Second Tom Petty Posthumous Album Out

Career-spanning compilation features hits and two previously unreleased recordings

The title pretty much says it all. The Best Of Everything is a compilation of Tom Petty’s amazing music from his 40 years as a recording artist, largely focusing on his better known songs. Released yesterday, it’s billed as his first career-spanning collection of hits. Unlike last September’s An American Treasure, the 38 tracks for the most part were taken from past albums. There are two exceptions: For Real, a previously unreleased tune, and an alternate version of the title track that restores a lost second verse.

While to a longtime Tom Petty fan like myself it’s not exactly news what an outstanding songwriter he was, it’s still impressive when you see the track listing. Free Fallin’, Mary Jane’s Last DanceSaving Grace, Breakdown, Refugee, American GirlThe Last DJRunnin’ Down A Dream and Even The Losers, to name some of the gems, surely make for a beautiful collection. While I would say American Treasure is more for die-hard Tom Petty fans, The Best Of Everything is a terrific compilation for folks who know just a few songs and would like to further explore his music beyond the fantastic first Greatest Hits mid-career collection from November 1993.

Tom Petty_The Best Of Everything Collage
Released via Geffen Records/UMe, The Best Of Everything is available as a 2-CD or 4-LP set

To make it truly career-spanning, it would have been nice to include a couple of tunes from The Traveling Wilburys. Sure, it’s fair to note the supergroup wasn’t Petty’s band. The Wilburys were primarily initiated by George Harrison and Jeff Lynne, and their songs were credited to all members. Unlike Mudcrutch and Petty’s solo albums, Mike Campbell and Benmont Tench, who helped put together The Best Of Everything and last year’s compilation, had no involvement with the Wilburys. There may also have been legal reasons for keeping the supergroup’s material out. Still, adding two tunes featuring Charlie T. Wilbur Junior on lead vocals would have been cool, in my humble opinion!

Let’s get to some music. I deliberately skip the big hits. The track order seems to be a bit random. Perhaps part of the idea here was to spread the bigger hits throughout to keep the more casual Tom Petty fans engaged. The number of YouTube clips from The Best Of Everything is still limited, so I’m borrowing clips from the original albums, as needed. The first tune I’d like to call out is Dreamville from The Last DJ, the 11th studio album by Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, released in October 2002. I’m glad they included this beautiful ballad, which definitely is not among Petty’s big hits.

I Should Have Known It is a nice rocker with a great guitar riff – my kind of song! Perhaps not surprisingly Campbell was a co-writer for this guitar player type of tune, which appeared on the band’s 12th studio record Mojo from June 2010. “I was glad that was on there, because I’m really proud of that track and that performance,” Campbell noted during an interview with Variety, conducted together with Tench and Petty’s eldest daughter Adria Petty, who was also involved in assembling the collection. “It showed a band in their later development still doing quality music.” Listen for yourself!

Next up: The alternate version of The Best Of Everything, another great tune! Originally, Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers recorded it for their sixth studio album Southern Accents, which came out in March 1985. Even though I own that record on CD, frankly, I had forgotten about the song.

Scare Easy is a track from the first Mudcrutch album simply titled Mudcrutch, which appeared in April 2008. Initially formed in Gainesville, Fla. in 1970, Mudcrutch was the predecessor to The Heartbreakers. After recording some demos and releasing one single that failed to chart, Mudcrutch broke up in 1975. It’s kind of remarkable they lasted for more than four years. Then, in August 2007, Petty reunited the band. In addition to Campbell (guitar, mandolin) and Tench (keyboards), the lineup featured the other two original members Randall Marsh (drums) and Tom Leadon (guitar), with Petty on bass and lead vocals.

The last tune I’d like to call out is For Real. This previously unreleased song also wasn’t available on any bootlegs, so until it came out as a single a few weeks ago, it’s something even fans hadn’t heard before. According to Rolling Stone, the track was recorded in August 2000 and is “a declaration of purpose” by Petty. “That song to me sounds like Tom reporting from his heart — reporting from the front,” Tench told Variety during the above interview. “It may sound like it’s meant to be a summing up of a career or something, but it’s not, really, because it’s almost 20 years old. We weren’t quite as long-in-tooth and gray then.” I think Tench is right, though it’s the perfect tune to close out the collection.

“When I went back through all this stuff… I don’t want to get heavy with it, but it’s very emotional, in being nostalgic, because we were never nostalgic when we were working,” Campbell told Variety. “We never looked back. We just always were looking forward. But Ben and I were forced to look back as we went through this stuff, and we both had an epiphany about how we have a legacy that has integrity. We were sad, but also very proud of what we’ve done.” Who can blame them.

