Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers box set is a must-have for Pettyphiles


By Steve Newton

Some boxed sets are basically just glorified greatest-hits collections, with maybe a handful of remixed or previously unreleased tracks tossed in to lure die-hard fans with bulging pockets, but the 92-track Playback isn’t one of those.

While it does contain all the big hits from Petty’s nine studio albums, three of its six CDs are taken up by no fewer than 27 previously unreleased tracks and 15 hard-to-find B sides. Particularly impressive is Disc 6, titled Nobody’s Children, which includes a number of never-before-heard tunes that rank with Petty’s finest material.

The history of each track is compiled in a thoroughly annotated, photo-packed, 80-page booklet, and the fact that this set retails for less than $60—perhaps due to the artist’s own consumer-conscious involvement—makes it a must-have for Pettyphiles. If you’re feeling really sassy you can even try to use the laminated “backstage pass” that’s enclosed to meet Petty next time he comes to town.

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