Jul 26

Queen – News Of The World (1977) [Japanese Limited SHM-SACD 2011 # UIGY-9515]
PS3 Rip | SACD ISO | DSD64 2.0 > 1-bit/2.8224 MHz | 39:15 minutes | Scans included | 1,6 GB
or FLAC(converted with foobar2000 to tracks) 24bit/88,2 kHz | Full Scans included | 821 MB
based on Digital Remaster 2011 | Genre: Rock

If Day at the Races was a sleek, streamlined album, its 1977 successor, News of the World, was its polar opposite, an explosion of styles that didn’t seem to hold to any particular center. It’s front-loaded with two of Queen’s biggest anthems – the stomping, stadium-filling chant “We Will Rock You” and its triumphant companion, “We Are the Champions” – which are quickly followed by the ferocious “Sheer Heart Attack,” a frenzied rocker that hits harder than anything on the album that shares its name (a remarkable achievement in itself). Three songs, three quick shifts in mood, but that’s hardly the end of it. As the News rolls on, you’re treated to the arch, campy crooning of “My Melancholy Blues,” a shticky blues shuffle in “Sleeping on the Sidewalk,” and breezy Latin rhythms on “Who Needs You.” Then there’s the neo-disco of “Fight from the Inside,” which is eclipsed by the mechanical funk of “Get Down, Make Love,” a dirty grind that’s stripped of sensuality. That cold streak on “Get Down, Make Love” runs through the album as a whole. Despite the explosion of sounds and rhythms, this album doesn’t add up to party thanks to that slightly distancing chilly vibe that hangs over the album. Nevertheless, many of these songs work well on their own as entities, so there is plenty to savor here, especially from Brian May. Whether he’s doing the strangely subdued eccentric English pop “All Dead, All Dead” or especially the majestic yet nimble rocker “It’s Late,” he turns in work that gives this album some lightness, which it needs. And that’s the reason News of the World was a monster hit despite its coldness – when it works, it’s massive, earth-shaking rock & roll, the sound of a band beginning to revel in its superstardom.

Tracklist:
01. We Will Rock You
02. We Are The Champions
03. Sheer Heart Attack
04. All Dead, All Dead
05. Spread Your Wings
06. Fight From The Inside
07. Get Down, Make Love
08. Sleeping On The Sidewalk
09. Who Needs You
10. It’s Late
11. My Melancholy Blues

This 2011 version has been meticulously re-created using the finest modern analogue and digital technology from the original first-generation master mixes.
Mastered by Bob Ludwig, Gateway Mastering Studios, Portland, ME. SA-CD Authoring: Gus Skinas.

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Jul 26

Queen – Queen II (1974/2015)
FLAC (tracks) 24 bit/96 kHz | Time – 40:49 minutes | 887 MB | Genre: Rock
Studio Masters, Official Digital Download – Source: AcousticSounds | Front Cover | © Hollywood Records

Released only eight months after Queen’s debut, Queen II consolidated the band’s pioneering sound and continued to build momentum for the group, charting significantly higher than the first album on both sides of the Atlantic. The band even enjoyed its first hit, Seven Seas Of Rhye, a British top 10 single. Thought by many critics to have been highly underrated, Queen II has come to be considered not only one of the group’s most inspired, but a classic of 70s rock included on many “best of” and essential album lists.

In one regard, “Queen II” does indeed provide more of the same thing as on the band’s debut. Certainly, of all the other albums in Queen’s catalog it bears the closest resemblance to its immediate predecessor, particularly in its lean, hard attack and in how it has only one song that is well-known to listeners outside of their hardcore cult: in this case, it’s “Seven Seas of Rhye,” which is itself more elliptical than “Keep Yourself Alive,” the big song from the debut. But these similarities are superficial and Queen II is a very different beast than its predecessor, an album that is richer, darker, and weirder, an album that finds Queen growing as a band by leaps and bounds. There is still a surplus of ideas, but their energies are better focused this time around, channeled into a over-inflated, pompous rock that could be called prog if it wasn’t so heavy. Even with all the queens and ogres that populate Queen II, this never feels as fantastical as Genesis or Uriah Heep, and that’s because Queen hits hard as a rock band here, where even the blasts of vocal harmonies feel like power chords, no matter how florid they are. Besides, these grandiose harmonies, along with the handful of wistful ballads here, are overshadowed by the onslaught of guitars and pummeling rhythms that give Queen II majesty and menace. Queen is coiled, tense, and vicious here, delivering on their inherent sense of drama, and that gives Queen II real power as music, as well as a true cohesion. The one thing that is missing is any semblance of a pop sensibility, even when they flirt with a mock Phil Spector production on “Funny How Love Is.” This hits like heavy metal but has an art-rock sensibility through and through, which also means that it has no true hook in for those who don’t want to succumb to Queen’s world. But that kind of insular drama is quite alluring in its own right, which is why Queen II is one of the favorites of their hardcore fans. At the very least, it illustrates that Queen is starting to pull all their ambitions and influences into a signature sound, and it’s quite powerful in that regard.

