What can best be described as their version of Bruce Springsteen’s Live 1975 – 1985, Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers have released a career retrospective live box set appropriately titled, The Live Anthology. This collection was a long time in the making but should satiate Petty fans hungry for a live release since Pack Up The Plantation.
The first thing I noticed about this box set was the price. 4 discs of live material for $20? That’s a steal! It’s almost a no-brainer to purchase this set and add it to your collection. That being said, The Live Anthology is not without some faults, most notably in the song selection, or more importantly, the songs that were not included.
Considering this is a live career retrospective, it’s pure blasphemy that not one song from Echo was on this set. Echo is one of the Heartbreaker’s finest works ever (although you could make a strong argument for Damn The Torpedoes) and to not include a single song from that release is borderline criminal. Especially when considering that the less than stellar Wildflowers has multiple contributions.
Other notable songs missing include You Don’t Know How It Feels, Don’t Come Around Here No More, Rebel, You Got Lucky, and Walls.
On the plus side, the band’s version of the Grateful Dead classic Friend Of The Devil is a nice touch. The stripped down acoustic version of I Won’t Back Down is a dream come true. Spike, Here Comes My Girl, Have Love Will Travel, and Free Fallin’ are exceptional additions that sound spectacular in their live setting.
Arranged to produce the atmosphere of a Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers concert, The Live Anthology hits the mark in giving the feel of a live Heartbreakers event. Only the best performances of each song were captured for immortality with several cuts coming from legendary 1981 concert performances when the band was at their peak of perfection. If one can forgive the aforementioned missing key tracks, then this set will go down as a must own collector’s piece. Taken as what it is The Live Anthology delivers hours of live Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers, including the raw power and energy of rocking cuts intertwined with seamlessly with the intimate, acoustic tracks. This is Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers at their finest.
If you have any money left over from the holidays and you didn’t receive this as a gift, treat yourself. You’ll be glad that you did and you’ll be adding hours of exceptional live entertainment to your record collection.