Review #231: Damn the Torpedoes, Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers

Karla Clifton
2 min readJan 28, 2022

#231: Damn the Torpedoes, Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers

First of all, kudos to Tom Petty for actually crediting the Heartbreakers on this album.

Damn the Torpedoes is a cool 36 minutes long, which is a welcome break from Greatest Hits albums and skit-heavy rap. Not that those aren’t great records: they’re just harder to get through. Especially if you didn’t sign up for this. “Thank God, no more Patsy Cline,” said my boyfriend. Tom Petty got a much more positive review.

It was a bit of a trip to listen to this right after Rihanna, who has the voice of a Barbadian angel. The RS blurb says that Petty has “a voice like Dylan’s in tune,” which is both hilarious and spot-on. But I’ve always loved his caterwauling. Just listen to the way he articulates the vowels on “Shadow Of A Doubt (A Complex Kid),” with that rock and roll style singing that really turns some people off. What can I say? I love the way he wails.

The great thing about a 36-minute-long album is that there’s no filler, just banger after banger. “Here Comes My Girl” was written in the same week as “Refugee,” which is almost hard to believe. Hands down, though, my favorite track is “Don’t Do Me Like That.” That song made me pick up my Stratocaster for the first time in a long time, so I could scream DON’TDOMELIKETHAT! and feel just a little badass. (Did you know my dog is afraid of amplifiers? I do now.)

Those are hardly the only great songs on here. “Even The Losers” is Springsteen-esque, celebrating losers who get lucky sometimes. “You Tell Me” has a classic sound and classic lyrics. “Louisiana Rain” tricks you by starting out with a trippy intro before taking a hard turn into the blues.

Petty filed for bankruptcy right before this record’s release, and then it torpedoed him into superstardom. Another fun fact: it only made #2 on the Billboard album chart, because Pink Floyd’s The Wall (#129) kept it there. It was released 15 years before Wildflowers (#214), which is probably why it rocks so much harder. You have to have fun before getting all acoustic and sad.

Other Highlights: “Century City” has some questionable backing vocals, but it’s a lot of fun to sing along to. “What Are You Doin’ In My Life?” has delightful synths, plus a real life harmony!

IS RS FULL OF IT? Yes. Wildflowers might have been Petty’s artistic achievement, but Damn the Torpedoes is all killer, no filler.

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