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November 28, 2011 / jhsaeger

Record Store Day Recap I: Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers/Soundgarden

   Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers:  Over their 35 years together as a band, Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers have mastered the art of translating their high standard of musicianship to the stage. Their Record Store Day Exclusive, Kiss My Amps, encapsulates this ability as well as, if not better than, any of their previous live releases.  The seven-song vinyl EP includes six cuts from the 2010 Mojo Tour and one from their 2008 tour.  
   The lone song from their 2008 tour, “Sweet William” fits in well with the bluesy tones of the Mojo tracks.  Originally released in 1999 as a non-album B-side on the “Room of the Top of the World” single, the live cut of the song is a true gem.  The sexy harmonica play from sideman Scott Thurston really complements the track, which lazily snakes along until sudden bursts of guitar play give the tune an unexpected jolt.
   The other selections on Kiss My Amps, which all came from the 2010 album Mojo, are all deeply rooted in a blues style which is atypical for the Heartbreakers.  The song “First Flash of Freedom” brings out Steve Ferrone’s thunderous drumming, which tends to come out more in a concert than on an album.  Guitar player Mike Campbell, who normally stays away from lengthy solos, really shreds  on “First Flash of Freedom” and the Zepplinesque “I Should Have Known It.”  One constant on Kiss My Amps is keyboardist Benmont Tench, who frequently lends an eerie organ sound to each song’s background.  
   With the exception of “Sweet William,” each of the live tracks had appeared on a Mojo Tour release made available as a download through Petty’s website to fans who had purchased concert tickets.  This is their first appearance as a physical release.  
Soundgarden:  Another live EP from Record Store Day, Soundgarden’s Before the Doors: Live on 1-5 captures the band while they were in support of their final record, Down on the Upside.  Recorded during the soundchecks of tour stops in Oakland, Vancouver, and Sacramento in 1996, the ten-inch orange vinyl is a loud, smoldering reminder of the band’s raunchy guitars and relentless rhythm section.  While the tracks had been made available with the pre-order of their CD Live on I-5, which came out this past March, this is the first time they had been made available in vinyl.  
   The five-track EP consists of “No Attention,” “Never the Machine Forever,” “Waiting for the Sun,” “Room a Thousand Years Wide,” and “Somewhere.”  The raw power of the rockers from Seattle immediately hits with “No Attention,” where bassist Ben Shepherd flashes a wicked bass line.  Drummer Matt Cameron, who is currently splitting duties between Pearl Jam and the reunited Soundgarden, is relentless throughout all five songs.  Guitar player Kim Thayil is his usual self, loudly wailing away on his guitar on every chord.  The cuts on Before the Doors are so good that it really would have been a shame that no one was around to hwar them at those concerts… until now.

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