Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers’ “Damn The Torpedoes” confirms the myth of key third albums

Some bands manage to achieve fame with the first record – we already had a couple of such strong debuts in our series. Then there is the second part, which must wait and build your path to success. Ideally the third album. Like Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers and their “Damn The Torpedoes.”

The Heartbreakers are a typical example of a band based simply out of friendship, without any higher ambitions, although of course every musician wants his music to be played. The formation was formed in Gainesville, Florida, which in many ways influenced its typical sound, which stands out significantly from the mass of rock bands of the seventies and is easily recognizable: “In adolescence, we were all shaped by what was played on the radio,” recalls keyboardist Benmont Tench. “So we learned to perceive music and rhythm in a similar way.” Guitarist Mike Campbell adds: “Hailing from Florida, the Deep South, we were influenced by a combination of two styles: Southern blues and British rock. We were teenagers when The Beatles, Stones and other bands came along. We were thrilled and started with these types of music. understand how they are connected. “

The band made its nameless debut in 1976, getting a certain spin on the radio, but certainly not as much as a bunch of youngsters from Florida would have imagined. However, it was significantly more successful in Great Britain, but it was not possible to transport it home. The formation thus took on the role of forerunners for a wide range of stars for several years: “We found ourselves on a roster of bands playing all sorts of styles. That means we didn’t always play in front of an audience that would appreciate our music. It wasn’t an ideal situation. Then we decided not to start someone else’s concerts and just play for people who came exclusively to us, “ describes Tom Petty’s turning point in the group’s development. After a year, his debut reached the list of best-selling records and lasted there the following year, even at the time when his successor “You’re Gonna Get It” appeared there. The situation before the recording of the expected third album was complicated by a legal dispute with the MCA label. He was sold under it without consent, and the situation eventually threatened that the emerging album would be released by the label itself without the possibility of the band influencing it in any way. The sublabel MCA Backstreet Records, with which Petty signed a new contract, eventually gave the musicians a helping hand.

“Damn The Torpedoes” was created under the supervision of producer Jimmy Iovin, who replaced Denny Cordell, who accompanied the group in its early days. Iovine had two more successful third albums at the time, Bruce Springsteen’s “Born To Run” and Patti Smith’s “Easter”. He proved to be the ideal guide for The Heartbreakers in the big world. “I knew Tom had great material and I always trusted third albums,” recalls the producer. It is Iovine who brought the typical, powerful sound of the drums, which push the final collection forward and form a great rhythmic basis for the overall sound full of small guitar and keyboard beats. It is almost surprising that the record was created in perfect harmony inside the band, without friction and disputes. The musicians lived through the album when they did not record, tuned the lyrics, added ideas, literally ate and slept with her. And the result is known. “Damn The Torpedoes” is a balanced album that hardly misses anything. It is a representative example of the American branch of rock music, which is known as heartland rock, the powerful sound is combined with fragile strumming guitars, rock for halls is combined with the best of the songwriting tradition. The lyrics try to get to the point, they don’t just talk in the wind. At the same time, however, it does not lose hit and songs such as “Refugee”, “Here Comes My Girl”, “Don’t Do Me Like That” or “Even The Losers” are rightfully hits and appear on the radio to this day. They have not lost their validity even after four decades. The audience was enthusiastic, and the criticism did not spare praise. The record reached number two on the Billboard chart and remained in that position for seven weeks. But she failed to skip the number one at the time, “The Wall” by Pink Floyd. But what, both made it to Rolling Stone’s 500 Top Albums list. Undoubtedly it belongs there.

A detailed analysis of the songs and a behind-the-scenes look at “Damn The Torpedoes” offers another part of the Famous Albums series. On Friday, October 15, it was broadcast by ČT art. In a week, the series will continue with the story of the recording of “Anthem To Beauty” by the Grateful Dead.

A series of articles is created in cooperation with Czech Television.