Damn the Torpedoes (album)

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Damn the Torpedoes
Studio album by
ReleasedOctober 19, 1979 (1979-10-19)
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
  4. "Even the Losers"
    Released: July 1980 (Australia only)

Damn the Torpedoes is the third studio album by Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, released on October 19, 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 reached No. 2 on the Billboard 200 chart.[1] The album went on to become certified triple platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA).

In 2003, the album was ranked number 313 on Rolling Stone magazine's list of the "500 Greatest Albums of All Time",[2] and 231 in a 2020 revised list.[3]

Background and recording[edit]

Petty's recording contract was assigned to MCA when his distributor ABC Records was sold to MCA in 1979. Petty contended that his contract could not be assigned to another record company without his permission and was therefore voided. MCA responded by suing Petty for breach of contract which prompted him to declare bankruptcy as a tactic to void his contract with MCA.[4] The matter was settled with Petty signing a new recording contract with Backstreet Records, an MCA subsidiary label. The album, co-produced by Jimmy Iovine, was recorded at Sound City Studios in Van Nuys and Cherokee Studios in Hollywood.[5] The title is a reference to a famous quote by Admiral David Farragut: "Damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead!".

Release and reception[edit]

Professional ratings
Review scores
Chicago Tribune[7]
Christgau's Record GuideB+[8]
The Encyclopedia of Popular Music[9]
The Essential Rock Discography8/10[10]
MusicHound Rock[11]
Music Story[citation needed]
Rolling Stone[13]
The Rolling Stone Album Guide[14]

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] Tom Petty's response to Westwood One about being anchored at #2 was "I love Pink Floyd but I hated them that year." 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).[15][16] Thanks to the new co-producer Jimmy Iovine, Damn the Torpedoes proved to be a major leap forward in production.[6]

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."[17] Village Voice critic Robert Christgau said, "This is a breakthrough for Petty because for the first time the Heartbreakers ... are rocking as powerfully as he's writing. But whether Petty has any need to rock out beyond the sheer doing of it—whether he has anything to say—remains shrouded in banality. Thus he establishes himself as the perfect rock and roller for those who want good—very good, because Petty really knows his stuff—rock and roll that can be forgotten as soon as the record or the concert is over, rock and roll that won't disturb your sleep, your conscience, or your precious bodily rhythms."[8]

Subsequent appraisals have remained positive, with AllMusic's Stephen Thomas Erlewine regarding it as "one of the great records of the album rock era".[6] Rolling Stone placing it at number 313 on "The 500 Greatest Albums of All Time" list in 2003,[2] the list's 2012 edition had it ranked 315th,[18] and the 2020 edition ranked it at number 231.[19] In 2000 it was voted number 537 in Colin Larkin's All Time Top 1000 Albums.[20]


The album was digitally remastered by Joe Gastwirt and reissued in 2001 on HDCD.

On November 9, 2010, a deluxe edition of the album was released on three formats, a 2×CD set, a 2×LP (180 g) deluxe package and a Blu-ray Audio disc package. Digital download available in numerous audio codecs in audiophile quality 96 kHz/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.[21]

Track listing[edit]

All tracks written by Tom Petty, except where noted.

Side one
1."Refugee"Tom Petty, Mike Campbell3:22
2."Here Comes My Girl"Petty, Campbell4:27
3."Even the Losers" 3:59
4."Shadow of a Doubt (A Complex Kid)" 4:25
5."Century City" 3:45
Side two
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
Total length:36:38
Bonus Edition Disc 2
1."Nowhere" 3:38
2."Surrender" 3:26
3."Casa Dega" (B-side from "Don't Do Me Like That" single)Petty, Campbell3:36
4."It's Rainin' Again" (B-side from "Refugee" single) 1:31
5."Shadow of a Doubt (A Complex Kid)" (Live at the Hammersmith Odeon, London, 1980) 4:42
6."Don't Do Me Like That" (Live at the Hammersmith Odeon, London, 1980) 2:49
7."Somethin' Else" (Live at the Hammersmith Odeon, London, 1980)Sharon Sheeley, Bob Cochran2:28
8."Casa Dega (Demo)"Petty, Campbell3:33
9."Refugee (Alternate Take)"Petty, Campbell4:32
Total length:30:15


The Heartbreakers

Session musicians


  • Jimmy Iovine – 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


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

Charts and certifications[edit]


Certifications for Damn the Torpedoes
Region Certification Certified units/sales
Canada (Music Canada)[30] 2× Platinum 200,000^
United States (RIAA)[31] 3× Platinum 3,000,000^

^ Shipments figures based on certification alone.


