Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers
Damn The Torpedoes


4.0
excellent

Review

by danielsfrebirth USER (27 Reviews)
August 23rd, 2011 | 26 replies


Release Date: 1979 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Damn The Torpedoes could be the least pretentious album in rock history. There is no ridiculous excess; there is no artsy minimalism. Its only purpose is to be a solid, fun rock n’ roll album, and in that, it succeeds marvellously.

Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers’ Damn the Torpedoes isn’t the best rock album of all time. It’s not the best album of 1979, a year that gave us The Wall, London Calling, Broken English, and Unknown Pleasures. Heck, it’s not even the best album of Tom Petty’s career (see Wildflowers). Yet in the sense of it being a "rock n' roll" album, few albums come close to it. It could be the least pretentious album in rock history, simply because it doesn’t try to be high art, satisfy critical intentions, rebel against anything, or conform to a set movement. There is no ridiculous excess; there is no artsy minimalism. Its only purpose is to be a solid, fun rock n’ roll album, and in that, it succeeds marvellously.

It surprises me when the band is categorized as “new wave.” Even early singles like “American Girl,” which is totally new wave, have more in common with the Byrds, the Stones, or other classic rockers from the previous decade. The Heartbreakers obviously shot for the arenas and the majors, and they weren’t really trying to rebel against anything. Yet at the same time, there is some truth in that categorization. In a pigeonhole, they were heartland rock like Springsteen or Mellencamp, but they weren’t interested in a massive, elaborate sound. They were just trying to rock out, and by doing so, they unwittingly provided one of the most effective antidotes to the very music punk was trying to usurp.

Nothing epitomizes this more than the work of guitarist Mike Campbell. While Eddie Van Halen is busy playing one-hundred-and-twenty-eighth-note runs and Johnny Ramone is flat-out refusing to reserve any time for himself, Campbell barely plays more than three notes per solo, sometimes staying on the same one for extended periods of time. It’s no gimmick--it’s the way he does it. He’s also pretty much the only person who solos. Keyboardist Benmont Tench, one of the best ivory-ticklers I’ve ever heard, is content to hum in the background, adding texture that’s barely noticeable but key to the music. Petty himself occasionally plays a harmonica solo, but his name is already in the band name and he’s doing all the singing anyway, so he doesn’t need to shine any more than he already does. As for the rhythm section, they’re so tasteful it’s ridiculous.

And the songs--the songs! There’s not a single filler track on the whole album. Even “Don’t Do Me Like That,” which basically repeats the same verse and chorus over and over again for just shy of three minutes, feels like an honest and complete effort. The great tunes whiz by. “Refugee” into “Here Comes My Girl” into “Even the Losers” into “Shadow of a Doubt”--all either massive hits, pop gems, or both. If the second half of the album was as good as the first, this album could rank in the same caliber as the best work by the aforementioned Stones. It’s not, but it comes pretty close.

Well, here I am, a seventeen-year-old MF Doom fan prattling on about classic rock and “real rock n’ roll” and those gol-danged punk rockers. To me, no statement is more offensive than the claim that there is “real rock n’ roll” and that bands like Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers are it, and I take pleasure in pouncing upon sixties-seventies-eighties snobs. But as for “rock n’ roll” and what the term has come to denote--music that, if not necessarily high quality, is simple, unpretentious, fun to make, and fun to listen to--nothing comes close to satisfying than Damn the Torpedos.



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user ratings (248)
4.1
excellent

Comments:Add a Comment 
Megadeth
August 23rd 2011


934 Comments


rock on brother

Trebor.
Emeritus
August 23rd 2011


59810 Comments


Free Fallin?

BigHans
August 23rd 2011


30959 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

I WAS TALKIN WITH A FRIEND OF MINE SAID A WOMAN HAD HURT HIS PRIDE

omnipanzer
August 23rd 2011


21827 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Correct rating and great review. Maybe it's just me but that closing seems a little messy. POS sir.

MUNGOLOID
August 24th 2011


4551 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

"Free Fallin?"



another album.

KILL
November 29th 2012


81580 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

rock1n

WilhelmBlack
November 26th 2015


603 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Free Ballin' is off of Full Moon Fever.

theBoneyKing
December 13th 2016


24378 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Some undeniably classic tunes on this one.

I remember going on a long car drive a few years ago and my father playing this several times on the way - perfect road trip album.

onionbubs
October 2nd 2017


20649 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

i wish id listened to this in full before, although looking at the tracklist I recognize at least half of it

rabidfish
April 25th 2018


8687 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

this must be the most perfect 3.5 album ever. It's just so... Good. Like, meat and potatoes, mama's chicken soup, vanilla ice cream good. It's just so likeable and easy to get into, damn.





SitarHero
April 26th 2019


14697 Comments


It's pretty amazing. No matter what decade Tom Petty rocked in he didn't sound out of place despite also never sounding like anything except Tom Petty.

protokute
February 6th 2020


2576 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

don't know why it took so long for me to jam this, really awesome stuff here!



The debut is pretty fine, but this one improved on it in every possible way, the guitar melodies are more interesting, intense and upfront, vocal harmonies are on point, already a classic for me.

Sunnyvale
Staff Reviewer
February 6th 2020


5836 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Hell yeah, album rules. RIP Tom Petty

BigHans
February 6th 2020


30959 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Shadow of a Doubt is one of his most underrated songs.

Sunnyvale
Staff Reviewer
February 6th 2020


5836 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

YEAH SHE ALWAYSSS LIKES TO LEAVE ME WITH A SHADOWWW OF A DOUBTTTT

ShadowRemains
August 7th 2020


27724 Comments


refugee is just a stone cold classic

Sunnyvale
Staff Reviewer
August 8th 2020


5836 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Definitely a legend, RIP

zakalwe
August 8th 2020


38787 Comments


Damn the Torpedos hooray for the launching mechanism

xfearbefore
December 8th 2020


2036 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Petty was an underrated vocalist. He just kills it on the Refugee chorus.

FR33L0RD
March 3rd 2022


6401 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Agreed & agreed



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