Damn the Torpedoes (album)

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Damn the Torpedoes
Studio album by
ReleasedOctober 19, 1979 (1979-10-19)
StudioSound City, Van Nuys
Cherokee Studios, Hollywood
LabelBackstreet, MCA, Geffen, UMe
ProducerJimmy 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
  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 20, 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 #2 on the Billboard album 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]

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.[3] 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.[4] 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
AllMusic5/5 stars[5]
Chicago Tribune3/4 stars[6]
Robert ChristgauB+[7]
Encyclopedia of Popular Music4/5 stars[8]
The Essential Rock Discography8/10[9]
Music Story5/5 stars[11]
Rolling Stone5/5 stars[13]
The Rolling Stone Album Guide3.5/5 stars[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] 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.[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."[17] 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 (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.[citation needed]

Track listing[edit]

Side one
1."Refugee"Tom Petty, Mike Campbell3:22
2."Here Comes My Girl"Petty, Campbell4:27
3."Even the Losers"Petty3:59
4."Shadow of a Doubt (A Complex Kid)"Petty4:25
5."Century City"Petty3:45
Side two
6."Don't Do Me Like That"Petty2:44
7."You Tell Me"Petty4:35
8."What Are You Doin' in My Life?"Petty3:27
9."Louisiana Rain"Petty5:54
Total length:36:38
Bonus Edition Disc 2
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)Petty1:31
5."Shadow of a Doubt (A Complex Kid)" (Live at the Hammersmith Odeon, London, 1980)Petty4:42
6."Don't Do Me Like That" (Live at the Hammersmith Odeon, London, 1980)Petty2:49
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



Region Certification Certified units/Sales
Canada (Music Canada)[25] 2× Platinum 200,000^
United States (RIAA)[26] 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 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 at AllMusic. Retrieved 8 November 2005.
  6. ^ Kot, Greg (1991-09-01). "Through The Years With Tom Petty". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved 2014-04-04.
  7. ^ Christgau, Robert. "CG: Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers". Robert Christgau. Retrieved 26 February 2006.
  8. ^ Larkin, Colin (ed.) (2011). The Encyclopedia of Popular Music (5th edn). London: Omnibus Press. p. 2005. ISBN 978-0-85712-595-8.CS1 maint: Extra text: authors list (link)
  9. ^ Strong, Martin C. (2006). The Essential Rock Discography. Edinburgh, UK: Canongate. p. 816. ISBN 978-1-84195-827-9.
  10. ^ 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.CS1 maint: Extra text: authors list (link)
  11. ^ "Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers Damn the Torpedoes". Acclaimed Music. Retrieved November 4, 2017.
  12. ^ Harvey, Eric (10 October 2017). "Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers: Damn the Torpedoes". Pitchfork. Retrieved 22 January 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 7 August 2007.
  14. ^ 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.
  15. ^ "Billboard Don't Do Me Like That Chart Listings". Billboard. Archived from the original on October 4, 2013. Retrieved 2009-05-01.
  16. ^ "Billboard Refugee Chart Listings". Billboard. Archived from the original on October 4, 2013. Retrieved 2009-05-01.
  17. ^ Swartley, Ariel (December 13, 1979). "Damn The Torpedoes". Rolling Stone (306). Retrieved 14 September 2011.
  18. ^ a b Kent, David (1993). Australian Chart Book 1970–1992. St Ives, N.S.W.: Australian Chart Book. ISBN 0-646-11917-6.
  19. ^ "Top Albums/CDs – Volume 33, No. 1" (PHP). RPM. 1980-03-29. Retrieved 2014-05-01.
  20. ^ "dutchcharts.nl Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers – Damn the Torpedoes". Dutchcharts.nl (in Dutch). MegaCharts. Archived from the original on 2014-05-12. Retrieved 2014-05-01.
  21. ^ "Charts.org.nz — Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers – Damn the Torpedoes". Recording Industry Association of New Zealand. Archived from the original on 2014-04-21. Retrieved 2014-05-01.
  22. ^ "Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers: Artist: Official Charts". UK Albums Chart. Retrieved 2014-04-08.
  23. ^ "Allmusic: Damn the Torpedoes : Charts & Awards : Billboard Albums". allmusic.com. Retrieved 2014-03-01.
  24. ^ Nielsen Business Media, Inc (1980-12-20). Billboard.com – Year End Charts – Year-end Albums – The Billboard 200.
  25. ^ "Canadian album certifications – Tom Petty – Damn the Torpedoes". Music Canada.
  26. ^ "American album certifications – Tom Petty – Damn the Torpedoes". Recording Industry Association of America. If necessary, click Advanced, then click Format, then select Album, then click SEARCH.