i've been listening to the tom petty 4 cd "live anthology" since last tuesday, and i still can't get enough of it! at the start of this year, when i caught the massive "running down a dream: tom petty and the heartbreakers" film, i've been (re)hooked on petty! after watching that incredible documentary, i picked up one of his "greatest hits" albums for my ipod - to make up for the lack of any petty albums in my collection, despite the years of listening to his music (mostly via radio). now, with the 4 cd live collection, i've made a small dent in filling that void.
this release was a few years in the making - and is the stripped down version of the larger package the includes a fifth disc, 2 concert dvds, and a deluxe booklet where petty basically breaks down each selection. the only knock i have on the "live anthology" is the paltry liner notes that come with the music. otherwise, i'm more than happy with the 4+ hours of material - which is not, interestingly, arranged chronologically.
petty and his guitarist, mike campbell, sifted through 30 years of concert performances - the process itself was mammoth enough - and then decided to present the material "mood first" (to use his words). that decision worked. petty included a large number of eclectic covers in the mix! the most fascinating cover, i thought, was his take on james bond's "goldfinger!" for a huge bond fan, that was priceless. coming off paul mccartney's "live and let die" from his "good evening new york city" release the week earlier - it's an early bond christmas present - ha!
also covered is the grateful dead's "friend of the devil" - which, while workmanlike - shouldn't worry jerry garcia. but their take on fleetwood mac's classic "oh well" was incredible. if any group could pull off sounding like led zeppelin - they did it handily with that intense version of "oh well!" another successful cover was van morrison's "mystic eyes!" curiously, however, for someone who opened for bob dylan during a mid-80's summer tour, and played with dylan in the travelling wilburys, no dylan covers?
but getting to petty's own tunes - my favorite (of an entire album of favorites) was probably "mary jane's last dance." then there's "american girl," "free fallin'" and, "learning to fly" - all great cuts live! another interesting selection was the extended "it's good to be king" - which clocked in at 12:14, and was the longest song in the collection. there are some ad-libs interspersed with the music, but "it's good to be king" was the extended jam - so to speak.
musically, there were no misses on this release. it's a must for any petty fan - but i suspect die hard fans will go for the deluxe version, if only for the detailed liner notes. but those of us going for the cds, sans extras, can long on to the companion website and access plenty of bonus material to supplement the music!