Classic Album: Damn The Torpedoes

Damn The Torpedoes – Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers

I have a recurring dream. In my dream I ride a bad-to-the-bone, fat-tyred, low-slung Harley-Davidson Sportster 1200 custom up from the Florida Keys to Memphis Tennessee.


Staying in cheap motels, drinking in bars where guys bet their truck keys on a trick shot in pool, I end up dancing with girl called Casey Jo to Tom Petty songs on the Juke-box. We grabbed food at roadside diner near Montgomery, Alabama as I ride away with her as pillion.

Then I get ambushed and shot dead by her irate boyfriend, Willard. He drives an IROC and listens to American Girl on his cassette player.

You see, Tom Petty is the quintessence of good ol’ boy, Deep South, rock `n’ roll. This album captures that 70s southern rock sound; a whirling, jangly guitar soundtrack to an evening of neat whisky shots, making out in a Cadillac Coupe de Ville and waking up in jail with Jack Nicolson’s alcoholic lawyer from Easy Rider.

The opening track Refugee is a stormer, with lyrics like `Maybe you were tied up, kidnapped, held to ransom’ suggesting a brief relationship with a volatile woman could well be a good thing. It sets the tone of the album, with powerhouse Springsteen chords, booming drums and rousing choruses.

Next song Here Comes My Girl is arguably the stand-out track on the album. This is a song Dylan, Springsteen or McCartney would be proud to put their name to. The lyrics are classic references to escaping the drudgery of small town America, loving your girl and hoping for better days. The sound mixes country, blues and the best elements of 70s rock, with a ton of studio work headed by Jimmy Iovine.

Iovine had worked with Patti Smith, producing the epic single Because The Night and his passion for driving beats and blending strong keyboards with lyrical, rich guitar sounds shines through on Damn The Torpedoes.

Tracks like Don’t Do Me Like That, You Tell Me and Even The Losers help flesh out the album, give it some true durability, whilst Louisiana Rain is a pecan pie slice of country rock that neatly closes the record.

I’ll take some extra cream with that pie Casey Jo…


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