Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers – Long After Dark

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  • You’ll find outstanding Double Plus (A++) sound or BETTER on this copy of the band’s fifth studio album
  • Rich and full-bodied with tight bass, and brimming with Petty’s unique brand of “meat and potatoes” rock and roll
  • You Got Lucky was the big hit on this album 4 Star Album from 1982
  • Rolling Stone raves “…overall, Long after Dark is Petty’s most accomplished record.”

Long After Dark boasts the monster rocker You Got Lucky and very good sound considering that the album was recorded in 1982, not an especially good year (or decade) to be recording rock music.

What the best sides of this Classic Rock album — even a Classic Rock album from as late as 1982 — have to offer is not hard to hear:

  • The biggest, most immediate staging in the largest acoustic space
  • The most Tubey Magic, without which you have almost nothing. CDs give you clean and clear. Only the best vintage vinyl pressings offer the kind of Tubey Magic that was on the tapes in 1982
  • Tight, note-like, rich, full-bodied bass, with the correct amount of weight down low
  • Natural tonality in the midrange — with all the keyboards, guitars and drums having the correct sound for this kind of recording
  • Transparency and resolution, critical to hearing into the three-dimensional studio space

No doubt there’s more but we hope that should do for now

Playing the record is the only way to hear all of the above, and playing the best pressings against a pile of other copies under rigorously controlled conditions is the only way to find a pressing that sounds as good as this one does.

What to Listen For (WTLF)

Energy and rock and roll rhythmic drive are of course paramount.

Many copies were brighter than ideal, which is nothing new for Petty’s body of work but nonetheless far from the sound we find most pleasing.

Some copies in our shootout were dark and small; we took serious points off for both of these shortcomings.

The climaxes and the bigger choruses of the songs should be as uncompressed and uncongested as possible to earn our higher grades. When the music gets loud it should stay tonally correct and undistorted, and not all copies can do that, not at the serious levels we like to play our records.

TRACK LISTING

Side One

A One Story Town 
You Got Lucky 
Deliver Me 
Change of Heart 
Finding Out

Side Two

We Stand a Chance 
Straight Into Darkness
The Same Old You 
Between Two Worlds
A Wasted Life

Rolling Stone 4 Star Review

Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers play a finely crafted brand of meat-and-potatoes rock. They shudder to a stop for the occasional ballad or showy guitar figure, but the next surging chorus is never far away. They’ve been honing that sound for five albums now, and Petty has gradually hoisted himself into the company of such masterful travelers of Route 66 as Seger and Springsteen.

No single thing about Long after Dark is startlingly great. Whatever your favorite Petty song is — be it “The Wild One, Forever” or “The Waiting” — you’re not likely to find it bettered here. But overall, Long after Dark is Petty’s most accomplished record.

After a few very precise probes into society’s darker doings (Hard Promises gave us a pair of characters who could easily share a jail cell with Springsteen’s Nebraska outlaws), Petty has narrowed his world to a one-on-one emotional connection and decided to cut a few simple truths into stone. He’s going about it with a trim, meticulously recorded group sound that makes every fistful of strings grabbed by Petty or Mike Campbell sound as near and natural as a fast river parted by rocks. His singing is bolder than ever, but full of nuance (a George Jones fan would be right at home for at least the first two lines of “You Got Lucky”).

Perhaps the reason there’s no one killer among these songs is the richly private nature of Long after Dark’s personality; it’s a suite of studies on the possibilities of amorous and brotherly love. The lover of “We Stand a Chance” is so stunned by these possibilities that he’s out of his head: “My whole world that is a fountain of flame.” This is the same flame that burned Hard Promises’ “Insider,” and that’s why, for Petty, talk of love is never cheap; long after dark, people succumb to the bitter torments of parting.

But parting, imminent and remembered, is the motif of most of the songs here. The strayed lovers of “A One Story Town” and “You Got Lucky,” the girl who becomes a “loaded gun” in “Change of Heart,” and the “flesh and bone” succubus of “Between Two Worlds” are all sending those they leave behind to Petty’s particularly bleak landscape of damnation. His notions are practically Victorian, but they make for compelling versifying.

Black sky, lonely streets, the hands of fate the singer wails for deliverance from — they’re all part of the “danger zone” where love ends. The quailing friend of “The Same Old You” is even afraid of the kind of healing, blasting rock that powers this album. But, Petty warns, nobody’s “bulletproof.” Part of Petty’s idea of salvation is a barbaric yawp. But against the lonely, dark road these songs look down, a barbaric yawp may be the best response.