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Rank your favorite Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers albums in order of preference!!!

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So I'm more than a year late to the party, but MJ2LD pointed this thread out to me - it looked like a fun topic.  Clearly we vary on our favorites, which shows the depth of Petty & The Heartbreakers genius.  I didn't include any of the live albums, Mudcrutch albums, or collections of songs previously on other albums.  I did include the last 3 discs of Playback as individual albums, hard to rank those, but I thought they were worthy of inclusion.     

  1. Damn The Torpedoes
  2. Hard Promises

  3. Long After Dark

  4. Southern Accents

  5. Let Me Up (I’ve Had Enough)

  6. Into The Great Wide Open

  7. Full Moon Fever

  8. You’re Gonna Get It

  9. Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers

  10. Hypnotic Eye

  11. Highway Companion (Special Edition)

  12. The Other Sides (Playback 4)

  13. The Last DJ

  14. Through The Cracks (Playback 5)

  15. Wildflowers

  16. Nobody’s Children (Playback 6)

  17. Echo

  18. Mojo

  19. She’s The One

These are very hard to rank, because not only are most of them fantastic albums, but each have different qualities.  For example ITGWO (the album, not the song) has some of Petty's best lyrics of any album, but it's otherwise not as outstanding as many other TPATH albums.  Hypnotic Eye sounds is very well played and recorded, and is sequenced very well also, but the songs themselves don't quite measure up to those on some other albums.  And so on.   

Also the Playback discs are hard to rank, because they have some of my favorite songs, along with some weak ones ("You Come Through"?  No thanks Lenny).  But sure as there's feathers on a chicken, I do actually love some of the humorous songs such "The Damage You've Done - Country Version".

And I realize that the Wildflowers album is beloved by many, and it must be a great album on its own terms.  I just never warmed up to it, despite repeated attempts over the years.   I do like the title track, Crawling Back to You, Time to Move On, It's Good to be King, and You Wreck Me - but that's only 1/3rd of the album (5 out of 15 songs), and even those songs don't match what I consider TPATH's highest standards (to be fair I do enjoy "You Wreck Me" live, a lot).  Yet the album must be very well crafted, given the praise it gets, including from very dedicated TPATH fans who love most of the albums.  

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4 hours ago, TheSameOldDrew said:

And I realize that the Wildflowers album is beloved by many, and it must be a great album on its own terms. 

It's not often I come across this opinion. Another link you say? Why sure...

https://www.mudcrutch.com/forum/index.php?/topic/14821-wildflowers-the-album-opinion/&tab=comments#comment-301077

 

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16 hours ago, MaryJanes2ndLastDance said:
21 hours ago, TheSameOldDrew said:

And I realize that the Wildflowers album is beloved by many, and it must be a great album on its own terms. 

It's not often I come across this opinion. Another link you say? Why sure...

https://www.mudcrutch.com/forum/index.php?/topic/14821-wildflowers-the-album-opinion/&tab=comments#comment-301077

Thanks for the link, I posted my own feelings on the WF album there. 

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On August 15, 2019 at 9:20 PM, TheSameOldDrew said:

Also the Playback discs are hard to rank, because they have some of my favorite songs, along with some weak ones ("You Come Through"?  No thanks Lenny).  But sure as there's feathers on a chicken, I do actually love some of the humorous songs such "The Damage You've Done - Country Version

Interesting choice to include them. For me, the treasure is in discs 5 & 6, so many good songs gathered together.  And it's funny how subjective music is, You Come Through is one of my favorite songs they ever did! 

cheers

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32 minutes ago, MaryJanes2ndLastDance said:

Interesting choice to include them. For me, the treasure is in discs 5 & 6, so many good songs gathered together.  And it's funny how subjective music is, You Come Through is one of my favorite songs they ever did! 

Playback Disc 4 has "Casa Dega" and "Trailer" (which I like much better than the Mudcrutch 2 version), it also has the humorous songs "Gator on the Lawn" and "Heartbreakers Beach Party", plus a nice acoustic live version of "King's Highway" from the 1993 Homecoming concert.  Plus some good cover versions, and a few more Petty originals.   