Tracklist:
01 – Procession
02 – Father To Son
03 – White Queen (As It Began)
04 – Some Day One Day
05 – The Loser In The End
06 – Ogre Battle
07 – The Fairy Feller’s Master-Stroke
08 – Nevermore
09 – The March Of The Black Queen
10 – Funny How Love Is
11 – Seven Seas Of Rhye

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Jul 26

Queen – Queen (1973/2015)
FLAC (tracks) 24 bit/96 kHz | Time – 38:50 minutes | 889 MB | Genre: Rock
Studio Masters, Official Digital Download – Source: AcousticSounds | Front Cover | © Hollywood Records

“Queen” is the eponymous debut studio album by British rock band Queen, released in July 1973. It was recorded at Trident Studios and De Lane Lea Music Centre, London, with production by Roy Thomas Baker (as Roy Baker), John Anthony and Queen.

The album was influenced by the hard rock, progressive rock and heavy metal of the day. It covers subjects such as folklore (“My Fairy King”) and religion (“Jesus”). Lead singer Freddie Mercury composed five of the ten tracks, guitarist Brian May composed four songs, (including “Doing All Right”, which was co-written by Smile band-mate Tim Staffell), and drummer Roger Taylor composed and sang “Modern Times Rock and Roll”. The final song on the album is a short instrumental version of “Seven Seas of Rhye”. The band included on the album sleeve the comment “And nobody played synthesiser”, a purist principle of May’s, as some listeners had mistaken their elaborate multi-tracking and effects processed by guitar and vocal sounds as synthesisers. Bassist John Deacon was credited on the sleeve notes of the original vinyl release as “Deacon John”,but after its release, he asked to be referred to by his real name.

Tracklist:
01 – Keep Yourself Alive
02 – Doing Alright
03 – Great King Rat
04 – My Fairy King
05 – Liar
06 – The Night Comes Down
07 – Modern Times Rock ‘N Roll
08 – Son And Daughter
09 – Jesus
10 – Seven Seas Of Rhye

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Jul 26

Queen – Queen II (1974) [Japanese Limited SHM-SACD 2011 # UIGY-9511]
PS3 Rip | SACD ISO | DSD64 2.0 > 1-bit/2.8224 MHz | 40:47 minutes | Scans included | 1,66 GB
or FLAC(converted with foobar2000 to tracks) 24bit/88,2 kHz | Full Scans included | 813 MB
based on Digital Remaster 2011 | Genre: Rock

In one regard, Queen II does indeed provide more of the same thing as on the band’s debut. Certainly, of all the other albums in Queen’s catalog it bears the closest resemblance to its immediate predecessor, particularly in its lean, hard attack and in how it has only one song that is well-known to listeners outside of their hardcore cult: in this case, it’s “Seven Seas of Rhye,” which is itself more elliptical than “Keep Yourself Alive,” the big song from the debut. But these similarities are superficial and Queen II is a very different beast than its predecessor, an album that is richer, darker, and weirder, an album that finds Queen growing as a band by leaps and bounds. There is still a surplus of ideas, but their energies are better focused this time around, channeled into a over-inflated, pompous rock that could be called prog if it wasn’t so heavy. Even with all the queens and ogres that populate Queen II, this never feels as fantastical as Genesis or Uriah Heep, and that’s because Queen hits hard as a rock band here, where even the blasts of vocal harmonies feel like power chords, no matter how florid they are. Besides, these grandiose harmonies, along with the handful of wistful ballads here, are overshadowed by the onslaught of guitars and pummeling rhythms that give Queen II majesty and menace. Queen is coiled, tense, and vicious here, delivering on their inherent sense of drama, and that gives Queen II real power as music, as well as a true cohesion. The one thing that is missing is any semblance of a pop sensibility, even when they flirt with a mock Phil Spector production on “Funny How Love Is.” This hits like heavy metal but has an art-rock sensibility through and through, which also means that it has no true hook in for those who don’t want to succumb to Queen’s world. But that kind of insular drama is quite alluring in its own right, which is why Queen II is one of the favorites of their hardcore fans. At the very least, it illustrates that Queen is starting to pull all their ambitions and influences into a signature sound, and it’s quite powerful in that regard.

