The Live Anthology (2009)


 
Disc One 1. Ladies and Gentlemen 2. Nightwatchmen 3. Even the Losers 4. Here Comes My Girl 5. A Thing About You 6. I'm in Love 7. I'm a Man 8. Straight Into Darkness 9. Breakdown 10.Something in the Air 11.I Just Want To Make Love To You 12.Drivin' Down to Georgia 13.Lost Without You 14.Refugee Disc Two 1. Diddy Wah Diddy 2. I Want You Back 3. Wildflowers 4. Friend of the Devil 5. A Woman in Love (It's Not Me) 6. It's Good to Be King 7. Angel Dream (No.2) 8. Learning to Fly 9. Mary Jane's Last Dance 10.Mystic Eyes Disc Three 1. Jammin' Me 2. The Wild One Forever 3. Green Onions 4. Louisiana Rain 5. Melinda 6. Goldfinger 7. Surrender 8. Dreamville 9. Spike 10.Any Way You Want It 11.American Girl Disc Four 1. Runnin' Down a Dream 2. Oh Well 3. Southern Accents 4. Crawling Back to You 5. My Life/Your World 6. I Won't Back Down 7. Square One 8. Have Love Will Travel 9. Free Fallin' 10.The Waiting 11.Good, Good Lovin' 12.Century City 13.Alright for Now

 

I really really wanted to love this album. I thought, "a live album with 48 songs for only $19.99! What could possibly be wrong with that?". Well, a lot, sadly. Don't get me wrong, this is a great record by a great artist who is magnificent when performing live and it's long overdue. The problem really isn't what this is, but what it could have been.

One of the things that I never liked about Tom Petty when he performed live is that he played too much cover material. One cover or two in a two-hour set is bearable, but any more than that feels like you're cheating the audience when your own catalog has so many nuggets that your fans would rather hear. Roughly 25% of the songs here are covers, and if you were to grab a sheet of paper, you could easily come up with about twice as many original Petty classics that were left off this album to make room for all of this stuff that not that many people care about in the first place.

So when reviewing the material here that is his original material, it's safe to say that the music is great. Other than the fact that not every fan will like the tracks that were selected, he gives his music decent representation. He focuses a bit more on his older material, but it's all presented well. There are plenty of nice acoustic pieces throughout that allow for a nice change of pace as well.

You could probably say the same thing about the covers, the fact that everyone has their favorites etc. I have to honestly say that some of the covered material is great, some is good, but some is godawful. Why, for example, does he include the instrumental to the James Bond movie Goldfinger?? I mean, just how stoned was Petty when he selected the songs for an "anthology"?? Then he does a lot of songs that sound o.k., but don't belong here simply because there is nothing distinctive about how Petty covers the material. Yes, the Steve Cropper classic Green Onions sounds good, but when you've heard one version of Green Onions, you've heard them all.

There are several covers, that I confess, are quite welcome here. Van Morrison's Mystic Eyes is probably my favorite, even at nine minutes in length. He also plays a wicked cover of Peter Green's Oh Well, and Friend of the Devil shows just how much his music had in common with The Grateful Dead.

Well, with almost four hours of music, it's very easy to "make your own" live compilation with what's featured here, and since most people can only handle maybe 2 hours at a time, it's very easy to whittle away about half this album and still have a great collection. And remember, you did get this record fairly cheap. Had this been twice the price, I would have lowered my review score quite significantly. Sadly, he did release a "Best Buy Only" version with a fifth disc that was ungodly expensive. Glancing at the track list, it's about par for the course - you know, about half the songs are ones that you could deal without. So I never bought it. So, a great record, but it could have been so much better. So much better.

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