I agree though that Discs 5 & 6 also have some gems, for me including on Disc 5: "Keeping Me Alive", "Turning Point", "On The Street" and "Apartment Song" with Stevie Nicks (though it makes more sense without her) and the humorous "Moon Pie" and "The Damage You've Done - Country Version" (from which I took the "sure as there's feathers on a chicken" line).  And "Depot Street" is interesting for historical reasons, but the idea of TP doing a fake Jamaican accent - what were they thinking?  Come to think of it, Disc 5 rivals Disc 4 for me. 

Disc 6 highlights for me are "Waiting For Tonight" & "Ways To Be Wicked", plus "Up in Mississippi Tonight" is kind of interesting.  But "You Come Through" ruins it for me; I think of that as a Lenny Kravitz solo song more than a TPATH one.  Worst recording ever to have Petty's name on it, but Kravitz should get the blame, not TP.  Worse than "Zombie Zoo", worse than "Joe", worse than "The Wilbury Twist".  So we'll have to disagree on that song.           

An interesting challenge might be to take favorites from Discs 4, 5, & 6 to make one CD-length album.   Maybe at the time they could have made a single album out of the leftover and B-side songs, similar to The Who's original "Odds & Sods" (which was surprisingly strong on LP, but not as good in the extended CD version).   But I'm glad they gave us those full 3 CDs worth. 

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For me Disc 5 highlights are: On the Street/Depot Street/I Can't Fight It (what a fun pop-rock song)/keepin me alive/turnin' point and Moon Pie. I can take or leave the country version of Damage You've Done. 

Disc 6 highlights are: mind made up/ways to be wicked/can't get her out/waiiin' for tonight/travelin/wooden heart/gift to man/get me high/come on down to my house and you come through.

16 songs, pretty darn good. Never cared for Gator on the Lawn when I learned it was a true story---poor doggy. Tom's lyrical misstep there. I do like Heartbreakers Beach Party and they did play it a couple times in '99 of which there is a good recording out there. Fun song.

cheers

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1 hour ago, MaryJanes2ndLastDance said:

I can take or leave the country version of Damage You've Done. 

The country version of Damage You've Done isn't a great song on its own.  But as a spoof of the real "Damage You've Done", it's hilarious, more so than any of TP's other novelty/humorous songs, IMO.  TP completely changes the sentiment of the song, from feeling bad about his heart being in pieces, to wanting to "break even" monetarily.  It's absolutely brilliant, Tom doing a spoof on his own serious song, before it's even been released.  Plus it's a bit of a spoof on country songs themselves.  But to fully enjoy the country version, listeners have to have the real version of that song firmly in their minds.

Great comments on the rest; I'd forgotten about certain songs like "Come On Down To My House".  "Wooden Heart" and some of those others don't appeal to me that much, so for me Disc 6 is still the weakest of those three.  But it would be interesting to get the forum views of those three discs some time (probably already been done).  

By the way thanks for those other links, on the "top 10 live recordings" topic; I'll respond to a few of those eventually. 

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On 8/16/2019 at 3:20 AM, TheSameOldDrew said:

Hypnotic Eye sounds is very well played and recorded, and is sequenced very well also, but the songs themselves don't quite measure up to those on some other albums.  And so on.

I said it once, I said it many times, and I'll say it again: There are only three good songs on HE (American Dream Plan B, Fault Lines and Shadow People). The rest is a bland bluesrock blur.

On 8/16/2019 at 3:20 AM, TheSameOldDrew said:

And I realize that the Wildflowers album is beloved by many, and it must be a great album on its own terms.

It is, and there's not a bad song on Wildflowers. ūüėČ Also something I might have gone out of my way in the past to emphazise...

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Yes, you are way out of your ways on this, the both of you. :D

44 minutes ago, TwoGunslingers said:

ThÔĽŅeÔĽŅ rest is a bland bluesrock blur.

Actually, I've come to degrade HE a bit myself over the last few months. But how exactly do you mean that songs like Red River, All You Can Carry, Sins of My Youth is "bland bluesrock blur"? 

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I think the album is still great, from the acoustic breakdown in American Dream Plan B, the delicate almost waltzing Full Grown Boy, the defiance of All You Can Carry and the underrated Power Drunk with its I don't know what to call it, the 'B' section of the song around 2:25 and during the outro that contrasts with the main riff. I'll stop there before I go on about each track all over again!

For me, each song has its own character, riff/chord progression with lyrics that makes them stand out and frankly, its a record with much needed energy after Echo and the Last Dj. They could've just gone "elder statesman" of rock at that point in their career, more swingings and have loves will travel but they went with an all out rock-n-roll record. 

