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Koch Vision presents
Soundstage: Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers (2004)

"No, I won't... back... down."
- Tom Petty

Review By: Jeff Rosado  
Published: January 18, 2005

Stars: Tom Petty, Mike Campbell, Bentmont Tench, Ron Blair
Other Stars: Steve Ferrone, Scott Thurston
Director: Joe Thomas

MPAA Rating: Not Rated for (nothing objectionable)
Run Time: 02h:09m:00s
Release Date: January 11, 2005
UPC: 741952624691
Genre: rock

Image Transfer
Audio Transfer
A+ A+AB+ B+

DVD Review

Growing up in the Florida town of Gainesville in the mid-1960s, then-budding rocker Tom Petty was influenced by a wide range of artists including The Rolling Stones, The Beatles, classic '50s-era guitarists (like Chuck Berry and Buddy Holly), and assorted slices of country, psychedelia, and garage band 45s.

2005 marks a very special milestone for the artist and his five musical compatriots, who together collectively form Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers. Thirty years ago, the guitarist reconnected with fellow Sunshine State natives Mike Campbell and Benmont Tench in what became a partial reunion of a past band dubbed Mudcrutch. Drummer Stan Lynch and bassist Rob Blair completed the new line-up, which didn't take long to land a recording contract with ABC Records subsidiary, Shelter. Success was a little bit later in arriving, though, and not without a lot of stress, including record company changeover and Petty's filing for bankruptcy.

In the two and half decades since, Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers have amassed a musical discography equal to that of their rock and roll heroes (with a recent induction into its Hall of Fame to boot). Soundstage: Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers is a terrific dual-disc set that archives a recent pair of appearances by the group on PBS's popular live concert program.

In a refreshing change of pace from most high profile television gigs, the group downplays an expected greatest hits repertoire in favor of notable album cuts, engaging, rollickingly delivered cover tunes and new material, that taken on a whole, is mostly successful. In the latter category, two fresh offerings find Petty's songwriting chops in top form (the Wild West overtone of Melinda; Black Leather Woman, a classic Heartbreakers rave-up in the tradition of American Girl) while fans favoring the less appreciated cuts from terrific albums like Echo, The Last D.J., and Wildflowers will be happy to find the likes of Angel Dream, Crawling Back to You, and Lost Children amongst the set lists.

But it's the dips into the songbooks of Howlin' Wolf, J.J. Cale, and Ray Charles that offer the biggest satisfaction and most pleasant surprises (an Elvis-like run through I Got a Woman; the blues standard Little Red Rooster, featuring some excellent glass side work from Campbell; a downbeat Thirteen Days that sounds as though Cale conceived it with Petty's sneering vocals in mind. Still, some of you request shouters just won't be satisfied until you have a couple of hits in the mix, right? For you, I Won't Back Down, You Wreck Me, and a masterful Refugee (with yet another phenomenal piece of riffing from Campbell, one of rock's most underappreciated musicians).

Rating for Style: A+
Rating for Substance: A+


Image Transfer

Aspect Ratio1.33:1 - Widescreen
Original Aspect Ratioyes

Image Transfer Review: When even audience members are shot well, nicely lighted and exhibited with superb clarity, we're talking top of the heap. Let me disperse with generic superlatives for once. Simply put, excellent. Still, I have to dock it a notch for not being 16:9.

Image Transfer Grade: A


Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
DS 2.0Englishyes
Dolby Digital

Audio Transfer Review: A solid if somewhat unspectacular 5.1 mix, mainly front heavy with very limited activity in the surrounds, which are mainly relegated to applause (and even that is more upfront). Nice bottom end, too.

Audio Transfer Grade: B+


Disc Extras

Full Motion menu with music
Music/Song Access with 22 cues and remote access
Packaging: Keep Case
Picture Disc
2 Discs
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: single

Extra Extras:
  1. Eight Additional Performances
  2. Photo Gallery (18)
  3. Discography/The Band
  4. Backstage Pass
  5. Text Biography/Interview
Extras Review: Most extras appearing on Soundstage DVD releases thus far have been so minor as to be laughable (the so-called "Interview" with Petty consists of a mere two quotes in text; I've read more post-game comments from a high school football coach in the local paper), but on this two-disc set, they've come up with one bonus section well worth commenting on.

No less than eight additional performances are contained on Disc 2, with six of those coming from the series' cutting room floor, including fun covers of Buddy Holly's Not Fade Away, and The Rolling Stones' Down Home Girl; a killer version of Petty's Yer So Bad (from the classic Full Moon Fever album) and the underrated Heartbreaker's track Walls (from the She's the One soundtrack). The remaining bonus tracks come from Petty's recently released DVD of The Last D.J.: Live at the Olympic (which the bandleader must still be trying to peddle; first came the album of the same name, then the live DVD companion, and now these samplings. Maybe he's got a surplus of compact discs in the attic to get rid of... a shame, because D.J. is a terrific piece of work).

It's ho-hum, twiddle your thumbs as far as the rest of the supplements: a photo-gallery of 18 freeze-frame shots from the show; a Meet The Band section with very little insight; Backstage Pass consists of nothing but tech-mumbo jumbo on the production techniques for the program; and a complete discography.

Extras Grade: B+


Final Comments

Soundstage: Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers finds one of rock's most entertaining, dependable and just plain rockin' bands in top form. Highly recommended.


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