  1. ^ a b Damn The Torpedoes – Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers > Charts & Awards > Billboard Albums at AllMusic. Retrieved May 1, 2009.
  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. Archived from the original on October 28, 2011. Retrieved February 26, 2006.
  3. ^ "The 500 Greatest Albums of All Time". Rolling Stone. September 22, 2020. Retrieved March 12, 2021.
  4. ^ Tom Petty, Runnin' Down a Dream, 2007 documentary, @1:08:00.
  5. ^ "Sound City Studio's Client List". Sound City Studios. Archived from the original on December 18, 2022. Retrieved April 5, 2014.
  6. ^ a b c Erlewine, Stephen Thomas. Damn the Torpedoes at AllMusic. Retrieved November 8, 2005.
  7. ^ Kot, Greg (September 1, 1991). "Through The Years With Tom Petty". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved April 4, 2014.
  8. ^ a b Christgau, Robert (1981). "Consumer Guide '70s: P". Christgau's Record Guide: Rock Albums of the Seventies. Ticknor & Fields. ISBN 089919026X. Retrieved March 10, 2019 – via robertchristgau.com.
  9. ^ Larkin, Colin, ed. (2011). The Encyclopedia of Popular Music (5th edn). London: Omnibus Press. p. 2005. ISBN 978-0-85712-595-8.
  10. ^ Strong, Martin C. (2006). The Essential Rock Discography. Edinburgh, UK: Canongate. p. 816. ISBN 978-1-84195-827-9.
  11. ^ Graff, Gary; Durchholz, Daniel, eds. (1999). MusicHound Rock: The Essential Album Guide. Farmington Hills, MI: Visible Ink Press. p. 870. ISBN 1-57859-061-2.
  12. ^ Harvey, Eric (October 10, 2017). "Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers: Damn the Torpedoes". Pitchfork. Retrieved January 22, 2018.
  13. ^ Zanes, Warren (September 16, 2004). "The Rolling Stone Hall of Fame: The Greatest Albums Ever Made Damn the Torpedoes > Album Review". Rolling Stone. No. 957. p. 83. Retrieved August 7, 2007.
  14. ^ Brackett, Nathan; Hoard, Christian, eds. (2004). "Tom Petty: Album Guide". The Rolling Stone Album Guide. London: Fireside. ISBN 0-7432-0169-8. Archived from the original on July 14, 2011. Retrieved September 14, 2011.
  15. ^ "Billboard Don't Do Me Like That Chart Listings". Billboard. Archived from the original on October 4, 2013. Retrieved May 1, 2009.
  16. ^ "Billboard Refugee Chart Listings". Billboard. Archived from the original on October 4, 2013. Retrieved May 1, 2009.
  17. ^ Swartley, Ariel (December 13, 1979). "Damn The Torpedoes". Rolling Stone. No. 306. Retrieved September 14, 2011.
  18. ^ "500 Greatest Albums of All Time Rolling Stone's definitive list of the 500 greatest albums of all time". Rolling Stone. 2012.
  19. ^ "The 500 Greatest Albums of All Time". Rolling Stone. September 22, 2020. Retrieved August 26, 2021.
  20. ^ Larkin, Colin (2000). All Time Top 1000 Albums (3rd ed.). Virgin Books. p. 185. ISBN 0-7535-0493-6.
  21. ^ "Damn The Torpedoes - Expanded and Remastered Deluxe Edition Coming November 9 - TomPetty.com Official Blog". TomPetty.com Official Website. Retrieved March 28, 2019.
  22. ^ a b Kent, David (1993). Australian Chart Book 1970–1992. St Ives, N.S.W.: Australian Chart Book. ISBN 0-646-11917-6.
  23. ^ "Top Albums/CDs – Volume 33, No. 1". RPM. March 29, 1980. Archived from the original (PHP) on May 2, 2014. Retrieved May 1, 2014.
  24. ^ "dutchcharts.nl Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers – Damn the Torpedoes". Dutchcharts.nl (in Dutch). MegaCharts. Archived from the original on May 12, 2014. Retrieved May 1, 2014.
  25. ^ "charts.nz — Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers – Damn the Torpedoes". Recording Industry Association of New Zealand. Retrieved May 1, 2014.
  26. ^ "Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers: Artist: Official Charts". UK Albums Chart. Retrieved April 8, 2014.
  27. ^ "Allmusic: Damn the Torpedoes : Charts & Awards : Billboard Albums". allmusic.com. Retrieved March 1, 2014.
  28. ^ "Top Selling Albums of 1980 — The Official New Zealand Music Chart". Recorded Music New Zealand. Retrieved January 28, 2022.
  29. ^ "Number One Awards - Pop Albums". Billboard. December 20, 1980.
  30. ^ "Canadian album certifications – Tom Petty – Damn the Torpedoes". Music Canada.
  31. ^ "American album certifications – Tom Petty – Damn the Torpedoes". Recording Industry Association of America.