave had on the band. (It’s easy to forget that in some circles, Petty was considered a “punk” when that first album appeared; in reality, it was just a case of his music, like that of the Ramones and a few others at the time reflecting the simplicity of the mid-60s). You’re Gonna Get It also was the album to most consistently reflected Tom’s love of the jangly guitar sound pioneered by the Byrds. “Listen to Her Heart” is one of the gems from the album, and it’s represented on An American Treasure by a version recorded live at Capitol Studios in November 1977. Check out this great version from six months later, performed on the BBC’s Old Grey Whistle Test show.  

Insider 

One of a handful of tracks Tom & band recorded with Stevie Nicks, “Insider” has long been overshadowed by “Stop Dragging My Heart Around”, but it’s no less a song. Tom and Stevie were a perfect vocal match, and “Insider” is one of those songs that made The Heartbreakers’ name seem so perfect. The song is represented on An American Treasure by a  live version from 2006; check out the original video for the 1981 Hard Promises version here. 

Read more: An Enduring Friendship - Stevie Nicks & Tom Petty

King Of The Hill 

Not a song that casual Petty fans will be familiar with, “King of the Hill” was co-written by Tom and his hero Roger McGuinn of the Byrds, and released as a duet between the two on Roger’s 1990 album Back From Rio. We’ll hear an early take of the song, from 1987, on An American Dream, but you can check out the original film clip for the 1990 version here. It’s a great tune, and one that gives you an idea of how much Tom was influenced by Roger’s voice and 12-string guitar sound. Thankfully he didn’t adopt Roger’s hairstyles. Oddly enough, the tune would also give its title in 1997 to an acclaimed cartoon series; one in which Tom Petty himself voiced the character of the much-loved character named Lucky. 

Something Good Coming 

Jumping forward 20 years to what can now be seen as the later years of Tom’s career, Tom’s family and band members have chosen this wonderful track for An American Treasure. One of his most affecting ballads, it was originally a highlight of 2010’s Mojo album, which found Tom reuniting with the Heartbreakers in the studio for the first time in 8 years, and which was acclaimed as a true comeback by one of the all-time great American rock’n’roll groups. In hindsight the song’s lyrical now thrust takes on a bittersweet poignancy. If you haven’t heard it, have a listen now as you watch the not-often screened official video.

Read more: Hi Honey Heartbreaker - The Tom Petty & Daddy Cool Connection 

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