'Damn The Torpedoes', the third album by Tom Petty And The Heartbreakers, is often called a quantum leap in the band's development. More accurately, the disc nudged up Petty a notch, from a promising songwriter to one of the best. When the album came out in 1979, he'd already cemented his Dylan-leaning and Byrds-loving sound. But label troubles, a resulting lawsuit, and a thirst to rise above the fray spurred Petty to sharpen his focus. Torpedoes' first single, the punchy Don't Do Me Like That, became his first Top 10 hit whilst a less successful but equally towering single, Here Comes My Girl, upped the jangle and showed The Heartbreakers' striking contrast between brooding melancholy and ringing elation.
Among the rest of the tracks-including the underdog anthem Even The Losers - the one that truly launched Torpedoes is Refugee. The most angst-ridden song the band had in it, Refugee synthesized yet transcended everything The Heartbreakers were about: tight licks, Petty's indelible rasp, and a haunting resonance that spoke to the past and the future. While the live cuts and gorgeous B-side Casa Dega are enjoyable, the selling point is the previously unheard Nowhere, a skeletal, hookless rocker.
Over 30 years since its release, 'Damn The Torpedoes' still sounds like the breezy pop/rock experience it was always meant to be, and remains a record ripe to be discovered by a new generation.
One of the Top 500 Albums of All Time: 'With hair like Jagger, and a voice like Dylan in tune, Petty de-frilled classic rock and cranked up his bar band. In 1979, he filed for bankruptcy; then Torpedoes took off, mostly because Here Comes My Girl seemed to keep the promises those rock gods forgot they'd made.' Rolling Stone
'What's immediately noticeable about Damn the Torpedoes is the timelessness of its melodies and riffs. While some classic Petty albums, like solo hit Full Moon Fever and the Heartbreakers' sixth release Southern Accents, feel firmly grounded in the 1980s, Torpedoes is the kind of sleek beast that rocks as hard today as it ever did. With its measured but piercing guitars and laconic vocals, the album also heavily signposts the influence Petty has had on modern southern rock outfits like Drive-By Truckers, Band of Horses and My Morning Jacket. Opening track Refugee instantly lays out the trademark Petty blueprint: clean, assertive riffs followed by surf-cool vocals and an instantly memorable chorus, coming to a final crescendo before the fun has worn off. Speaking of fun, tracks like Even the Losers and Don't Do Me Like That still crackle with a mischievous energy, every note and guitar lick hiding a brazen smirk or sly wink.' BBC
'Not long after You're Gonna Get It, Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers' label, Shelter, was sold to MCA Records. Petty struggled to free himself from the major label, eventually sending himself into bankruptcy. He settled with MCA and set to work on his third album, digging out some old Mudcrutch numbers and quickly writing new songs. Amazingly, through all the frustration and anguish, Petty & the Heartbreakers delivered their breakthrough and arguably their masterpiece with Damn the Torpedoes. Musically, it follows through on the promise of their first two albums, offering a tough, streamlined fusion of the Stones and Byrds that, thanks to Jimmy Iovine's clean production, sounded utterly modern yet timeless. It helped that the Heartbreakers had turned into a tighter, muscular outfit, reminiscent of, well, the Stones in their prime -- all of the parts combine into a powerful, distinctive sound capable of all sorts of subtle variations. Their musical suppleness helps bring out the soul in Petty's impressive set of songs. He had written a few classics before -- American Girl, Listen to Her Heart -- but here his songwriting truly blossoms. Most of the songs have a deep melancholy undercurrent -- the tough Here Comes My Girl and Even the Losers have tender hearts; the infectious Don't Do Me Like That masks a painful relationship; Refugee is a scornful, blistering rocker; Louisiana Rain is a tear-jerking ballad. Yet 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.' AllMusic.com
'Petty's "breakthrough" album, his third, from 1979, the big-sounding, hi-gloss, monster-drumming Jimmy Iovine production which blasted the 'breakers out of their UK-only taste corner and propelled their leader towards American superstardom on the back of Refugee. It's good stuff.' The Independent
Tom Petty - Lead and Backing Vocals, Guitar
Mike Campell - Lead Guitar, Harmonica, Organ
Stan Lynch - Drums and Backing Vocals
Ron Blair - Bass
Benmont Tench - Keyboards, Backing Vocals