George Starostin's Reviews

TOM WAITS

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Introduction

Michael J. West <msclguru@email.unc.edu> (04.07.2001)

Moreover, some people were initially drawn to Tom Waits BECAUSE of his later, weirder work. I always had the same sort of overall feel from all of Tom's early records--sort of like Randy Newman's evil twin. You know, Randy is mumbling his Tin Pan Alley-like songs in a Holiday Inn bar, while Tom is groaning along in the smoky, seedy nightclub across the street. Good stuff, and grand listening, but nothing REALLY distinguishable outsideof the lyrics.

But then there was Swordfishtrombones. Wow! Does it get more original than that? Great mood, great sounds, and just an amazing sense of creativity. That's what made Tom Waits for me.

Vasiliy Zavorochayev <tijemart@rambler.ru> (28.12.2001)

I cannot call Tom Waits as well-known and popular musician. But he is one of the most unequal and principal musicians and songwriters. All his creation was always non-commercial and full of musical investigations. We can recognize his style by moment: nobode else has such wonderful crazy-retro sound as Waits, sometimes it reminds the ages of Great Depression, sometimes we feel the intonations of pre-2nd-World-War-times, or sometimes Waits sounds as "respectable" jazz-man of 50-s... In any case Tom Waits sounds excellently! He hasn't really weak albums in his creation, though I can call some peaks in discography of Waits - albums of 1975 & 1976, 1985, 1993 & 1999 (sometimes I think about: what did Tom between 1993 and 1999?). It's particularly enjoyable to me that Tom Waits goes on to create masterpieces now - in the edge of Commercial Music Expansion and Crisis of New Ideas. I hope Tom will enjoy us in future yet.

Sam Mortlock <mortlocksam@hotmail.com> (08.01.2002)

I really enjoyed reading your reviews of Tom Wait's albums and found them very perceptive. It's hard to find people (non-fanatics) who can enjoy and understand both parts of his career. However I really can't get my head around your ratings system. How can a great and original Tom Wait's album like Bone Machine (12) receive a lower overall rating than a bad and generic Who album like Who Are You (13). Otherwise great site - much better than other "amateur review" sites that I've seen on the web.

Raghu Mani <Raghu.Mani@oracle.com> (19.01.2002)

It is great to see that you have reviewed Tom Waits. He's been a favorite of mine for a very long time and he's one artist who has been cruelly neglected by both the music buying public as well as, to some extent, music reviewers (both amateurs and professional). I first heard of Tom Waits in 1985 in an issue of NME. NME had just come out with a list of the 100 greatest albums of all time and Swordfishtrombones was at #6. At that time I was still in India and couldn't find that album anywhere but I did find Rain Dogs and have been a big fan ever since. Of course the situation has improved after I came to the US and I have acquired most of his recorded output. However it has been hard to find any other fans - even in California where he supposedly lives. Most people haven't even heard *about* him - let alone heard anything by him. The situation seems to extend to the web reviewing community - as best as I can tell yours is the only Tom Waits review page out there. BTW - you are missing one album - the soundtrack for One from the heart. It is completely composed by Tom and features him and country singer Crystal Gayle singing all the songs - it works surprisingly well and is probably his most accessible album. And, to make things even better, he is coming out with *two* new albums in April this year. Hope to see reviews of those on your website soon!!

<Klippspringer@aol.com> (26.01.2002)

there has been a time , when everyone (and i mean everyone) was teatened to listen to this man. i have got 3 waits lps in my collection, for which i didn`t paid a penny. people always thought, if someone ownes 5000 records, he MUST love tom waits. and i hated him so much. even the jarmusch-movies where going very sad, cause of this extrem phoney guy.

and all the graphic design students, who never even take a walk near the railwaystation after midnight told each other how authentical feelings of rotten hotelbeds with a lot too much whiskey the last night came over listening to these records. real bullshit this man.


ALBUMS
THE EARLY YEARS VOL. 1

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THE EARLY YEARS VOL. 2

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CLOSING TIME

Adrian Denning <mdenster@yahoo.com> (23.12.2001)

'Martha' and 'Lonely' are the highlights for me. They make me cry every time. This guy can write songs! And he sings in such an affecting manner! A wonderful debut proper.

