“An American Treasure,” the 60-track Tom Petty retrospective box set will be released September 28 via Reprise Records. Mastered by Ryan Ulyate, longtime Petty mix/recording engineer and the set’s co-producer, with Chris Bellman, award-winning Grundman mastering engineer, the massive collection includes previously unreleased tracks, alternate versions of classics, historic live recordings and deep album cuts.
“This will be the first release after Tom passed away, says Ryan Ulyate. “Basically, the family wanted to put something out that would honor him, and also introduce people to some of the deeper tracks that Tom produced. I collaborated with Tom's daughter Adria, his wife Dana, and with Mike Campbell and Benmont Tench, both of whom produced the collection with me. Together, we came up with a list of songs that spans his entire career. There are tracks that people have heard before, some new versions of songs that have never been released, and some new songs that people haven't heard at all. The first song is from 1976, so we have material from the very first tape to the very last thing he did.”
How is a consistent sound created from such a wide variety of sources?
“Ryan and I spent a lot of time with that exact problem,” explains mastering engineer Chris Bellman. “Trying to make everything cohesive while jumping from era to era was definitely a challenge, but I think we've accomplished that, and the listener should have a very good experience hearing it chronologically.”
Ulyate adds, “Our main focus is Tom's voice, in the sense that in every one of these songs he's talking to you. We focused on keeping the vocals at a certain level of presence, so sometimes the track gets a little more hi-fi, sometimes the track gets a little more lo-fi, depending on when it was recorded, but Tom’s voice is always right in front of you.”
Pictured in session are (L-R) Tom Petty’s engineer Ryan Ulyate and mastering engineer Chris Bellman. Photo by David Goggin.
“An American Treasure” features rarities, historic live performances and deeper tracks. Available for preorder, the set comes out on two-CD, four-CD and six-LP incarnations. A “Super Deluxe Limited Edition” of the four-CD version includes an 84-page hardcover book, a lithograph of the Shepard Fairey cover art, a limited number of reproduced, handwritten lyric sheets from four songs, and a link to download all 60 songs in Hi-Res (24bit 96K) format..
“One thing that's different about what we're doing here in mastering is unlike the typical situation where I would come in with finished stereo masters. I brought in my Pro Tools sessions and my rig. Rather than just being able to adjust the overall EQ of the mix, we can get into the details and adjust any element individually. We might find that the track is sitting in the right place, but the vocal is a little low. Rather than trying to do that with the EQ, as you would in typical mastering, I can bring up the individual track. Maybe we add some brightness to the track, but it makes the vocal harsh. Chris can add brightness to the track, and I can soften the vocals, so we have a lot more moving parts here. That additional degree of control helped us cohesively finalize a collection that goes across 40 plus years.”
Official Music video for "Keep A Little Soul" from Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers:
“An American Treasure” available September 28th, pre-order available at https://wbr.ec/americantreasure
ABOUT BERNIE GRUNDMAN MASTERING
The name Bernie Grundman is synonymous with Mastering. His world-renowned facilities, responsible for a consistently large percentage of chart recordings, were launched in 1984. In 1997, Grundman opened his Tokyo mastering studios and in 1998 relocated to expanded facilities in Hollywood. Bernie Grundman Mastering in Hollywood operates six studios, including a 5.1 mastering room. All processing devices can be completely bypassed, resulting in sonic quality that is unsurpassed in the mastering industry. Virtually all digital and analog formats are accepted for mastering, with the facility providing high quality disk masters, and sub-masters for CD. Grundman’s custom consoles are built in-house with all discrete electronics.