Damn the Torpedoes (album)

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Damn the Torpedoes
Studio album by Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers
Released October 19, 1979 (1979-10-19)
Recorded Sound City, Van Nuys
Cherokee Studios, Hollywood
Genre Heartland rock, rock and roll
Length 36:40
Label Backstreet, MCA, Geffen, UMe
Producer Jimmy Iovine, Tom Petty
Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers chronology
You're Gonna Get It!
Damn the Torpedoes
Hard Promises
Singles from Damn the Torpedoes
  1. "Don't Do Me Like That"
    Released: November 5, 1979
  2. "Refugee"
    Released: January 11, 1980
  3. "Here Comes My Girl"
    Released: April 7, 1980

Damn the Torpedoes is the third album by Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, released in 1979. This was the first of three Petty albums originally released by the Backstreet Records label, distributed by MCA Records. It built on the commercial success and critical acclaim of his two previous albums and peaked at #2 on the Billboard 200 album chart.[1] In 2003, the album was ranked number 313 on Rolling Stone magazine's list of the 500 greatest albums of all time.[2]

Background and Recording[edit]

Petty's recording contract was re-assigned to MCA when his previous label Shelter Records and distributor ABC Records was sold to MCA in 1979. MCA took over rights to Petty's published music, infuriating him, and he responded by declaring bankruptcy as a tactic to void his contract with MCA.[3] In the end, the record company backed down, and Petty negotiated a deal that allowed him to retain publishing rights and form his own Backstreet Records label, manufactured and distributed by MCA. The album, now co-produced by Jimmy Iovine, was recorded at Sound City Studios in Van Nuys and Cherokee Studios in Hollywood.[4] The title is a reference to a famous quote by Admiral David Farragut: "Damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead!". All of Petty's Backstreet recordings (and all MCA releases at that time) were re-issued by MCA in 1988.

Release and Reception[edit]

Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
Allmusic 5/5 stars[5]
Robert Christgau B+[6]
Rolling Stone (favorable) 1979[7]
5/5 stars 2004[8]
The Rolling Stone Album Guide 3.5/5 stars[9]

The album was a breakthrough for Petty and the Heartbreakers. It was their first top 10 album rising to #2 (for seven weeks and kept from #1 by Pink Floyd's The Wall) on the Billboard albums chart.[1] It yielded two songs that made the top 15 on the Billboard Hot 100 singles chart, "Don't Do Me Like That" (#10) and "Refugee" (#15).[10][11] Thanks to the new co-producer Jimmy Iovine, Damn the Torpedoes proved to be a major leap forward in production.[5]

Critical reception generally reflected the commercial success of the album. The original review in Rolling Stone raved that it was the "album we've all been waiting for – that is, if we were all Tom Petty fans, which we would be if there were any justice in the world."[7] Subsequent reviews have continued this trend calling it "one of the great records of the album rock era"[5] and culminating in its placement in Rolling Stone's list of the 500 greatest albums of all time.[2]


The album was digitally remastered by Joe Gastwirt and reissued in 2001 on HDCD.[citation needed]

On November 9, 2010, a deluxe edition of the album was released on three formats, a 2×CD set, a 2×LP (180g) deluxe package and a Blu-ray Audio disc package. Digital download available in numerous audio codecs in audiophile quality 96kHz/24bit through resellers such as HDTracks. All the tracks (original and unreleased) were remastered from the original analog master tapes by Chris Bellman at Bernie Grundman Mastering Studios in Hollywood, CA.[citation needed]


Track listing[edit]

All songs were written by Tom Petty, except where noted.