Eric Miller <mil1344@dellepro.com> (09.01.2002)

Most singer-songwriters become blander and more commercial with time--Tom worked backwards. In my (apparently unique) opinion, this is easily Tom's most overrated album. Don't get me wrong--it's solidly-written and entertaining enough, but the 70's AOR production on many of the tracks ultimately brings it down. In addition, his early singing voice is considerably less interesting than the rougher-than-sandpaper vocals he'd soon adopt. To tell you the truth, if he'd kept making albums like this I wouldn't be a fan.

Of all Tom's albums, this sounds the most comtemporary. "Ol' 55," "Old Shoes (& Picture Postcards)," and "Rosie"--while good--are nevertheless dated country-rock.

The other side of the coin is 30's/40's late-night jazz balladry. In my opinion, "Midnight Lullabye" is the best song on the album. The way the heartfelt vocals combine with the lazily rolling piano (and that lovely coda) ensures a classic, simple yet affecting--just like a real lullaby! Meanwhile, "Grapefruit Moon" and "Little Trip to Heaven" are highlights worthy of Sinatra (or maybe Robert Goulet).

When I see the album cover, I imagine the song "Lonely."

Overall, this album is superior to whatever else was going on at the time, but only a hint of the greatness to come.

Raghu Mani <Raghu.Mani@oracle.com> (25.01.2002)

My first Tom Waits album was Rain Dogs, then Swordfishtrombones, then the later releases and finally worked my way back to his earlier albums. So when I heard Tom's voice on this one, I had quite a shock. My first reaction was 'that's not Tom Waits!!' - and I immediately disliked the album. After several listens, that feeling went away for the most part but I still do not like it as much as some of the later stuff. You put it on a par with stuff like Bone Machine and Frank's Wild Years - somehow I cannot rate it quite so high. Yes, its got some nice tunes but nothing really grabs me the way most of his other albums did.


THE HEART OF SATURDAY NIGHT

Eric Miller <mil1344@dellepro.com> (09.01.2002)

A major improvement. The over-production is gone, and the songs have suddenly taken on a timeless quality. I'd give this album a higher rating than Closing Time, and I can't decide whether this or Small Change is his best pre-1983 album. Perhaps its strength lies in its consistency; from the opening notes, Tom sets an evocative late night low-life mood that he successfully maintains for the entire 40 minutes. He still sings with the same voice from the first album, but sometimes there's a bluesier edge to it. This was his first album produced by Bones Howe, and the arranger was Michael Melvoin (who worked with Sinatra, Bing Crosby, and Michael Jackson, among others). Both sides open with fairly rollicking jazz numbers, then give way to thoughtful piano-and-orchestra ballads. "San Diego Serenade" is the best song on the album, though "Diamonds On My Windshield" may be the most important: Tom's first Beat poetry recitation is not only his best, but also one of the best in the genre. "Drunk On The Moon" is one of his best exercises in 40's vocal pop.

"The Ghosts Of Saturday Night"--a second recitation-- plays like a rehearsal for the next album.

Raghu Mani <Raghu.Mani@oracle.com> (25.01.2002)

Same as before, maybe just a little better. Tom's singing is quite similar to the last album and its got quite a few nice tunes. The change in subject matter from mostly simple love songs - this is quite a bit darker and more biting. Another thing that helps is that there seems to be a little more variety on this one - 'Diamonds on my Windshield' is a nice change of pace. I simply love the title track - more than any of the other stuff on either this or the previous album. So, I'd rate this a little higher than Closing Time but a fair bit below some of his later albums.


NIGHTHAWKS AT THE DINER

Eric Miller <mil1344@dellepro.com> (10.01.2002)

You're pretty much dead-on. This album is really a cumulative experience. It isn't about songs--only 5 out the 18 tracks on the CD version are conventional songs by my estimation. Of these, "On A Foggy Night" is my favorite. It has a 40's torch-song quality, like something you'd here in an especially atmospheric film noir. "Better Off Without A Wife" and "Eggs And Sausage," which Tom performed on Saturday Night Live in 1977, are decent. The other two feel undeveloped, but that's hardly relevant in the context of the album.

Beat poetry recitations form the crux of the album. The profound influence of Kerouac and Bukowski on Tom is most keenly felt here, as Tom paints a picture steeped in anachronistic American Gothic. It's hard to pick a favorite among these, but I'd say "Putnam County," with some of Tom's best imagery and a melody perfectly suited to its theme.

