A Real Heartbreaker: When Did Tom Petty Become So...Petty?

Tom Petty circa 1981
Are we the only ones who find the price tag ($260 US Dollars, baby) for Petty's new The Complete Studio Albums Volume 2 (1994-2014) on 180 gram vinyl a tad excessive? This is the same great American bad-ass who went toe-to-toe with his record company to make sure his new album at the time (Hard Promises) would not be the much-anticipated album that the label used to introduce new higher pricing on all albums.

This writer has been an ardent follower of Petty's work since boyhood and those principles and convictions that led him to take a stand against "the man" on more than one occasion, then have the biggest hit of his career singing about it (loosely, of course) on "I Won't Back Down", have been a benchmark of sorts for many of us watching how he not only looked out for himself, but for us, too.

Seeing him go after Sam Smith for writing credit and royalties to "Stay With Me" was a move I did not personally agree with due to both songs simply relying upon a familiar use of descending scales.

As explained in great detail by music blogger Michael Cochran (LINK), Smith's "Stay With Me" and Petty's "I Won't Back Down" merely employ the same use of two descending patterns, la-sol-mi, mi do do. If Petty was going after Smith, why not also go after Ed Sheeran for "Thinking Out Loud", to say nothing of Dylan going after Petty for ripping off "Blowin' In The Wind" in the first place.

Back to the box set, with a list price of $260, the fact that it includes 12 180 gram vinyl albums sounds like a great deal, right? Keep in mind that this includes two sides with no audio, but some nifty laser etching. That still breaks down to just over $20 per slice of vinyl, which is waaaay more than this fan paid for the original releases on CD at full price the day they came out.

Sure, you can hope you just happen to take a short-cut through Barnes & Nobles on a day when they just so happen to be pricing this shit to move, but that doesn't exactly award the die-hard fans who get stuck paying top dollar because they're the sort of completists who insist on supporting their heroes by grabbing new releases the day they come out.

Basically, Petty and his label are asking the fans to pay $20 each for titles these fans already own. Keep in mind this box set includes the portion of Petty's discography where he freely admits (in Warren Zanes' recent biography, at least) to being gacked out of his gourd.

Albums included in this box set:

The Last DJ
She's The One
Highway Companion
Hypnotic Eye

Admittedly, Echo is a gem, but it's also not everybody's cup of tea. Wildflowers is the last good/great Petty made. Oh, and She's The One is completely overrated. The rest is stuff you'll never listen to because you already know it's half-baked jam band nonsense.

Will this fan be buying? At $260, no.

At $150, maybe.

$99? Yes, I'll take two, thank you.

Truth be told, the very fans who comprise the key demographic for this box set and are happy to pay full price are the ones who, by now, deserve a free autographed copy of this ginormous box set delivered to their front door by Petty himself on Christmas morning after having supported the rock star's recent cash-grabs.

What cash-grabs, you ask?

Let's see, there was the Peter Bogdanovich career-spanning documentary movie that we bought on all available formats, then the coffee table book from said movie as well as Paul Zollo's "Conversations With Tom Petty", and then we nabbed Highway Companion the day it came out, only to have to buy it again when Petty slid the deluxe edition under the door six months later (so sneaky, Tom), all the while supporting the Mudcrutch albums and tours as well as every summer's Heartbreakers stadium tour because you never know when the last one might be.

All things considered, it's starting to feel a bit much.

We're talking "lawn seats on this summer's Petty tour" bad.

Superior St. Rehearsal Facility

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