Unexpected Tom Petty "stamper" discovery

Did some New Years cull of Rock albums. Went through the Tom Petty catalog.

My faves are his first 3 albums, with my interest fading by his 5th, "Long After Dark"
I was a big fan, saw TP & the Heartbreakers perform arguably at their peak -New Years Eve, 1978 at the Santa Monica Civic.

Playing my 2nd least favorite album "Hard Promises," the great sonics kept me listening to it.

A quick Wiki revealed this, which I thought was cool:

"During the recording of the album, John Lennon was scheduled to be in the same studio at the same time. Petty was looking forward to meeting him when he came in. The meeting never occurred, as Lennon was murdered before the date of his planned visit the studio. Petty and the band paid tribute to the slain former Beatle by etching "WE LOVE YOU J.L." in the runout deadwax on early U.S. and Canadian pressings of Hard Promises."

After side 1 was finished, a quick inspection verified my suspicion-I have a Tom Port HOT STAMPER$$!!

All those Tom Port descriptors used for those $3-500 "WHITE HOT STAMPER" were heard!

Reality, I just thought the sonics were quite nice, so im keeping it. The album was a sealed copy. I found it during one of my neighborhood store, bin diving sessions years ago. It was played once back then, never saw daylight since.

Played side 2, then back on the shelf, where it likely won’t get played for another couple years.


That sounds great!. Although, I've never known TP to make known his stamper codes.

My story is only somewhat related (being about not the sound quality of a certain pressing, but rather its musical content), but anyone who likes Tom Petty is likely to also like T Bone Burnett. I bought T Bone’s 1980 Truth Decay album on Takoma Records, and loved it. I had the copy for a few years, not listening to it during the time my system was becoming more revealing. Hearing it again on that system disclosed just how noisy the LP was, so I took it into my local Tower Records (at which I had established a relationship as a good, repeat customer) for a different copy. I put that copy on the turntable, and was pleased that it indeed had lower surface noise.

I was however very surprised when the Rockabillyish-song which closes side 1, "Driving Wheel", ended; rather than the song starting up again after a false ending as it had on the first copy, on the second it simply ended. The rest of the song was missing! I looked at the bottom of the back side of the LP cover, and discovered that the new copy, while still on the Takoma Records label, was being distributed by Allegiance Records, not Chrysalis as had been the original copy. Allegiance had obviously remastered the LP for their release, and the engineer had not realized the false ending was just that.

I returned the second copy, and the clerk retrieved the first copy from the stores back room. Good thing I played the Allegiance Records-distributed LP immediately! If you go looking for an LP copy of Truth Decay, make sure the cover says "Distributed by Chrysalis Records"!

That is really cool. 
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slaw-I've read somewhere that Tom was mindful of his recordings quality, and he was into listening to good hifi.
The "stamper" surprise did remind me, that album  several FM staples that took me back to a less complicated, simple period of time.

Bpd24-It's interesting how sometimes, albums were haphazardly made. I remember buying an album of a particular group,played the first side and rocked out. Flipped  over to the 2nd side... music of a completely DIFFERENT, unknown band that was awful!
Took the bus to Licorice Pizza for a new copy!I  believe we both have memories of that place.
This is the one I would hang out at:
How about that list of sale albums?

I also got one of those mystery discs when I bought a copy of Stevie Wonder’s "Inner Visions" album. Side One was as it should be, but the flip side was from a completely different album by Yvonne Fair called "The Bitch is Black"!
At the time, I didn't know who it was. It wasn't until the internet came about that I was able to search with some of the lyrics to determine the identity of the artist.
In 1976 I was a Cougar freshman when another dormie started flipping out gushing about how he had discovered The Next Big Thing who he guaranteed was going to be the most prolific performer in rock for the next 10, 20 years at least. Well it was an awfully good debut album. Which day by day we all were saying, you know that ones good too, until in no time flat it was they are all great which is about what it took back then to put me over the threshold of spending that kind of money, I mean we're talking it must have been at least $5, maybe $6, serious money. And so it was I came to own an original issue Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers.

Still all great songs. Still his best work. Which is not a knock. Almost nobody gets to create a masterpiece, TP at least had one. But I haven't had a listen in a while and now all this talk about him caring about quality has got me keen to go home and see just how good it sounds. 


PS- Marty, you were right!
Thinking about this got me curious, don’t want people thinking I’m cheap or a tightwad or anything. So I looked it up. Even worse than I thought. A new album in 1976 was $7! No wonder I was so picky. Those things were even more expensive than I thought!

I would be terribly conflicted,if I had to give up TP's debut or "Damn the Torpedoes.

TP's music was caught up in the 80's MTV movement, and I thought that was the "jump the shark" period. Also, Rock radio was turning into what is now-a list of songs on repeat.

My DTT copy may be an elusive "WHITE HOT STAMPER" grade that would list on Tom Ports sight for an amount I could never imagine coughing up!

Both of my copies are early  Backstreet labels. I believe later  presses are the blue/rainbow MCA label.

I have taken "Damn the Torpedoes" to shows and played it  on uber systems, and it would grab the attention of anyone in the room. 
Spectacular/breathtaking  sound on one of those 50k+ tables.