Added Adria Petty: “I feel like Ben and Mike haven’t had a second to process this, what the next chapter can be, and I think for us, it’s kind of the same. Ben had a baby for the first time six or seven weeks after my dad died, and he’s been deeply in love and entrenched in that. It’s a really horrible thing to have to process both things at the same time, so he probably finally has a little space to just focus on that. Mike’s going to be on the road with Fleetwood Mac through April. He had his first grandchild right after Dad died. There’s a third generation of Heartbreaker kids coming in that are all amazing.”

Benmont Tench & Mike Campbell
Benmont Tench (l) and Mike Campbell, August 2018

So after two major compilations, what else might be in store or in the vault I should perhaps better ask. “There a bunch of really great stuff,” Tench told Billboard. He noted early Mudcrutch recordings, demos from The Last DJ and music from the period of Hypnotic Eye, the final studio album by Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers from July 2014.

Campbell would like to explore a live album from the band’s shows at the Fillmore from 1997 to 1999, he explained to Rolling Stone. “For me, that was almost the pinnacle of the band just being totally spontaneous night to night to night. We might throw in a Grateful Dead song that we just learned that afternoon. We recorded every show and we had guest artists from Bo Diddley to Roger McGuinn to John Lee Hooker. And I know, in my memory of those 20 nights, there’s an amazing album in there.” That surely sounds like a great idea to me!

However, both Tench and Campbell want to be mindful about further releases to make sure the quality is right and Petty would have wanted to release the material. Adria Petty agrees. “I don’t want to inundate the fans with “Hey, here’s another record!”,” she told Variety. That’s a good thing!

Sources: Wikipedia, Tom Petty official website, Variety, Rolling Stone, Billboard, YouTube

17 thoughts on “Second Tom Petty Posthumous Album Out”

    1. Frankly, I had to look that one up. It’s on YouTube.

      While it seems Petty’s family, Mike Campbell and Benmont Tench want to be thoughtful about additional releases from the vault, which is a good thing, I’ve no doubt we’ll see more posthumous material, which perhaps is going to include that song.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. The new compilation is largely a greatest hits collection. Almost all of the material was previously released. “An American Treasure” focuses on previously unreleased material, including alternate takes, deep cuts and live versions.

      As such, I would say the new release is for the casual Tom Petty fan, who knows and likes a few of his songs and wants to know more, whereas last year’s box primarily is for die-hard fans.

      I would consider myself to fall in-between these two groups closer to the die-hard fans – but not close enough to buy the box set, especially given I have access to it through my streaming music service.:-)

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      1. I know, it’s really hard. You want to see them when you can, but it’s impossible to see everybody. That’s part of the reason why I decided to get tickets for The Who and The Stones but skip John Mellencamp.

        I saw Mellencamp in July 2017, and based on setlists, the current tour looks very similar to what it was in 2017. Plus at 67, he’s not as old, though I’m a bit concerned about his chain-smoking habit!

        Daltrey, on the other hand, just turned 75. More importantly, he has said more than once that touring is getting harder and that the moment he realizes he can no longer perform at high quality he’s going to stop. Sure, saying it is different from actually following through. Still…

        By the time of The Stones’ show, Charlie Watts is going to be 78. I’m most concerned about him. He looks really fragile to me, so who knows how long he is going to be able to continue banging the drums. I would hate to miss the last opportunity to see one of my all-time favorite bands.

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      2. I was going to see Queen but good tix would have pushed it over $1,000. If I’m going I want good seats. But this is over the top. Aerosmith are playing 4 shows in Springfield, MA and the seats way in back, last row are $275. Enough. Done. These guys are just scalping us now. Minus Bruce coming back, the Stones show this year may be my last major concert. It just doesn’t feel right.

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Wow, $1,000 is truly insane, I don’t care who you are! Since there is hardly any money to be made with music sales in the digital download age, they’re trying to make up for lost revenue with concert tickets and merchandise. While I understand it on some level, there still has to be a limit in what you charge for shows.

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      4. That was for two tix BTW, to clarify. That woukd have been in the second section in the amphitheater at Xfinity Center. In fairness, I could spend $100/ticket and sit on the lawn. Did that once for ABB, never again. Didn’t even feel like I was at the show. Imagine how many shows I could see at small clubs for the price of those good tix.

        Liked by 1 person

      5. I hear ya. Sometimes I get caught in the trap that I keep listening to artists I already know fairly well and enjoy. There’s so much other music I feel I’ve yet to explore. Now that I’m starting to fool around with the bass, I probably end up having even less time to listen to new music than before. You just can’t win!

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    1. Agree, it’s a beautiful collection, especially for folks who like Tom Petty, don’t own the excellent first greatest hits compilation from 1993, and don’t want to get all of his regular studio albums. It’s less for die-hard fans who probably have all of that music!😀

      Liked by 1 person

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