Tracklist:
01. Procession
02. Father To Son
03. White Queen (As It Began)
04. Some Day One Day
05. The Loser In The End
06. Ogre Battle
07. The Fairy Feller’s Master-Stroke
08. Nevermore
09. The March Of The Black Queen
10. Funny How Love Is
11. Seven Seas Of Rhye

This 2011 version has been meticulously re-created using the finest modern analogue and digital technology from the original first-generation master mixes.
Mastered by Bob Ludwig, Gateway Mastering Studios, Portland, ME. SA-CD Authoring: Gus Skinas.

Continue reading »

Jul 26

Queen – A Night At The Opera (1975) [Japanese Limited SHM-SACD 2011 # UIGY-9513]
PS3 Rip | SACD ISO | DSD64 2.0 > 1-bit/2.8224 MHz | 43:06 minutes | Scans included | 1,75 GB
or FLAC(converted with foobar2000 to tracks) 24bit/88,2 kHz | Full Scans included | 869 MB
based on Digital Remaster 2011 | Genre: Rock

Queen were straining at the boundaries of hard rock and heavy metal on Sheer Heart Attack, but they broke down all the barricades on A Night at the Opera, a self-consciously ridiculous and overblown hard rock masterpiece. Using the multi-layered guitars of its predecessor as a foundation, A Night at the Opera encompasses metal (“Death on Two Legs,” “Sweet Lady”), pop (the lovely, shimmering “You’re My Best Friend”), campy British music hall (“Lazing on a Sunday Afternoon,” “Seaside Rendezvous”), and mystical prog rock (“’39,” “The Prophet’s Song”), eventually bringing it all together on the pseudo-operatic “Bohemian Rhapsody.” In short, it’s a lot like Queen’s own version of Led Zeppelin IV, but where Zep find dark menace in bombast, Queen celebrate their own pomposity. No one in the band takes anything too seriously, otherwise the arrangements wouldn’t be as ludicrously exaggerated as they are. But the appeal – and the influence – of A Night at the Opera is in its detailed, meticulous productions. It’s prog rock with a sense of humor as well as dynamics, and Queen never bettered their approach anywhere else.

Tracklist:
01. Death On Two Legs (Dedicated To…)
02. Lazing On A Sunday Afternoon
03. I’m In Love With My Car
04. You’re My Best Friend
05. ’39
06. Sweet Lady
07. Seaside Rendezvous
08. The Prophet’s Song
09. Love Of My Life
10. Good Company
11. Bohemian Rhapsody
12. God Save The Queen

This 2011 version has been meticulously re-created using the finest modern analogue and digital technology from the original first-generation master mixes.
Mastered by Bob Ludwig, Gateway Mastering Studios, Portland, ME. SA-CD Authoring: Gus Skinas.

Continue reading »

Jul 26

Queen – Sheer Heart Attack (1974) [Japanese Limited SHM-SACD 2011 # UIGY-9512]
PS3 Rip | SACD ISO | DSD64 2.0 > 1-bit/2.8224 MHz | 39:00 minutes | Scans included | 1,59 GB
or FLAC(converted with foobar2000 to tracks) 24bit/88,2 kHz | Full Scans included | 791 MB
based on Digital Remaster 2011 | Genre: Rock