IMO, those 2 albums are in the rare, exclusive club-every cut is a great song.
Yeah well and looking back now I can see why. Price inflation has so distorted thinking we look at $7 and it feels like nothing. But $7 back then was not nothing! It was more like five times the minimum wage. So in other words, in order to get an album made back in the 1970’s your material had to be good enough to convince the suits kids would pay the equivalent of $60 in today’s money. I can hardly imagine how much better music would be today if the choices were like back then, radio or the $60 album. No wonder we had Rumours, Dark Side of the Moon, Crime of the Century....

Anyway you got me curious to see if I can find a nice copy of DTT. Sounds like it needs to be Backstreet to get that stunning/breathtaking sound. How can you tell? From the cover? Or do you need to look at the LP itself?

It is mind blowing and depressing to realize the "value" of our hard earned cash these days.

I have a small stack of double/triple buys of albums from the cull.

A DTT is in the pile. It is a later, MCA rainbow. Since you'll just have to do some bin diving and check the record label, should be just a matter of effort. 

In the event you come across a sealed copy, I notice the Backstreet WILL NOT have a bar code. That's typically the easiest way to determine an early press of certain material. In this case, I'm not certain how to determine the lineage from there?

I must correct my earlier claim on my  TP debut. It is a SHELTER, yellow label.
It appears Shelter must have been absorbed later by Backstreet, which was distributed by MCA? The record label thing gets confusing.

Maybe someone  can chime in for some history. I think bdp24 may be able to shed some light on the label history. He is the R&R history guy.

In any event, I played a side of the TP debut. My copy is a level down since it wasn't a sealed album.  The sonics however, are reasonably close to my DTT.
I notice REALLY great presses can be played at low volume,and the dynamics/punchiness of bass,drums and cymbals can be easily noticed.

"American Girl" is such a great Rock and Roll tune. Love the jangly, Roger Mcguinn-Byrds guitar tone.

Interesting discussion about sound quality. T Bone Burnett and Tom Petty were always sticklers for sound quality.
Yes, just being anti-reissue, stamper geek while thinning the herd.

Revised comments of SQ of TP's debut on the Shelter label.  After playing side 2, it is maybe another notch below in sound quality. Still quiet, but doesn't have the impactful drums/cymbals or presence of vocals like DTT at low volume.

Doesn't matter, that album is kick ass especially cranked.
Perhaps  the master tape just wasn't up to snuff as DTT? 

I checked the deadwax of my DTT and noticed an etching "⬅️P➡️1" If there are several generations of Backstreets, maybe this has significance?

Maybe someone will chime in, and share their own Backstreet  pressings, "secret code?"

For Petty lovers who don't know about the original version of The Dwight Twilley Band, you will love their debut album Sincerely. In promotional videos made for the album, Tom is playing bass with Dwight, drummer/singer Phil Seymour, and guitarist Bill Pitcock IV.

Very kindred spirits, the success of that 1976 album was an inspiration to Tom. On their drive from Florida to L.A. to get a record deal, Mudcrunch stopped in Tulsa to ask Twilley for advice, and Dwight hooked him up with Leon Russell, whose Shelter Records (on which Sincerely had been released) had an office in town. Mudcrunch didn't make the grade, but Petty's career left Twilley's in the dust.

I just checked and I have that album on Backstreet Records with the inscribed deadwax.  It's also gold embossed on the cover "MCA 37239".  Am I rich? 

cool R&R history as always-thanks!

 millercarbon & anyone interested in 3 "stamper grade" presses, this is the skinny.
"Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers" Shelter  SRL52006  
"You're Gonna Get It!"- Backstreet MCA 371
"Damn the Torpedoes "-Backstreet MCA 5105
printed on corner of jacket 

Checking Better Records,(Tom Ports site) TP apparently isn't in big demand. You can get a good copy for a reasonable price.

I happen to have what I think, is an exceptional copy like this:
Way out of my league !
Since all this stamper nonsense is subjective, FWIW-
Chrysalis 2033 upper right hand corner 

For extra record  snob appeal, maybe the British press is "better?"
Maybe not, according to stamper man:

"The American Pressing Is Still King (or should that be President?)

"Like we've noted so many times before, this British band, like many of their brethren, had their master tapes sent to America to make our much-maligned domestic pressings. I maligned them myself, wrongly I now realize. It takes an amazing stereo and a top quality Hot Stamper pressing to get this music to work its magic. If you are lucky enough to have those two things, you will not believe how good this album sounds, so much better than you ever thought possible. It's not perfect, but with the right pressing you can hear why Anderson, his bandmates, the engineer and producer all thought they had put a real winner down on tape. They had, but it took us a long time to find a good LP and be able to play it right."

I find  the record hunt more rewarding than gear madness. One must still get their system to a certain level though, to hear what the fuss is all about.

I looked at my copy MCA 2015- DJ- 55.3
cryptic stuff. Gold embossed on cover, has me thinking its some kind of promotional copy? I have many albums like that.

Bases on what I posted earlier, TP's albums just aren't in demand. It's not a Beatles "butcher" cover.

The sound, however is fantastic and reason to never buy one of those pricey reissue 45's.

The other issue regarding Hard Promises is the fact MCA wanted to charge 9.98 for the album but when Petty got wind of this he refused to deliver the master tapes. MCA was trying to create a SUPERSTAR price for popular artists on their label but backed down to Petty and released it @8.98. If you look at the cover near Petty's right hand is a box of vinyl with 8.98 scrawled on a piece of cardboard.
I clearly remember gravitating towards the $3.69 sale bins,or going to the used stores for $1.00  or less, for current, hardly played  albums.

During the 70/80's, 7-8 dollars for an album was outrageous to me!