Tom Petty / Damn The Torpedoes

More Tom Petty

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  • This outstanding hard rockin’ pressing boasts solid Double Plus (A++) sound from first note to last – exceptionally quiet vinyl too
  • Credit for the tremendous presence and energy of the recording goes to the brilliant engineer Shelly Yakus
  • Damn the Torpedoes is, simply put, the best sounding Tom Petty album we have ever played
  • Tons of hits too: Refugee, Here Comes My Girl, and my favorite of the bunch, Don’t Do Me Like That
  • 5 stars: “Few mainstream rock albums of the late ’70s and early ’80s were quite as strong as this, and it still stands as one of the great records of the album rock era.”

Credit must obviously go to the man behind the console, SHELLY YAKUS, someone who we freely admit, now with a sense of embarrassment, has never been one of our favorite engineers. After hearing a White Hot Stamper pressing of Damn the Torpedoes and a killer copy of Animal Notes we realize that we have been seriously underestimating the man.

If your Damn the Torpedoes doesn’t sound good (and it probably doesn’t), you sure can’t blame him – the master tape is mind-boggling in its size, weight, power and sheer rock n’ roll energy.

What the Best Sides of Damn The Torpedoes 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 1979
  • 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.

One Tough Album (To Find AND To Play)

Not only is it hard to find great copies of this album, it ain’t easy to play ’em either. You’re going to need a hi-res, super low distortion front end with careful adjustment of your arm in every area — VTA, tracking weight, azimuth and anti-skate — in order to play this album properly. If you’ve got the goods you’re gonna love the way this copy sounds. Play it with a budget cart / table / arm and you’re likely to hear a great deal less magic than we did.

Our 2014 Hot Stamper copy had the kind of sound we never expected to hear on Damn The Torpedoes, an album that’s typically bright, thin, pinched and transistory – radio friendly but not especially audiophile friendly.

Well folks, all that’s changed, and by “all” I don’t necessarily mean all to include the records themselves. This may very well be a record that sounded gritty and pinched before it was cleaned. And our stereo has come a long way in the last five or ten years, as I hope yours has too.

One sign that you’re making progress in this hobby is that at least some of the records you’ve played recently, records that had never sounded especially good before, may now be sounding very good indeed. In our case Damn the Torpedoes is one of those records. It’s the best sounding Tom Petty album we have ever played.

What We’re Listening For on Damn The Torpedoes

  • 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.

Good News for Petty Fans

His first two albums are also classics, IMHO, and we’ve done Hot Stamper shootouts for both. You’re Gonna Get It, his second release, is my personal favorite. After “Damn” I kind of gave up on him as an album artist: a few tracks here and there sparkle but mostly what I hear is variations of his earlier and better material, with brighter and brighter, thinner and thinner sound.

TRACK LISTING

Side One

Refuge
Here Comes My Girl
Even the Losers
Shadow of a Doubt (A Complex Kid)
Century City

Side Two

Don’t Do Me Like That
You Tell Me
What Are You Doin’ in My Life?
Louisiana Rain

AMG 5 Star Rave Review

… there are purpose and passion behind the performances that makes Damn the Torpedoes an invigorating listen all the same. Few mainstream rock albums of the late ’70s and early ’80s were quite as strong as this, and it still stands as one of the great records of the album rock era.

 

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