The Live Anthology – Rolling Stone
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The Live Anthology

Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers’ only previous live album, 1986’s Pack Up the Plantation, was a stone bore: The note-for-note versions of “Refugee” and “American Girl” didn’t come close to capturing the excitement of a Petty show. The Live Anthology redresses that wrong with a panoramic picture of the Heartbreakers’ indestructible groove. Powerhouse versions of “Even the Losers” and “Here Comes My Girl” — stretching from as far back as 1980 — show off the band’s muscular snap. Guitarist Mike Campbell chimes his way through “The Waiting,” gives a Keith Richards twang to “Louisiana Rain,” and with keyboardist Benmont Tench helps prop up weaker songs like “My Life/Your World.” But it’s the covers that make this four-disc collection interesting to more than Petty completists: The Grateful Dead’s “Friend of the Devil” gets a down-home charge; “Diddy Wah Diddy” is a slinky winner; grooving instrumentals like Booker T. and the MG’s’ “Green Onions” and the James Bond Goldfinger theme (from a 1997 Fillmore show) display the band’s range; and a hungry take on Fleetwood Mac’s blues-era “Oh Well” (from the 2006 Bonnaroo festival) show the Heartbreakers’ roots. And if you are a Petty completist, you’ll have a wealth of choices: The collection comes in four other configurations, including a massive deluxe edition, which adds a fifth disc of music, two DVDs (a documentary and late-Seventies concert) and other fanboy bonuses.

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