6 hours ago, TwoGunslingers said:

bluesrock blur

I'd say Burnt Out Town, Power Drunk and Shadow People lean most towards bluesrock but again, I think each are distinctive though Burnt Out Town is probably the most generic and feels more in common with Mojo than its peers on this album. It's too bad Forgotten Man leans so heavily on Bo Diddley (?) as I like the rollicking tempo and it has some sharp lyrics. Probably Burnt Out Town and Forgotten Man are the weakest and most derivative of the bunch. However, their placement on the album buoys them and both are so short and have enough fun energy that while weak in relation to the other tracks, are still pretty entertaining.

My feelings on Shadow People vary depending on my mood but I think it was the right number to end the album on. It's interesting how different everyone's taste is, to me Echo and Last Dj are more of a bland paste. HE has an eclectic mix of rock-n-roll songs, the musically experimental Full Grown Boy and even an attempt at the epic with Shadow People. And as if that wasn't enough, it all wraps up with a sweet acoustic coda by Tom. Strange too, the last TPATH album ends with Tom alone, just his plaintive voice and guitar, yet singing optimistically.

I don't recall if you saw them on that tour Two Gunslingers, but if so, at least you got two of the three songs you like played...!

cheers

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3 hours ago, Mr Timba said:

Red River is a very good song.

Red River has quite the groove to it and I think it fits in great behind Fault Lines. I don't recall but was it someone on here who said that it could've been a Wildflowers song? I think it could've fit on the album easily but am glad it's on HE.

cheers

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6 hours ago, Shelter said:

But how exactly do you mean that songs like Red River, All You Can Carry, Sins of My Youth is "bland bluesrock blur"? 

Absolutely!  Those are terrific songs.  The first two you mentioned are my two favorites on the album.

It's clear that "Wildflowers" is a polarizing album.  There's no right or wrong on whether it's great from start to finish, or whether it's better than "Hypnotic Eye".  Each of those albums has it's own merits, very strong merits to many people.  I've already ranked those and I put HE well above WF.  Yet I realize that most here probably put WF above HE, and many even put WF in first place.  That's fine but it's still a matter of personal taste, and/or your own life's situation when you first heard that album, etc.    

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1 hour ago, TheSameOldDrew said:

Absolutely!  Those are terrific songs.

Hear! Hear!

1 hour ago, TheSameOldDrew said:

There's no right or wrong on whether it's great from start to finish, or whether it's better than "Hypnotic Eye".  Each of those albums has it's own merits, very strong merits to many people.

Yes and it's the discussion of those differences that are interesting.

cheers

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22 hours ago, Shelter said:

Yes, you are way out of your ways on this, the both of you. :D

Actually, I've come to degrade HE a bit myself over the last few months. But how exactly do you mean that songs like Red River, All You Can Carry, Sins of My Youth is "bland bluesrock blur"? 

Well, I was being polemic and teasing y'all a bit.

There are more exceptions of course, not everything on HE is bluesrock, but it leans a little too much towards that for my taste (don't get me wrong, I enjoy bluesrock myself at times). And it's not the only issue I have with the album. I'd prefer Wildflowers anytime.

13 hours ago, MaryJanes2ndLastDance said:

Hear! Hear!

Yes and it's the discussion of those differences that are interesting.

cheers

That's exactly it. And I appreciate it like crazy that I can write something like I did above and don't get roasted here. It's a very tolerant and sophisticated forum, the Farm is. So thanks everybody. And sorry for going off topic once again...

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59 minutes ago, TwoGunslingers said:

And sorry for going off topic once again...

Nah, don't worry about it. It's one big bland blur anyway, isn't it. 

Beside I think in this one we are still pretty spot on, ranking albums.. or raking them, are we..

Speaking of which, reading through this thread again, I realize that I may be one of few people who would (I would, but aparently haven't) list both Wildflowers and Hypnotic Eye kinda middle of the road. (Now both albums have peaked in my top five for periods - especially from certain sound and/or production angles I regard them quite high; the crisp, clear and organic sounding production on Wildflowers is to me among their finest, and the arrangements and grit on a lot of Hypnotic Eye I find very appealing). As "average" on my list - them being Petty albums and all - they are still both dear to me. And very interesting and key to the TP legend, no doubt. Nevertheless, as album-albums (sequence, lenght, vibe and so on) and in terms of sheer total material strength, to me they are about as far from my top favorites as they are from my bottom shrugs. Seems like fans in general have very strong opinions one way or the other about these albums, though.. Very polarizing, yes. Which I find fascinating in itself.

