- You’ll find outstanding Double Plus (A++) sound from first note to last on this superb copy of the Tom and the band’s debut album – exceptionally quiet vinyl too
- The sound is present and punchy with excellent bass, freedom from grain and real rockin’ energy
- 4 1/2 stars: “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.”
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. This is not purely an audiophile album. 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.
This vintage Shelter pressing has the kind of Tubey Magical Midrange that modern records can barely BEGIN to reproduce. Folks, that sound is gone and it sure isn’t showing signs of coming back. If you love hearing INTO a recording, actually being able to “see” the performers, and feeling as if you are sitting in the studio with the band, this is the record for you. It’s what vintage all analog recordings are known for — this sound.
If you exclusively play modern repressings of vintage recordings, I can say without fear of contradiction that you have never heard this kind of sound on vinyl. Old records have it — not often, and certainly not always — but maybe one out of a hundred new records do, and those are some pretty long odds.
What the Best Sides of Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers’ Debut 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 1976
- Tight, note-like, rich, full-bodied bass, with the correct amount of weight down low
- Natural tonality in the midrange — with all the instruments having the correct timbre
- 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 qualities we discuss 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 We’re Listening For on Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers
- Energy for starters. What could be more important than the life of the music?
- Then: presence and immediacy. The vocals aren’t “back there” somewhere, lost in the mix. They’re front and center where any recording engineer worth his salt would put them.
- The Big Sound comes next — wall to wall, lots of depth, huge space, three-dimensionality, all that sort of thing.
- Then transient information — fast, clear, sharp attacks, not the smear and thickness so common to these LPs.
- Tight punchy bass — which ties in with good transient information, also the issue of frequency extension further down.
- Next: transparency — the quality that allows you to hear deep into the soundfield, showing you the space and air around all the instruments.
- Extend the top and bottom and voila, you have The Real Thing — an honest to goodness Hot Stamper.
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)
AMG 4 1/2 Star Review
At the time Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers’ debut was released in 1976, they were fresh enough to almost be considered punk. They weren’t as reckless or visionary as the Ramones, but they shared a similar love for pure ’60s rock and, for the Heartbreakers, that meant embracing the Byrds as much as the Stones. And that’s pretty much what this album is — tuneful jangle balanced by a tough garage swagger.
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.