Friday, October 20, 2017

Gainesville Sage Shades the Depraved Mendacious

It rained all night and the air has been laundered harder than mobsters scrub Lufthansa heist money -- by the marine layer we all rely upon for such things -- thus making the smoky times a mere memory. Let's celebrate the birthday of a recently departed icon, shall we?
When today's honoree passed from heart failure a few weeks back, I knew I'd instantly have a Facebook feed full of aggrieved heartbrokens on me, asking for me to deliver some crown jewels. Could I disappoint them?
But back to today's hero. He burst upon the scene in 1976/77, and was taken for one of the Punks... and at first he stiffed in America. Fortunately the Brits lost their minds over him pretty much as soon as his first record fell off the boat.
By his second LP he'd begun to have hits with songs that would become essential standards of Rock. Then the trouble started.
As so many aspiring music folk have done, he had earlier signed a repressive contract that robbed him of his publishing royalties. Once he began to have success and it became an issue, and he found that he would not be allowed out of the contract, he responded by filing for bankruptcy.
This sent a seismic shock wave through a music industry terrified by the precedent such a thing might set, and the labels -- not just his, but ALL of them!!!! -- flat out conspired to kill his next record and destroy his burgeoning career.
This matter spent most of 1979 and the first part of 1980 in court, and he eventually won, freeing himself from his contract and setting himself on a course of antagonism towards the suits that would only get more intense.
For me, the utmost testimony to the talent of Tom Petty was that during this period of numbing upheaval and peril, he managed to make what was up to then his biggest and most popular album. Appropriately titled Damn the Torpedoes, it would scale the charts and put him in a powerful position he utilized until the day he died.
By this point his songs were so ubiquitous that you'd turn on FM radio in 1980 and flip across the dial through five or six different hit tunes of his. But things were about to get even hotter for him, and he was set for an even more epic clash with the cold, grey men on the fourteenth floor at the record company.
It was during this era that the music business had fallen into a rut that led to the advent of the compact disc and their bright idea to sell you all the LPs you had amassed all over again. But with the CD still a few years away from commercial reliability, they had the bright idea of "superstar pricing," meaning the biggest selling acts' records would be raised, across all labels and outlets, from the then-standard $8.98 to $9.98.
Of course, the plan was to raise the price of their newest superstar's newest offering, entitled Hard Promises. What they didn't count on was a big old middle finger from Petty himself, who refused to deliver the platter unless it sold for the customary $8.98.
Once again, the colluding suits relented and the LP came out at the lower price, of course shattering the chart positions of his previous ones and scoring him his first hit on the just-launched MTV. After that he only got bigger and badder, with hit after hit through the '80s and into the 1990s. The retribution he suffered for his stance -- believe it or not, the fuckers tried to burn his house down with he and his family inside it in 1987 -- did little to deter him.
The rest is well-worn history. Tours with Bob Dylan and the advent of the ultimate supergroup, The Traveling Wilburys. More massive hits and tours, and eventual induction into the R'n'R Hall of Fame. Back in 1989, he ran up against his label again, who thought his new choice for a single was too vulnerable and soft for his image. He again insisted and ended up with Free Fallin', arguably his signature song and certainly among his most universally beloved compositions.
Into the Nineties he continued to produce smash hits and vital music, and continued to record and tour -- both with his trusty band The Heartbreakers and a reconstituted version of his original group, Mudcrutch -- up until the time he so suddenly left this realm several weeks back.
He'd have been 67 today, and to properly celebrate the occasion I have busted out seven full GB of unreleased stuff into the cloud for your enjoyment and remembrance. There's two concert videos from 1978 and 1982 that were captured for European TV and are presented here on DVDs made from rebroadcasts, and two stunningly-recorded shows taped (I think) for Westwood One radio in the Eighties that are sourced from pre-FM CDs and sound totally indistinguishable from official live albums.
Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers
In Concert
1978-1989

I.
Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers
"The Old Grey Whistle Test"
BBC Televison Theatre 
London, UK
6.8.1978

01 Queensryche ad & Glenn Tillbrook intro
02 Anything That’s Rock and Roll
03 Fooled Again
04 I Need to Know
05 Breakdown
06 Listen to Her Heart
07 You’re Gonna Get It
08 American Girl
09 Strangered In the Night
10 Shout

Total time: 56:41

Tom Petty - vocals & guitar 
Mike Campbell - guitar 
Benmont Tench - keyboards & vocals 
Ron Blair - bass & vocals 
Stan Lynch - drums & vocals

NTSC DVD of a digital capture of a 1990s VH1 Classic "Crown Jewels" satellite rebroadcast
3.52 GB here

II.
Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers
"RockPop In Concert"
Westfalenhalle
Dortmund, Germany
12.19.1982

01 Intro/You Got Lucky
02 Change of Heart
03 Straight Into Darkness
04 Breakdown
05 Refugee
06 Shout

Total time: 36:56

Tom Petty - vocals, guitar & harmonica
Mike Campbell - guitar
Benmont Tench - keyboards & vocals
Howie Epstein - bass & vocals
Stan Lynch - drums & vocals

PAL DVD of a HiFi VHS capture from German TV, seemingly with PCM sound
2.41 GB here

III.
Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers
Civic Coliseum
Jacksonville, FL
7.24.1987

01 Bye Bye Johnny
02 Breakdown
03 Kings Road
04 The Waiting
05 Don't Come Around Here No More
06 For What It's Worth
07 The Ballad Of Easy Rider
08 The Image of Me
09 Here Comes My Girl
10 Should I Stay Or Should I Go?
11 You Can't Judge a Book By Its Cover
12 Anyway You Want It
13 Runaway Trains
14 Refugee

Total time: 1:10:37

Tom Petty - guitar & vocals
Howie Epstein - bass & vocals
Benmont Tench - keyboards, guitar & vocals
Stan Lynch - drums
Mike Campbell - guitar & vocals

preFM CD, bootlegged as "Anyway You Want It!" on the infamous Swingin' Pig label in 1993
524 MB FLAC here

IV.
Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers
Dean Smith Center
Chapel Hill, NC
9.13.1989

01 Bye Bye Johnny
02 The Damage You've Done
03 Breakdown
04 Free Fallin'
05 The Waiting
06 Benmont's Boogie
07 Don't Come Around Here No More
08 Southern Accents
09 Even the Losers
10 Listen to Her Heart
11 A Face In the Crowd
12 Something Big
13 I Won't Back Down
14 I Need to Know
15 Refugee
16 Running Down a Dream

Total time: 1:12:32

Tom Petty - guitar & vocals
Howie Epstein - bass & vocals
Benmont Tench - keyboards, guitar & vocals
Stan Lynch - drums
Mike Campbell - guitar & vocals

pre-FM CD, bootlegged as "Southern Choice" in 1991 on the Beech Marten label with the wrong date and venue info
505 MB FLAC here
That's a whole lotta Heartbreakers, but I put them up separately so's not to overwhelm anyone with too much awesomeness... if you wish to know the full TP story, I'd suggest watching the four-hour mega-documentary on the subject, which is on Netflix and is called Runnin' Down a Dream
I shall return in several days to mark the fourth anniversary of this silly page, but until I do please feel free to let all or several or one of these concerts fill your weekend and future days with good memories of this most adored iconoclast, born this day in 1950 and whom recently sailed Into the Great Wide Open.--J.
10.20.1950 - 10.2.2017