Addicted To Vinyl Musical thoughts from the open road, with headphones on

20Oct/0917

Traveling on the Super Highway with Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers

I'll admit it - I've been holding something back from all of you, because for the past month, I've been on a secret road trip.  I've been on the road with Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers, traveling with the band on the maiden voyage of their Superhighway Tour.

Tom Petty - The Live Anthology

Supporting the release of the highly anticipated release of The Live Anthology in November, the Superhighway Tour is a unique first for both fans and the band.  There are no tour buses, no roadies, no security guards checking tickets at the door, and actually, all of the tour dates have for the Superhighway Tour have already past.

I am not alone on the road with Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers - the Superhighway experience affords the chance for both the Petty curious and the longtime Petty faithful to join the tour, and as a music fan, let me tell you that this might be the best ticket you'll ever purchase, especially in these times of rising concert ticket prices.

To travel with Petty on the Superhighway, all you need is $24.98 out of the the concert wallet, and a high speed internet connection.  For your dough, you'll gain admittance in the door for an advance preview of 24 of the 48 tracks from The Live Anthology, released several tracks at a time each week, leading up to the release of the box set.  Upon street date for The Live Anthology on November 24th, you'll receive access to download the rest of the remaining 24 tracks in the set.

We'll talk more about my Superhighway thoughts in a second, but I should probably detail what's in the The Live Anthology package first.

What's In The Box:

Here's where it gets tricky - as is the case with most box sets/anthology releases coming out these days, there are multiple versions of The Live Anthology available.  In my opinion, the choice is easy - you're going to want the deluxe version of The Live Anthology - an exclusive only available at Best Buy and TomPetty.com.

There are four configurations of The Live Anthology - here are details on each, from the official press-release mumbo-jumbo:

Standard Set (also available digitally at the usual places.)

48 tracks on 4 CDs plus booklet.

Deluxe Box Set- Available Only at Best Buy.

- 62 tracks on 5 CDs including 14 exclusive tracks on the 5th disc only available in the collector's deluxe box set.

- DVD of 400 Days, a previously unreleased documentary film by director Martyn Atkins, made during the 1995 Wildflowers Tour.

- DVD of previously unreleased New Years Eve 1978 Santa Monica, CA concert.

- Vinyl of the re-mastered 1976 Official Live 'Leg promo album.

- One Blu-ray disc of all 62 tracks in both stereo and surround sound. This high resolution Blu-ray is an audio only disc with basic song navigation and information displayed on the screen. The 96K 24-bit audio on the disc has 256 times more resolution than a CD providing greater detail and reproducing the music's full dynamic range, from the softest to the loudest sounds.

- Deluxe book with liner notes offering personal perspective by Tom Petty, Warren Zanes, Bill Flanagan, Robert Hilburn, Joel Selvin, Austin Scaggs, and Phil Sutcliffe.

- Lithograph reproduction of Shepard Fairey Cover Art (12" x 12" on high quality stock)

- Reproduction of 1997 twenty night Fillmore stand concert poster (8" x 12" on high quality stock)

- The Live Anthology notebook.

- Assorted authentic vintage backstage satin passes.

Vinyl Deluxe Box Set

- 51 tracks mastered directly from the uncompressed 24-bit 96K files and pressed on 7 180-gram audiophile quality vinyl LPs.

- Deluxe book with liner notes offering personal perspective on the band and their music by Tom Petty, Warren Zanes, Bill Flanagan, Robert Hilburn, Joel Selvin, Austin Scaggs, and Phil Sutcliffe.

Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers Superhighway Tour- A First-Of-Its-Kind Online-Only Music Experience

-  The entire 48 track Live Anthology delivered digitally via TomPettySuperHighwayTour.com.

- 24 tracks from The Live Anthology will be delivered over a period of 8 weeks prior to the album's release and the remaining 24 tracks will be delivered on the album's street date of November 24th.

- The first 24 tracks include an insider's online experience including new band commentary, archival memorabilia, vintage photos, videos, classic reviews from the shows, access to the Superhighway Tour merchandise booth with limited edition authentic t-shirts, and even more vintage material.

More Thoughts:

When word first started creeping out about a live box set release from Petty at the end of this past summer, I was excited to hear further details about the set.  Excitement turned to frustration upon the release of the initial press details about the set - there were plenty of details about all of the versions of this box set that would be available, but there was no track listing to be found - what gives?

And what about this Superhighway thing?  Why would I want to spend 25 bucks to pay for 48 tracks that I would inevitably be buying again with my purchase of the deluxe version?

I was a tad worried - the venues/tour dates they were mentioning as sources for the live material included a number of shows that I knew I already had in my collection - like Chicago in 2003 at the Vic Theatre, the famous "homecoming" show from Gainesville in 1993, and tracks from the Fillmore run, the closing night of which was broadcast live nationwide.

Was this set really going to be anything that I didn't already have?  Would it be mostly the familiar hits, peppered with the occasional safe and expected oddball track like "Fooled Again (I Don't Like It)"?  And for the Chicago tracks, how were they going to get rid of the Benmont Tench super fan that spends the entire broadcast yelling out "Yeah Ben!" in between songs?  Special props also to the guy at the Chicago show that spent the entire set chirping like a bird - thanks for that, buddy.

I was curious, heavily fueled by words on the set from Bob Lefsetz, who apparently was handed a watermarked copy of the full set nearly as soon as the initial box set details were released - a choice leak to one of the world's most passionate music fans.  And the "leak" worked, as Lefsetz predictably spiraled backwards in the time machine, gushing about the quality of the material on the set.  Knowing that Lefsetz would be the first person to call bullsh*t on this set if it sucked, I finally broke down.