Queen II was a breakthrough in terms of power and ambition, but Queen’s third album Sheer Heart Attack was where the band started to gel. It followed quickly on the heels of the second record – just by a matter of months; it was the second album they released in 1974 – but it feels like it had a longer incubation period, so great is the progress here. Which isn’t quite to say that Sheer Heart Attack is flawless – it still has a tendency to meander, sometimes within a song itself, as when the killer opening “Brighton Rock” suddenly veers into long stretches of Brian May solo guitar – but all these detours do not distract from the overall album, they’re in many ways the key to the record itself: it’s the sound of Queen stretching their wings as they learn how to soar to the clouds. There’s a genuine excitement in hearing all the elements to Queen’s sound fall into place here, as the music grows grander and catchier without sacrificing their brutal, hard attack. One of the great strengths of the album is how all four members find their voices as songwriters, penning hooks that are big, bold, and insistent and crafting them in songs that work as cohesive entities instead of flourishes of ideas. This is evident not just in “Killer Queen” – the first, best flourishing of Freddie Mercury’s vaudevillian camp – but also on the pummeling “Stone Cold Crazy,” a frenzied piece of jagged metal that’s all the more exciting because it has a real melodic hook. Those hooks are threaded throughout the record, on both the ballads and the other rockers, but it isn’t just that this is poppier, it’s that they’re able to execute their drama with flair and style. There are still references to mystical worlds (“Lily of the Valley,” “In the Lap of Gods”) but the fantasy does not overwhelm as it did on the first two records; the theatricality is now wielded on everyday affairs, which ironically makes them sound larger than life. And this sense of scale, combined with the heavy guitars, pop hooks, and theatrical style, marks the true unveiling of Queen, making Sheer Heart Attack as the moment where they truly came into their own.

Tracklist:
01. Brighton Rock
02. Killer Queen
03. Tenement Funster
04. Flick Of The Wrist
05. Lily Of The Valley
06. Now I’m Here
07. In The Lap Of The Gods
08. Stone Cold Crazy
09. Dear Friends
10. Misfire
11. Bring Back That Leroy Brown
12. She Makes Me (stormtrooper in stilettos)
13. In The Lap Of The Gods… revisited

This 2011 version has been meticulously re-created using the finest modern analogue and digital technology from the original first-generation master mixes.
Mastered by Bob Ludwig, Gateway Mastering Studios, Portland, ME. SA-CD Authoring: Gus Skinas.

Continue reading »

Jul 25

Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers – Hypnotic Eye (2014) [Bonus Track Edition]
FLAC (tracks) 24 bit/48 kHz | Time – 48:53 minutes | 601 MB | Genre: Rock
Official Digital Download – Source: TomPetty.com | Front cover

Hypnotic Eye is the first album from the band in four years. “I knew I wanted to do a rock & roll record”, – Petty told Rolling Stone in April. “We hadn’t made a straight hard-rockin’ record, from beginning to end, in a long time”. This special Hi-Res edition expanded with one extra track “Playing Dumb” recorded during the album sessions.

Looking back, it’s clear the 2008 Mudcrutch reunion was pivotal for Tom Petty, helping him re-focus and re-dedicate himself to playing in a band. Like the original band, Mudcrutch Mach II didn’t last long — long enough to play a few shows and record a warm, gangly beast of an album — but it reinvigorated Petty. Afterward, he reveled in the sound of how the Heartbreakers played, digging deep into his catalog to shake up his set lists, letting the group exercise some blues muscles on 2010’s Mojo, a record that stood as the Heartbreakers’ rowdiest record since the ’70s but which is easily overshadowed by the trashy psychedelic pulse of 2014’s Hypnotic Eye. Teeming with fuzz, overdriven organ, and hard four-four rhythms, all interrupted by the occasional blues workout or jazz shuffle, Hypnotic Eye comes across as a knowing splice of Petty’s own XM radio show Buried Treasures and Little Steven Van Zandt’s Sirius channel Underground Garage, a record that celebrates all the disreputable 45s created in garages so they could be played in garages. Occasionally, the band evoke memories of their own past — “Shadow People” has guitar tones straight out of Shelter Records — but they’re largely dedicated to the sounds that provided them with their original inspirations. What prevents Hypnotic Eye from sliding into the arena of soft, desperate nostalgia is a combination of muscle and savvy, a combination that gives the album a strong infrastructure — Petty strips his songs to the bone; they’re so lean they feel as if they clock in at two minutes, even if they run twice that long — and a sonic wallop. Much of that visceral thrill is due to co-producers Petty, guitarist Mike Campbell, and Ryan Ulyate accentuating the intuitive interplay in the Heartbreakers with sharp, striking slashes of color; this gives the record immediacy and complexity, which means there is enough aural activity that repeated plays do not dull the LP’s initial bracing impact. Ultimately, Hypnotic Eye is a record about the pure joy of sound, a rush that doesn’t lessen upon repetition — a sentiment that’s true of those old ’60s garage rock singles and early Heartbreakers albums, and this is a surprisingly, satisfyingly vigorous record.

