Eagle Vision EV302939
“It’s just the normal noises in here,” an unidentified female voice says just before Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers tear into “Only the Losers” on their third record, Damn the Torpedoes (1979). The normal noises meant guitars, drums, bass, and traditional keyboards -- no synthesizers. Producer Jimmy Iovine, with a lot of help from ace engineer Shelly Yakus, took those elements and gave Petty his first top-ten album. This entry in the Classic Albums series shows how much hard work goes into making a hit record. Benmont Tensch, the band’s keyboard player, points out that Yakus and drummer Stan Lynch took three or four days just to get a drum sound. Yakus went so far as to take Lynch shopping for new drums. Iovine, Yakus, Petty, and guitarist Mike Campbell sit at a mixing board and adjust the levels throughout the video to show how very tiny details, such as the shaker in “Refugee,” ultimately sell a song. The bonus material is almost as good as the main program. Iovine and Petty talk about the mix for “Refugee,” Shelly Yakus explains how he panned guitars and added delay on “What Are You Doing in My Life” to create a wall of sound, and Tensch describes how he achieved some of his keyboard effects. Archival footage of the band in performance and in music videos helps give the story background and context.