Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers’ Damn the Torpedoes showed late rocker in peak form

By Jason Klaiber

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To conclude a week that marked the untimely and bewilderingly reported passing of Tom Petty, one of rock ‘n’ roll’s preeminent songwriters whose work even resonated with those belonging to generations well beyond his own, it only feels natural to craft a write-up of his band’s third—and, by most accounts, best—album: 1979’s Damn the Torpedoes.

The record bursts out of the starting gates with the sweltering classic “Refugee,” a trademark Heartbreakers assemblage of hard-hitting instrumental punches and swagger-laden vocals. It’s a song that never gets old and still sounds just as remarkably fresh nearly four decades after its recording.

“Here Comes My Girl” effortlessly builds from an eerie spoken word delivery to a bursting-at-the-seams bridge and culminates in the most tender of choruses, all within its first minute.

Tunes like “Even the Losers,” with its point of inspiration that “even the losers get lucky sometimes,” as well as “Shadow of a Doubt (Complex Kid)” share space between infectious melodies and stories detailing small but uplifting glimmers of hope.

There’s no denying the catchiness behind Top 10-charting hit and fan favorite “Don’t Do Me Like That,” a track abounding with attitude that should make anyone in earshot spring with joyfulness.

Of the tracks that make up the rest of the album, “You Tell Me” is the most deserving of praise, its tone and lyrical dialogue taking up an excellent robust quality.

Along with the group’s diamond-selling greatest hits package from 1993, this record is a must-have for anyone with a hankering for rock music conjoined with keen pop sensibilities. Its nine songs clocking in at just under 40 minutes in runtime, the still stylish Damn the Torpedoes manages to exemplify everything that brought enduring fandom to Tom Petty and the band that stuck beside him until the very end.


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