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3 hours ago, TwoGunslingers said:

Well, I was being polemic and teasing y'all a bit.

Ha ha! For me, FMF and HE are at the top not just because they have such good songs but the albums tracklisting flows; after Zombie Zoo one can go right back into Free Fallin' and after Shadow People to American Dream Plan B and start all over again. DTT and Long After Dark are just a little below them and just a little below them are ITGWO and She's The One. After that it's a generally shifting jumble. When it comes to the moodier side of Tom's music I think I lean towards more Mojo than WF and more WF than Echo.

But morose or introspective or just plain sad songs by Tom generally don't work for me. Or I really have to be in the mood for the dreariness of most Echo tracks. Don't Fade On Me is particularly grim yet the instrumentation, lyrics and brevity make it powerful, whereas a lot of Echo is musically dull or bland and the lyrics just depressing, and while there's room for sad lyrics, the combination on that album, let alone its length make it a slog.

Like Drew noted in a different topic, there's depth to Let Me Up and a lot going on in each track. I think the Last Dj benefited at first anyway,  coming on the heels of Echo; any kind of increased tempo and energy felt very welcome, but over time a lot of the flaws of the record stand out and a bit of a faster tempo can't disguise what I think of as some bland songwriting.

Take Joe for instance, the music is quite harsh but in a grating way so I don't even like hearing it; while maybe that was the intent, pairing harsh music with bitter, sharp lyrics the result is a track I rarely listen to because the music is just unpleasant, too bright and sharp and terrible. Brittle even. Some of Lost Children feels like a rehashed riff from Mary jane though the mellower parts of that number somewhat salvage the tune. I sort of like When A Kid goes bad but outside of some soloing live and that it has energy compared to the rest o the album, taken on its own the song is just middle of the road. It seems better when compared to The man who loves women or have love will travel but only because those are at the bottom of the barrel.

Mojo, when it works, offers a lot of moodiness within a lot of heavy grooving by the band. Maybe I'd like Joe more if it had been recorded with more of a Mojo sound, but then gain, perhaps thechords tehy use at the intro would grate regardless of how it was recorded. But I think the "blues" record evokes more interesting feelings with some atypically longer songs for the band, whereas Echo, Last Dj are largely a bland mess. Even the defiance of the Dj's title track is muted by the acoustics and the beat, it felt like it should've had more in common with Black Leather Woman in terms of attitude than how it ended up. 

2 hours ago, Shelter said:

Seems like fans in general have very strong opinions one way or the other about these albums, though.. Very polarizing, yes. Which I find fascinating in itself.

I guess in retrospect I can see why HE seemed to garner extreme responses, as the band went all in on making a rock-n-roll record, not a blues experiment or a concept record or focusing on more moody or sad emotional moments but something that recalls the harder edge (for TPATH anyway, no one's going to mistake them for Queens of the Stone Age or the Ramones---and for some that's a relief) of their earlier albums. If per interviews Tom viewed Long After Dark as going backwards a bit or just staying in place, then HE was a return to that style of album but with years of experience. It could've been terrible, could've been an album worth of Joes but not only do they rock in different ways, American Dream Plan B having a heavy stomp while Fault Line grooves along like a 60s spy movie, but they offer up Full Grown Boy which is something new for them in terms of music, beat, lightness. 

But while HE is more of a rock album than they'd released in years, it's also through the current mode of the band, so there isn't that chamber music feel and Benmont is far from prominent and some songs, like Power Drunk and Sins of My Youth, for me anyway, needed a bit of time to realize just how good they are. If someone's already disappointed with the record I could see them not giving them a chance; at the same time, there's just that un-quantifiable reason for why one likes things or doesn't and Two Gunslingers could listen to HE fifty times in a row (but why torture the lad...!) and still feel the same as he does now.