Tracklist:
01 – American Dream Plan B
02 – Fault Lines
03 – Red River
04 – Full Grown Boy
05 – All You Can Carry
06 – Power Drunk
07 – Forgotten Man
08 – Sins Of My Youth
09 – U Get Me High
10 – Burnt Out Town
11 – Shadow People
12 – Playing Dumb [Extra Track]

Musicians:
Tom Petty – vocals, rhythm guitar, production
Mike Campbell – lead guitar, production
Scott Thurston – rhythm guitar, harmonica
Benmont Tench – acoustic and electric piano, organ
Ron Blair – bass guitar
Steve Ferrone – drums, percussion

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Jul 25

Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers – Mojo Tour 2010 (2011)
FLAC (tracks) 24 bit/48 kHz | Time – 72:37 minutes | 1,02 GB | Genre: Rock
Official WEB Edition 24bit/48kHz – Source: TomPetty.com | Artwork

An exclusive collection of random live tracks recorded buring the Mojo Tour 2010. Available for (that) tour ticket purchasers and members of the Highway Companions Club. Digital download only.

Tracklist:
01 – Listen To Her Heart
02 – King’s Highway
03 – You Don’t Know How It Feels
04 – I Won’t Back Down
05 – Drivin’ Down To Georgia
06 – Breakdown
07 – Jefferson Jericho Blues
08 – First Flash Of Freedom
09 – Running Man’s Bible
10 – I Should Have Known It
11 – Good Enough
12 – Refugee
13 – Runnin’ Down A Dream
14 – American Girl

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Jul 25

Tom Petty – Highway Companion (2006/2015)
FLAC (tracks) 24 bit/96kHz | Time – 43:42 minutes | 895 MB | Genre: Rock
Official Digital Download – Source: HDTracks | © Warner Bros. Records
Recorded: 2005-2006 at Bungalow Palace and Shoreline Recorders in Los Angeles, CA.

Exclusively on HDtracks, images of the master tapes are included with every download, along with a note from the remaster producer, Ryan Ulyate.

Highway Companion, Tom Petty’s third solo album, was recorded at Bungalow Palace and Shoreline Recorders in Los Angeles, CA. Jeff Lynne produced the album with Tom Petty and Mike Campbell. Both “Saving Grace” and “Big Weekend” were released to radio as singles. The record peaked at number 4 on the Billboard 200 chart and hit number one on the US Rock Albums chart in 2006.

Tom Petty’s concept for his third solo album is laid bare in its very title: it’s called Highway Companion, which is a tip-off that this record was made with the road in mind. As it kicks off with the chugging Jimmy Reed-via-ZZ Top riff on “Saving Grace,” the album does indeed seem to be ideal music for road trips, but Petty changes gears pretty quickly, down-shifting to the bittersweet acoustic “Square One.” Although the album ramps back up with the ’60s-styled pop of “Flirting with Time” and the swampy, Dylan-esque “Down South,” the quick move to the ruminative is a good indication that for as good as Highway Companion can sound on the road, Petty looks inward on this album just as frequently as he looks outward. Perhaps this is the best indication that this is indeed a solo affair, not a rock & roll record with the Heartbreakers. Petty of course doesn’t go it completely alone here: his longtime guitarist Mike Campbell is here as is producer/co-writer Jeff Lynne, who helmed Petty’s 1989 solo debut, Full Moon Fever, and the Heartbreakers’ 1991 Into the Great Wide Open and now returns to the fold 15 years later. Lynne’s previous Petty productions were so bright, big, and shiny, they would have been suitable for an ELO album, and given that track record, it would be easy to assume that he would follow the same template for Highway Companion, but that’s not the case at all. Highway Companion has as much in common with the rustic, handmade overtones of 1994’s Wildflowers as it does with the pop sheen of Full Moon Fever — it is precise and polished, yet it’s on a small scale, lacking the layers of overdubs that distinguish Lynne’s production, and the end result is quite appealing, since it’s at once modest but not insular. But Highway Companion also feels a little off, as if Petty is striving to make a fun rock & pop record — a soundtrack for the summer, or at least a good drive — but his heart is in making a melancholy introspective album, where he’s grappling with getting older. This gives the album a sad undercurrent even at its lightest moments, which makes it ideal for driving alone late at night. Since it arrives after the bombastic The Last DJ, it’s refreshing to hear Petty underplay his themes here, and it also helps that Lynne helps toughen up his songcraft. All this makes Highway Companion at the very least another typically reliable collection from Petty, but at its core, it’s moodier than most of his records. It has a lot in common with Petty’s divorce album, Echo, but it’s coming from a different place — one that’s content, yet still unsettled. That may mean that this album isn’t quite as fun as it initially seems on the surface, but that bittersweet undercurrent does indeed make Highway Companion a good partner for long nights on the road. —Stephen Thomas Erlewine

