You're Gonna Get It!

Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers

Warner Brothers, 1978

REVIEW BY: Jason Warburg


Sandwiched between their memorable self-titled debut and the third album -- Damn The Torpedoes -- that would make them superstars, You’re Gonna Get It is arguably the biggest sleeper in Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers’ lengthy catalogue.  It’s an odd disc full of little sonic experiments, and also a tight one at a spare 29 minutes -- half an album today, but all they needed to score their first gold record.

Opener “When The Time Comes” executes a Vulcan mind-meld between Roger McGuinn and Elvis Costello, matching Byrdsian jangle-rock with snarling, defiant vocals.  The attitude Petty lets loose at the mike characterizes the entire album – determined and defiant, the swaggering underdog swimming both with and against the tide of punk and new wave that was all around the band in 1978.

And here I must stop and pay tribute to the brilliant liner notes from Bill Flanagan that grace the booklet of the current reissue of this album, especially this paragraph: ”…the punk-new wave crowd liked this harder edge and embraced the Heartbreakers as their own.  (A note to younger readers: back then the words punk and new wave did not have the rigid definitions they later took on.  The Heartbreakers were seen as part of the same wave as Rockpile, Television, Patti Smith, Mink DeVille, and Elvis Costello – short, tough songs with cool guitars and a my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250 Highway 61 Revisited attitude.  This was before punk meant stupid and new wave was about clothes.)”

Preach it, brother.  And now, back to the action.  “You’re Gonna Get It,” “Hurt” and “Magnolia” smolder more than they burn, but then “Too Much Ain’t Enough” comes burning out of your speakers sounding just like the title would lead you to expect – tight, urgent, about to explode.  The explosion happens immediately on the flipside as side two opens with the blistering “I Need To Know,” a 2:26 twin-guitar balls-out blast of paranoia and anger.  Sweet stuff.

But not as sweet as “Listen To Her Heart,” which absolutely nails the invisible nexus between the Byrds and Nick Lowe, brimming with in-your-face attitude but anchored by one of the catchiest chiming guitar riffs ever recorded – so perfect that Campbell’s concise, masterful mid-song solo simply pushes the basic riff higher and harder for a bare 15 seconds.  You can’t improve on perfection, so why try?  (Side note: it may be hard to believe three decades later, but in 1978 radio stations wouldn’t play this song because the first verse mentions cocaine.  No, seriously.)

“No Second Thoughts” is one of the most experimental tracks the group ever recorded, from its “quick, start the tape” interrupted intro to the acoustic guitar-and-bongos bonfire-on-the-beach vibe to Petty’s raw, plaintive vocals – and also one of my favorite album cuts in TP’s entire catalogue.  “Restless” and “Baby’s A Rock ‘N’ Roller” finish off the album in fine style, the former a stinging, moody, guitar-driven sequel to “Breakdown,” and the latter a goofy, delirious, eminently danceable party tune. 

Side two – “I Need To Know” and onward -- was in fact one of those sides I played over and over back in my turntable days, a tight 14-minute set of five terrific songs.  It’s a rougher, looser, more varied sound than the one the band would soon adopt, but reflects perfectly the fierce energy the entire group gave to this record and the suspicious, defiant attitude at its core. 

You’re Gonna Get It! is a classic rock (no caps necessary) record that delivers fierce punkish energy in a supremely melodic package.  The album, especially the brilliant side two, constitutes one of the neglected gems of the late ‘70s.  If you like TP even a little, you need this disc.

Rating: A-

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© 2008 Jason Warburg and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Warner Brothers, and is used for informational purposes only.