If you’re a Tom Petty fan, we know what’s on your Christmas list: a copy of Petty & the Heartbreakers’ Live Anthology, an epic four-CD set combing the best from three decades’ worth of live tapes (Some of us diehards have even shelled out for the deluxe, expensive version with a fifth CD and loads of extras - mine should be here any day now).
The set has a total of 47 songs, and there was no way we could boil that down to just a three-pack. So here’s a half-dozen tracks that you can play together as a Petty mini-concert. The box set’s tracklist is all over the map - there are hits, surprise covers, and rare album tracks - but we’ve gone mainly for hits in our package. “Here Comes My Girl” and “Even The Losers” were both recorded when those classic songs were brand new: both come from London’s Hammersmith Odeon in March 1980, just a few months after the studio versions were released. Those songs first appeared on Damn the Torpedoes, the same album that opened with the megahit “Refugee” - the live version is from 1983 (Irvine Meadows in California), after the song had made Petty a superstar. Also from 1983 (San Francisco’s Cow Palace) is “American Girl,” a song that goes back to the Heartbreakers’ earliest days and debuted on their first album. Note the classically twangy Mike Campbell guitar lead.
The only song in our package that wasn’t originally a hit single, “A Thing About You,” was a key track in the Hard Promises album and appears here in a version from the Los Angeles Forum in 1981, catching the Heartbreakers in revved-up garage-band mode. Finally, “Mary Jane’s Last Dance” - originally a hit in 1994 - is one of the newest recordings in the box, recorded September 2006 in Petty’s hometown of Gainesville, FL. Seems fitting that Petty should go back home to record a song about the end of a small town romance.