Tracklist:
1 Saving Grace 03:47
2 Square One 03:26
3 Flirting With Time 03:13
4 Down South 03:26
5 Jack 02:27
6 Turn This Car Around 03:58
7 Big Weekend 03:15
8 Night Driver 04:27
9 Damaged By Love 03:22
10 This Old Town 04:15
11 Ankle Deep 03:22
12 The Golden Rose 04:44

Personnel:
Tom Petty – vocals, backing vocals, rhythm guitar, 12-string guitar, lead guitar, bass guitar, keyboards, electric piano, drums, harmonica
Mike Campbell – lead guitar, 12-string guitar, vibraphone
Jeff Lynne – rhythm guitar, bass guitar, keyboards, autoharp, backing vocals

Producer’s Note: Tom Petty Hi-Res Remastering :: The Hi-Res (24bit 96K) remastering of the Tom Petty catalog reveals a level of detail that was only previously heard by a select group of musicians, producers and engineers in the studio. It’s as close to the sound of original stereo master as you can get. We’re very happy with the way it came out, and believe it’s an important way to preserve the legacy of this great body of work.
If hearing the highest possible sound quality is important to you, then this is where you’ll get it.
The remastering was done in the fall of 2014 by Chris Bellman at Bernie Grundman Mastering. I supervised it and Tom approved it. Great care was taken to find the original first-generation masters and transfer them with minimal eq and little or no dynamic range compression. In cases where the first-generation masters were unusable, we used the best sounding second-generation masters.*
To allow for full dynamic range, and to let the music “breathe” the Hi-Res versions have about 6-8db less digital level than a typical “loud” peak-limited CD or mp3. To enjoy these albums to their fullest extent, play them back though a good system and turn up the volume.
With this increased level of detail and sonic impact, we hope you’ll enjoy rediscovering these great albums as much as we did! —Ryan Ulyate, April 2014

Continue reading »

Jul 25

Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers – The Last DJ (2002/2015)
FLAC (tracks) 24 bit/96 kHz  | Time – 00:47:56 minutes | 1,03 GB | Genre: Rock
Official Digital Download – Source: Qobuz | © Warner Bros. Records
Recorded: 2001–02 at Cello Studios, Hollywood, California

The Last DJ is the eleventh studio album by Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers. The tracks “The Last DJ”, “Money Becomes King”, “Joe”, and “Can’t Stop the Sun” are attacks on the greediness of the music industry. Although he first claimed that the album and title track were both works of fiction, Petty later admitted that both were inspired by Los Angeles DJ Jim Ladd, although he had already claimed this on Ladd’s radio show, prior to the album’s release.

A “limited edition” digipack version of the album was also released, including a DVD of music videos and other footage shot during the album’s production. The album reached #9 on the Billboard 200 aided by the single “The Last DJ” which hit #22 on Billboard’s Mainstream Rock Tracks in 2002. As of 2010, The Last DJ has sold 353,000 copies in the U.S. according to Nielsen SoundScan.

In an episode of The Simpsons titled “How I Spent My Strummer Vacation”, Homer receives song-writing lessons from Tom Petty, and in the original airing the track “The Last DJ” can be heard playing over the radio in the final scene. The song was changed for syndication. The song “Dreamville” is played at the end of the DVD that was released to commemorate the 2002 Anaheim Angels’ World Series win. The album also marks the return of original Heartbreaker Ron Blair on bass, replacing his own replacement, the ailing Howie Epstein. His return was late in the recording process however, and Petty and Campbell contribute most of the bass work themselves.