I had to join the Superhighway tour, and what I found on the other side of the arena gate was very exciting.  "Nightwatchmen", from 1981's Hard Promises, was an immediate sign to me that The Live Anthology would be a set that would walk unafraid of living on the edge.   Besides the tracks each week, the Superhighway experience adds choice information about each track, the show that it comes from, and tidbits about that tour/era for the Heartbreakers.  There are audio soundbites of Petty and the Heartbreakers discussing each track, complete show setlist, relevant pictures with each post featuring pictures from the show, backstage moments and even photos of rarely seen items like the tape box for the recording of the show.

And since we're on tour, you know that there's also merch available - vintage merch reproductions!

Tom Petty

I'm hoping for a bit of merch from the Dogs With Wings tour, since I missed that one!

Oh concert regret, how I hate thee.

You can call the Superhighway experiment the most brilliant marketing campaign that I've seen in a long time.  Superhighway brings back something that you and I have forgotten about in these digital times where we have access to everything - Superhighway takes us all back to the days when we would anticipate an upcoming a release.  We return to the time of wondering what's going to be on that release, what the cover art is going to look like, and we can't wait to get our copy to listen to it, read the liner notes, and revel at how cool this release is that our favorite band just put out.

You'll recall the times that you got that new album, and went over to a friend's house to listen to it together, soaking in every bit for the first time with your best friend or friends - the only people that could possibly understand the moment that you were experiencing.

Now, I understand why they have been holding the track listing back - the element of surprise - we've forgotten it, and the Superhighway tour makes a winning attempt to bring that back.  In addition to the tracks being released each week on Superhighway, there also are daily track leaks via the Tom Petty Twitter feed - bit by bit, The Live Anthology is being revealed.

Here are some of the specific track details that have been announced so far:

1. "Even the Losers" 3/6/1980
2. "Nightwatchman" 6/28/1981
3. "A Woman In Love (It's Not Me)" 6/29/1981
4. "Straight Into Darkness" 12/7/1982
5. "Spike" 7/29/1986
6. "My Life/Your World" 6/23/1987
7. "Something in the Air" 11/4/1993
8. "Friend of the Devil" 2/3/1997
9. "Dreamville" 10/16/2002
10. "Angel Dream (No. 2)" 4/19/2003
11. "Crawling Back To You" 8/26/2005
12. "Learning To Fly" 6/16/2006
13. "I'm A Man" 9/21/2006
14. "Mystic Eyes" 10/27/2006
15. "Here Comes My Girl" 03/06/80
16. "I'm In Love" 12/07/82
17. "Breakdown" 06/30/81

I'm sharing each moment with my buddy Tony, who has quite a few more notches on his Petty concert belt than I do - after the Superhighway release of "Driving Down To Georgia" last week, he emailed me:

I saw him do "Driving Down To Georgia" at the Louisville Gardens one time, I wanna say it was the very first night of the Dogs with Wings tour, but I could be wrong on that part. Anyway the song was frickin' awesome, and when he'd get to the "look at them peaches hangin' on the tree" thing, he'd kinda hold his arms out to the side and up in the air kinda like a tree and hold the pose for a second or two.

I've had my own religious Petty concert experiences, and that's what made the prospects for this live set so enticing, if they could only get it right.

Friends, I am very happy to report that from what I've heard so far, they have indeed "gotten it right".  As pristine as some of the sources that I already had for these shows were - the Live Anthology versions sound better.  For those that lament the current "loudness wars", you'll be happy to hear that the waveforms look good on this one - they've left some breathing room, and everything sounds GREAT.

For many, the 4 CD version will be perfect, priced nicely at 20 bones.  For the rest of us, you know that we'll be ordering the deluxe version - which you can acquire for 99 bucks via the Tom Petty website as a Superhighway member.  The Superhighway membership adds $24.98 to the price, which still brings the overall price very close to the announced $119 pre-order price from Best Buy.

Mass kudos are deserved to all involved in the assembly, packaging, and marketing of The Live Anthology - this set is on track to be the best archival release from any band or artist in recent memory. Excited yet? You should be!

Related Links:

Tom Petty's official website

Join the Superhighway Tour

Purchase The Live Anthology from Amazon - CD and MP3

Purchase the deluxe edition from Best Buy

  • Matt

    Complete track listing from TomPetty.com!

    http://media.highwaycompanions.com/TheLiveAntho

  • anniezaleski

    what a great post. i really loved this.

  • Kevin

    Excellent overview Matt. At least Petty is trying to make the release more relevant and interesting than most others.

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  • http://iamfaster.org mike fabio

    For a little sneak peak of the Superhighway Tour, check out this video:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TYqFjhadTPE

  • Dan

    Sweet. Hey, Matt, feel like throwing up one of the TP shows you have? I'd love to hear anything, but for my part I loved the tour in the 80s … was it Southern Accents tour … with all the horns.

  • Dan

    Maybe one of the 12 Boots of Christmas will be a TP boot?

    Don't want to sound like I am begging, but it has worked in the past.

  • Matt

    I doubt it re: 12 Boots….but since you mention it, a particular Petty show
    does come to mind :-) Lemme see if I can dig it up….

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    It's Christmastime!

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    Dying to know where I can find the t-shirt shown above?

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  • Jean

    The Live Anthology – just read it – awesome book! Recommend it to everyone. Jean H. Blanc