Wednesday, September 08, 2010

Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers – The Live Anthology

When the first two Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers albums came out in the late 70’s, I was a big fan of the band’s version of 60’s influenced pop. I didn’t pay a lot of attention to them since then, really, though I have respected Petty’s songwriting – unlike many bands in the 80’s and 90’s, I wouldn’t turn off the TV or radio if one of his songs came on - and his many musical accomplishments.

Having just seen a big special on him on VH1, I picked up this 4 CD (!) set at our local library. I guess when you have a career spanning more than 30 years you have lots of songs to choose from to put on a live compilation!

Of course, this set includes all – or at least most – of the hits but the highlight for me is the cool and varied cover songs that the band does. I can imagine these cars doing some of these in their bar band days (I’m assuming they were a cover band before getting signed) as the time period for the tunes is about right and they really know how to play ‘em!

The covers are as diverse as the Yardbirds’ version of “I’m a Man”, Muddy Waters’ version of “I Just Want To Make Love to You”, Booker T’s “Green Onions”, the theme song to “Goldfinger”, the Grateful Dead’s “Friend of the Devil”, Them’s “Mystic Eyes” (though they change this one around enough that it loses the magic of the original – probably the only one of the covers that I don’t care for), Fleetwood Mac’s “Oh Well” and more. Of course, there is also their stellar take on Thunderclap Newman’s “Something in the Air” from their greatest hits record. All are very impressive in their musicianship and coolness factor for the choices.

The originals are all well done, as well, of course, and are all good, though the hip covers really jump out when they come on. Overall, well worth the $20.00-ish that they are charging for the set, whether you are a big Petty fan or not.