Pack Up the Plantation: Live! (1986)


 
1. So You Want to Be a Rock & Roll Star 2. Needles and Pins 3. The Waiting 4. Breakdown 5. American Girl 6. It Ain't Nothin' To Me 7. Insider 8. Rockin' Around (With You) 9. Refugee 10.Southern Accents 11.Rebels 12.Don't Bring Me Down 13.Shout 14.Stories We Could Tell

 

Of all of the times for Tom Petty to have released a live album, I really wished he would have picked any other tour that his current one. The Southern Accents album was met with various degrees of praise and criticism, but the one thing thatwas consistent in its evaluation, was that the album was different. Mainly was the fact that he incorporated so many new textures and instruments into the mix - mainly brass sections. Therefore, when we hear a live replica of the tour we have a bit too much of what should be a very simple show done by a very simple, but brilliant performer.

So this is an album of "too much". There is too much horns, too much new material, too much Stevie Nicks and, too much material that he covers from other artists, which ultimately means we get less Tom Petty songs. Sadly the album gets off to a horrendous start with the first two songs that very few would recognize, and even fewer would appreciate. Not surprisingly, it's the older songs in his catalog that are the most warmly received by the crowd, and sound the best here, but when you do the math, you only get a total of six. Only six familiar Tom Petty tunes on a double live album. Not good.

As mentioned before, he feels obligated to add horns to many of those songs, so they sound o.k. on the newer Rebels, since they were there in the first place, but they really have no place on a song such as Refugee. It may have been o.k. if you were actually at the show, but as a live souvenir, you wish the songs would have been more authentic.

The most powerful part of the album is the very end. The last three songs are delivered in a very strong, convincing form. Sadly, there all covers - which is a little disheartening when these were the best the whole album has to offer. That would lead someone to wonder if that's why Petty flooded his shows with covers (he still does), but I refuse to believe that his own material should take a back seat - even if this record might suggest otherwise.

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