25 September 2023

An American Treasure

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Reviewed by Ian Phillips.

By Tom Petty, Reprise Records 2018.

An American Treasure is a career spanning box set of Tom Petty songs which was released on 28 September.

The 60-track collection is quite different from most memorial collections in that it includes dozens of previously unreleased recordings, alternative versions rarities, historic live performances and other curios.

It is the first release of Tom Petty music since his untimely death in October 2017.

The first single, Keep A Little Soul, is a previously unreleased track from the 1982 sessions that produced Tom Petty And The Heartbreakers’ classic album Long After Dark.

The video features rare, never seen before, footage of the band now.

The whole box set was commissioned and created by Tom’s daughter Adria Petty and his wife Dana Petty.

The two of them are the executive producers and, together with Tom’s bandmates of 45 years, Mike Campbell and Benmont Tench, and his long time studio collaborator Ryan Ulyate, they have curated the box set’s track list.

Tom, like many artists, produced a substantial body of work including a wealth of unreleased music in his vaults and this major collection has apparently only just scratched the surface of the hidden gems that have yet to see the light of day.

The 25-track selection from the box set that I received is fantastic.

It includes live versions of some of his best known songs and an intriguing selection of previously unreleased tracks.

It is the quality of the unreleased tracks that is most surprising.

Many of these songs didn’t make the albums of the day but they are surprisingly good so it must have been for artistic decisions that had nothing to do with the recorded quality of the tracks.

It’s also great to hear the band in rehearsal.

You can sense their energy and enthusiasm.

I’ve always liked Tom Petty’s music but I’m not a committed fan who has collected everything.

This selection has whetted my appetite. There is a lot in there to discover.

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