Big and punchy with great energy, this copy really rocks. And rockin’ is what this album is all about — this is fun, high-energy music, but it takes a Hot Stamper copy like this to bring it life.
This is the classic first album, with two of their best songs: Breakdown and American Girl. It’s straight ahead rock and roll, with sonics to match.
The sound is a little spitty and transistory as a rule. But when you find a copy with Hot Stampers, the elements start to work together, and the good far outweighs the bad. If somebody tried to EQ this album differently, they’d probably end up taking away some of the Raw Rock Energy.
(By the way, American Girl never sounds all that great. That song needs more whomp! No copy had quite what we were looking on that song, but the Hot Stamper copies were at very least lively, musical, and not overly transistory.)
Breakdown is KILLER!
I mentioned above that Breakdown is one of the best songs on the album; fortunately, it’s also probably the best sounding song. On this great side one, it’s rich and full-bodied with real energy and presence. The overall sound is open and transparent, with more depth to the soundfield than we heard elsewhere. We were surprised how much these guys could sound like Steely Dan — just listen to the intro!
On many copies we played, Petty’s vocals were a bit lean for our tastes, and the guitars were a bit too clean — both of those elements really robbed the music of its power. Here, the voice is fuller, and you can really hear the meaty texture to the electric guitar; you can tell these guys were really rockin’ out! We didn’t hear sound this lively on any other side one we played, which made this our shootout champion at A+++.
This was the best side two of our entire shootout. There’s space and transparency here we just didn’t hear anywhere else! The bottom end is big and punchy, the top is nice and open and the whole thing has tons of rock energy. Folks, this is just about As Good As It Gets (AGAIG) for this side.
Rockin’ Around (With You)
The Wild One, Forever
Anything That’s Rock ‘N’ Roll
Strangered in the Night
Fooled Again (I Don’t Like It)
At times, the attitude and the sound override the songwriting, but that’s alright, since the slight songs (“Anything That’s Rock ‘N’ Roll,” to pick a random example) are still infused with spirit and an appealing surface. Petty & the Heartbreakers feel underground on this album, at least to the extent that power pop was underground in 1976… the highlights — “Rockin’ Around (With You),” “Hometown Blues,” “The Wild One, Forever,” the AOR staples “Breakdown” and “American Girl” — still illustrate how refreshing Petty & the Heartbreakers sounded in 1976.