The album rocks with the heaviness of Mojo and the stomp of Steve's drumming, which is different from Long After Dark but the songwriting and energy work, the album both rocking and rolling, yet with some heavy groove of the later albums, each song distinctive and flowing well from one to the other.

cheers

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2 hours ago, MaryJanes2ndLastDance said:

If per interviews TomÔĽŅÔĽŅÔĽŅÔĽŅÔĽŅÔĽŅ viewed Long After Dark as going backwarÔĽŅds a ÔĽŅbitÔĽŅ ÔĽŅoÔĽŅr ÔĽŅÔĽŅjust staying in ÔĽŅÔĽŅÔĽŅplaceÔĽŅ,

Personally, I never saw much credit to such statements. I'm sure by LAD sessions Tom had just about had it with the Iovine world. I can buy that. But in terms of material, sound, vision and vibe LAD is clearly moving ahead from HP. Where HP is this fairly organic, daytime sounding, if you like, rather rural or small town in character, I think with LAD they created something much darker,  nocturnal, claustrophobic and slightly urban. There are minor overlap perhaps, but generally, to my mind any idea of repetition there would come from the recording experience, rather than from the material character or end result.

 

2 hours ago, MaryJanes2ndLastDance said:

ÔĽŅÔĽŅÔĽŅÔĽŅÔĽŅÔĽŅÔĽŅÔĽŅÔĽŅÔĽŅthenÔĽŅ HE was a return to thÔĽŅat styleÔĽŅÔĽŅ ofÔĽŅ album

And I don't see much credit to that comparison either. Sorry. :) So HE is slightly less "mellow" than some of it's predecessors. It's also shorter. Two qualities that may evoke the early 80s (or even the 70s, as the band themselves felt about it, due to Tom's vocal approach among other things), but it's not a really strong case at that, as I hear it. If anything, some of HE's heavier moments feel like revisiting Mojo (speaking of "staying in place") while other rather typical catchy Pettyisms brings classic TP songwriting of later 80s or early 90s to mind.

Listening to HE, to me, brings two questions to mind. Where is Ben?? Where are the harmony vocals?? Two things they made good use of, to the greatest effect, in the 70s and 80s, by the way.

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There are a lot of different opinions in the matter of ranking albums! I like it!

I'm surprised about Echo's some low ranks. It is a high range album in my opinion. Maybe a 10 song album it would be a better album. Cut off some "rocking numbers" and cut off the acoustic numbers, putting the focus only on the darknest numbers and on the "twilight zone" numbers (in terms of sound and in terms of lyrics). 

There are three masterpieces on Echo. In my opinion, of course! "Rhino Skin" is one of a kind, and it is not a depressing song. "Room at the top". It is a really strong and shoking song. The live performances were amazing. "One more day, one more night" is a gem. A great performance, the vocals, the band. The harmony vocals are wonderful, and apart from the harmonies... That second vocal singing some verses... "Soon I'll be far away from here". And this is the end of the album. A shoking end.

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1 hour ago, Mr Timba said:

That second vocal singing some vÔĽŅerses... "Soon I'll be far away from here".

I'm curious as to what you mean by this. I always found the harmonies on this album quite fascinating. Especially since it seems to me they are among the the most prominent aspects of whatever "remaster" work that has been done to Echo over the years.

I never heard the original LP, mind you, but I always found the original CD to be a typical claustrophobically compressed casualty of the "loudness wars". (Discussed elsewhere.) In a way those cramped up, or stained qualities to the sound - not least the vocals, then - highlights the general mood of the album, but somehow I still like it better when it's fuller and more dynamic. To my ears even the latest compressed online streamed version of the album sounds a lot better than the original CD. (An odd occurance in itself.. But, I digress..)

About those harmonies.. OMD,OMN seems to me to have at least three vocal tracks, right. Lead vocals by Tom, some high harmonies (a bit buried in the mix, probably Howie or Scott?) and between them, there's what you refer to, I suppose, as "second vocal" (which is effectively Tom singing harmony with himself). I suppose you mean that this track is added on to some parts of the song, since it's not like that other, sligtly different in pitch, TP voice ever takes over the lead vocals for "some verses". To me it's sounds like it's the same lead vocal track straight through?

Another interesting detail here: I always thought it seemed like the high harmonies on that song had vocoder filter on them. Especially noticeble early on in the song, before the music starts filling up the frequencies. If so, that may be a first. (There are of course later examples when Tom is using filters on his vocals) 

That song is a great album closer, for sure!

 

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