In 1979, Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers’ lives would change forever with the release of their seminal album Damn the Torpedoes. Their third album, first on MCA Records, would be their breakout album and, some would argue, their masterpiece.
This chapter in the critically acclaimed Classic Albums series takes a look back on Damn the Torpedos, which hit No. 2 on the U.S. charts thanks to the major hits “Refugee;” “Here Comes My Girl;” “Even the Losers;” and “Don’t Do Me Like That.”
Damn the Torpedoes was an album being recorded by a fiery up and coming band trying to prove themselves while enlisting a young fiery producer Jimmy Iovine, who was also trying to prove himself. As you watch Petty, Iovine along with the Heartbreakers and engineer Shelly Yakus, who has a striking resemblence to Ron Jeremy, you can feel how much passion they have about this album, even 30 years later. Watching Iovine, Petty and Campbell in the recording studio at the mixing board fiddling with the knobs explaining the subtleties of this record is just something to behold.
They beauty in this release is the small details you normally wouldn’t know about such an iconic album. For instance when engineer Yakus came in, one of the first things he did was take drummer Stan Lynch out to buy a new drum set because the kit he was currently using was a “punk ass” set. It also should be noted that Lynch was either fired or quit during the recording of the record, but came back after a few weeks.
You also learn Damn the Torpedios almost didn’t come out due to contract disputes and law suites with the label. Furthermore, the song “Don’t Do Me Like That” was shelved and almost forgotten about until an assistant engineer spoke up during a nap that he liked that song. “Don’t Do Me Like That” would go on to be the first top 10 single for Petty and the Heartbreakers.
“Classic Albums: Damn the Torpedoes” is a great documentry of an album which will continue to stand the test of time. You learn a lot about Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers in this honest and humble account of one of America’s greatest rock ‘n’ roll bands.