Tom Petty has always battled corporations and the music industry — fighting for lower retail prices for Hard Promises, complaining about videos, and always fighting for old-school, artist-first ’60s rock aesthetics. There’s a lot to admire about this stance, especially since he’s essentially right about corporations having too much of a stranglehold on pop music, but it doesn’t provide a solid foundation for an album, as the stultifying The Last DJ illustrates. Not every song on the record is about the death of rock & roll and the evils that corporations do, but it sure feels that way, since it begins with the one-two punch of “The Last DJ” and “Money Becomes King.” The former is a bitter lament for the loss of free thought in pop culture, using the DJ as a truth-telling seer; the latter is a rewrite of “Into the Great Wide Open,” all about a favorite artist who sells out. Both are didactic with their tortured metaphors and stretched narratives, but they seem subtle compared to the fourth song, “Joe,” a heavy-handed tirade about a record company CEO that is unbearable in its awful, vulgar lyrics and is rendered unlistenable by Petty’s hammy vocals; it is easily the worst song he’s ever written. These front-loaded tracks obscure the lovely “Dreamville,” the best song here, and effectively offer an early deathblow to an album that alternately finds Petty muddling through ballads and stumbling through rockers. Though his songcraft serves him well on occasion, it’s only on occasion — the aforementioned “Dreamville,” “You and Me,” “Have Love Will Travel” — and the record’s spare, black-and-white production doesn’t add color to compositions that need it. Throughout The Last DJ, Petty sounds utterly lost — and instead of liberating him like it did in the past, it paralyzes him, boxing him into a corner where he can’t draw on his strengths. It’s the first true flop in a career that, until now, had none. –Stephen Thomas Erlewine

Tracklist:
1 The Last DJ 3:31
2 Money Becomes King 5:12
3 Dreamville 3:46
4 Joe 3:16
5 When A Kid Goes Bad 4:51
6 Like A Diamond 4:35
7 Lost Children 4:29
8 Blue Sunday 2:56
9 You And Me 2:56
10 The Man Who Loves Women 2:53
11 Have Love Will Travel 4:06
12 Can’t Stop The Sun 4:52

Personnel:
Tom Petty – guitars, vocals, piano, ukulele, bass on “The Last DJ”, “Money Becomes King”, “Joe”, “Like a Diamond”, “Blue Sunday”, “You and Me”, and “Have Love Will Travel”
Mike Campbell – guitars, bass on “Dreamville”, “When A Kid Goes Bad”, and “The Man Who Loves Women”
Benmont Tench – piano, organ, various keyboards
Scott Thurston – guitar, lap steel guitar, ukulele, background vocals
Steve Ferrone – drums
Ron Blair – bass on “Lost Children” and “Can’t Stop The Sun”
Lenny Castro – percussion
Lindsey Buckingham – background vocals on “The Man Who Loves Women”
Jon Brion – orchestral arrangements and conducting

Producer’s Note: Tom Petty Hi-Res Remastering :: The Hi-Res (24bit 96K) remastering of the Tom Petty catalog reveals a level of detail that was only previously heard by a select group of musicians, producers and engineers in the studio. It’s as close to the sound of original stereo master as you can get. We’re very happy with the way it came out, and believe it’s an important way to preserve the legacy of this great body of work.
If hearing the highest possible sound quality is important to you, then this is where you’ll get it.
The remastering was done in the fall of 2014 by Chris Bellman at Bernie Grundman Mastering. I supervised it and Tom approved it. Great care was taken to find the original first-generation masters and transfer them with minimal eq and little or no dynamic range compression. In cases where the first-generation masters were unusable, we used the best sounding second-generation masters.*
To allow for full dynamic range, and to let the music “breathe” the Hi-Res versions have about 6-8db less digital level than a typical “loud” peak-limited CD or mp3. To enjoy these albums to their fullest extent, play them back though a good system and turn up the volume.
With this increased level of detail and sonic impact, we hope you’ll enjoy rediscovering these great albums as much as we did! —Ryan Ulyate, April 2014

Continue reading »

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