Christmas has come early for fans of Tom Petty.
The iconic rocker’s record label has just released “An American Treasure”, a comprehensive four-disc boxed set featuring more than 60 tracks.
This package, which carries with it a price tag of close to $60 in Canada, includes dozens of previously unreleased recordings, alternate versions of classic Petty offerings, rarities and historic live performances.
The music assembled here is a pretty good representation of Petty who, over the course of five decades, firmly established himself as one of America’s finest songwriters and endeared himself to fans the world over with a killer live show in which he never held anything back.
All newly released recordings on An American Treasure have been mixed by Ryan Ulyate from pristine transfers of the original studio multitrack masters. All 60 recordings have been re-mastered by Chris Bellman.
Because the set covers such a large block of time you get to see how Petty’s music evolved over time and just how diverse his influences were.
Petty’s daughter Adria and his wife Dana were the principal driving forces behind the record which they saw as both a tribute and a love letter to him and the music he left behind.
They served as executive producers for the project and curated the track list for it, working closely with two of Petty’s former bandmates, Mike Campbell and Benmont Tench, and with Ryan Ulyate, who often collaborated with Petty in the studio.
Adria and Dana Petty have described the project as a true labour of love.
“Everyone involved in this project chose each track with tremendous care and deep respect for the body of work Tom Petty created over the course of 40 years. He also accumulated a wealth of unreleased music in his vaults, and we have collectively uncovered one gem after another that will keep us all listening and discovering new facets of Tom’s talent for many years to come.”
So what little treasures await fans here?
For starters there’s “Keep A Little Soul," a previously unreleased recording from the 1982 sessions for Long After Dark. It’s also the first singled culled from this set.
Another previously unreleased gem is
“Keeping Me Alive", also culled from the Long After Dark sessions.
There are some great tracks recorded live at Capitol Studios all the way back in 1977, most notably “Listen to Her Heart” and “Breakdown”.
There are alternate takes of “Wake Up Time", “Good Enough", “Like A Diamond” and “Don’t Fade On Me”.
There are great remastered versions of “Down South," “Money Becomes King” and “Something Good Coming”.
The set also includes early takes of material like “King of the Hill” and outtakes of little treasures like “Walkin’ From the Fire”, “I Don’t Belong” and “Bus To Tampa Bay”.
Whether you’re a long-time fan of Petty or someone whose only developed an interest in his work over the past few years you’ll find something on this set you can sink your teeth into.
If $60 is a bit more than you care to spend there are less expensive versions of this set available as well with fewer tracks.
(Rated 4 out of 5 stars)
“An American Treasure” is being released in multiple formats:
- “An American Treasure: Deluxe Edition”, which I write of here, contains four CDs plus a 52-page booklet with rare and previously unseen photographs of Petty, his bandmates, family and friends. The booklet also features detailed track-by-track liner notes by noted journalist and Tom Petty aficionado Bud Scoppa.
- “An American Treasure: Super Deluxe Limited Edition” contains four CDs and an 84-page hardbound book expanded from the Deluxe Edition to include many additional photographs and an essay by renowned author Nicholas Dawidoff that speaks to Petty’s presence in our lives and influence on our culture for more than 40 years. This special package also includes a newly created lithograph of Shepard Fairey’s cover artwork, as well as custom reproductions of Tom Petty’s handwritten lyrics to four songs featured in this collection and a numbered certificate of authenticity.
- “An American Treasure: Vinyl Edition” contains six vinyl records and a 48-page booklet containing all of the photographic and editorial elements found in the CD Deluxe Edition. This set also includes the Nicholas Dawidoff essay. The vinyl edition comes out Nov. 23.
- “An American Treasure: Standard Edition” contains two CDs with 26 tracks and Bud Scoppa’s detailed track-by-track notes. This one sells for just $25.
Doug Gallant is a freelance writer and well-known connoisseur of a wide variety of music. His On Track column will appear in The Guardian every second Saturday. To comment on what he has to say or to offer suggestions for future reviews, email him at email@example.com.