Side one[edit]

  1. "Refugee" (Petty, Mike Campbell) – 3:22
  2. "Here Comes My Girl" (Petty, Campbell) – 4:27
  3. "Even the Losers" – 3:35
  4. "Shadow of a Doubt (A Complex Kid)" – 4:25
  5. "Century City" – 3:45

Side two[edit]

  1. "Don't Do Me Like That" – 2:44
  2. "You Tell Me" – 4:35
  3. "What Are You Doin' in My Life?" – 3:27
  4. "Louisiana Rain" – 5:54

Deluxe Edition Disc 2[edit]

  1. "Nowhere"
  2. "Surrender"
  3. "Casa Dega" (Petty, Campbell)
  4. "It's Rainin' Again"
  5. "Shadow of a Doubt (A Complex Kid)"
  6. "Don't Do Me Like That"
  7. "Somethin' Else" (Eddie Cochran)
  8. "Casa Dega (Demo version)" (Petty, Campbell)
  9. "Refugee (early version)" (Petty, Campbell)

Tracks 5–7 were recorded live at Hammersmith Odeon, London, England on March 6, 1980 and featured the same mix and production team as The Live Anthology. "Nowhere", "Surrender", "Casa Dega" (Demo) and "Refugee" (alternate take) were mixed by Mike Campbell and Ryan Ulyate in late 2009/early 2010, while "Casa Dega" and "It's Rainin' Again" were the same versions featured on the Playback box set.


The Heartbreakers:

  • Tom Petty – 6 & 12 string guitars, lead vocals and harmonica
  • Mike Campbell – 6 & 12 string guitars, slide guitar, keyboards, accordion, bass guitar
  • Benmont Tench – piano, organ, harmonium and vocals
  • Ron Blair – electric bass guitar
  • Stan Lynch – drums and vocals

Session Musicians:

  • Donald "Duck" Dunn – bass on "You Tell Me"
  • Phil Jones (uncredited) – percussion except on "Refugee"
  • Jim Keltner (uncredited) – percussion on "Refugee"

Recording Personnel:

  • Jimmy Iovine – producer
  • Tom Petty – producer
  • Greg Calbi – mastering
  • Shelly Yakus – engineer
  • John Mathias – assistant engineer
  • Thom Panunzio – assistant engineer
  • Gray Russell – assistant engineer
  • Skip Saylor – assistant engineer
  • Tori Swenson – assistant engineer

Cover Art Personnel:

  • Lynn Goldsmith – photography
  • Dennis Callaghan – photography
  • Aaron Rapoport – photography
  • Glen Christensen – cover photography
  • Tommy Steele – art direction


Year Chart Position
1979 US Billboard 200 2[1]


  1. ^ a b c Damn The Torpedoes – Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers > Charts & Awards > Billboard Albums at AllMusic. Retrieved 2009-05-01.
  2. ^ a b Levy, Joe; Steven Van Zandt (2006) [2005]. "313 | Damn the Torpedoes – Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers". Rolling Stone's 500 Greatest Albums of All Time (3rd ed.). London: Turnaround. ISBN 1-932958-61-4. OCLC 70672814. Retrieved 26 February 2006. 
  3. ^ Tom Petty, Runnin' Down a Dream (film), 2007 documentary, @1:08:00.
  4. ^ "Sound City Studio's Client List". Sound City Studios. Retrieved 2014-04-05. 
  5. ^ a b c Erlewine, Stephen Thomas. Damn the Torpedoes (album) at AllMusic. Retrieved 8 November 2005.
  6. ^ Christgau, Robert. "CG: Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers". Robert Christgau. Retrieved 26 February 2006. 
  7. ^ a b Swartley, Ariel (December 13, 1979). "Damn The Torpedoes". Rolling Stone (306). Retrieved 14 September 2011. 
  8. ^ Zanes, Warren (September 16, 2004). "The Rolling Stone Hall of Fame: The Greatest Albums Ever Made Damn the Torpedoes > Album Review". Rolling Stone (957). p. 83. Retrieved 7 August 2007. 
  9. ^ Brackett, Nathan; Hoard, Christian, eds. (2004). "Tom Petty: Album Guide". The Rolling Stone Album Guide. London: Fireside. ISBN 0-7432-0169-8. Retrieved 14 September 2011. 
  10. ^ "Billboard Don't Do Me Like That Chart Listings". Billboard. Retrieved 2009-05-01. [dead link]
  11. ^ "Billboard Refugee Chart Listings". Billboard. Retrieved 2009-05-01. [dead link]