The intros border on cheesy stand-up comedy, but that's not necessarily bad. The story about asking himself out on a date is hilarious.

The best way I can sum up this album is by saying that it's simultaneously intimate and affected. I can only recommend it to hardcore Waits fans.

andre hunt <thedre@value.net> (20.01.2002)

THis is more of a general comment about the man, but I had to pick an album to fit this in. Do you ver get the feeling that there is something missing from almost every review, of either music or writing or art? In the past year I've been collecting a great deal of unreleased Waits on video and CD...the Drunk On THe Moon Boot, with outtakes from Freign Affiars, Paradise Alley, and Soundstage in Chicago, THe Bremen concert, the Ontario and London shows on video...the pull toward all this is irresistable, finding treasures like "Playin Hooky, Empty Pockets, Midnight Lullaby, The Undone, and the stark Scarecrow. You toss this in the computer, and you find yourself listening over and over to material that normally takes a half year to get to know so well....it's a facet of computer use that I've grown to greatly appreciate....It just starts up again when you restart, and it's always just a finger away from you when you're working or online. What this has done for me, is listen more deeply to phrasing, sound and space. An unknowner like Undone opens it's arms and wings to you, and you hear how much feeling Tom puts into the phrasing of each line. There's more content in a single sentence, phrasing-wise, then there is in a hundred popular tunes. Even blues songs don't have the content that Tom's songs have. These are truly sung from a deep inside space...you wonder if the shear sound of the phrasing has to come out, and that it's not just the need to song-write or perform, it's the depth of expression that Tom needs to explore. It then seems to come back to him and feed his talent and mind to push him to new levels. "The evenin' staggers home with it's tie undone...He's as poor as a churchmouse...and whistlin' out a nun...Tuggin in his shirt tail....jigglin a church key..... Then a whistle is heard). I hear such a great love and sympathy for the characters he writes about...It's this that carries through to me, as his piano just barely touches the keys to whisper a sad melody that oh so gently places you in the quiet. A great picture tells you how much in life you aren't really seeing, that perhaps you're coasting these days...that's why Tom is held so close to so many hearts. I think of him and a great warm feeling spreads across my chest...Sometimes I think I could give my life for him.


SMALL CHANGE

<WhippleW@MWHSE.com> (05.07.2001)

I've always been intrigued by folks outside of New York, LA or Middle America who appreciate Tom Waits. For a while there it was getting tough to recommend what the budding Waits fan should buy next, since only a handful of his albums sound like others. Though listening chronologically it's entertaining, to say the least, to hear his voice slide down the gravel from croon to croak. Me, I love it all. "Step Right Up" was one of the first songs of his I heard, and it always puts me in the mindset of watching (pre-cable, pre-remote) TV in the 70's on a hot summer day, with all the loud commercials selling mortgages, aluminum siding, hide-a-beds and K-tel hits collections. They are cliches he's spouting, but all taken from American television at the time. Which, depending on your opinion of American pop "culture", may or may not be a good thing. Looking forward to your views on the rest of the Waits catalog, George!

Eric Miller <mil1344@dellepro.com> (10.01.2002)

Again, I agree completely. This was Tom's pre-1983 critical and commericial apex (his only album to make the Billboard Top 100 till Mule Variations). And it's a lounge masterpiece. Well, maybe the word "lounge" is taking it a bit too far, but whenever I listen to it, I wonder whether it was put in the Rock or Jazz section of the record store. I mean, there are no guitars to be found--just Tom and his piano, backed by a seasoned jazz trio and occasional orchestration. And almost every song begins with the piano introducing the melody, then Tom crooning in a voice that now sounds like Louis Armstrong. During his concerts at the time, the audience usually applauds after a solo, like it's a jazz performance.

Anyway, "Tom Traubert's Blues" is easily the best song on the album. It's probably his most famous song, and suffice it to say, it's a defining moment in his career. "Invitation To The Blues" is also among his best. I can't believe it wasn't on the recent Used Songs compilation CD. One of his all-time catchiest melodies and most powerful vocal performances--it could've been a single! The part where the mournful strings enter as he says "Get me a room at the Squire/ and the fillin station's hiring" makes me want to cry.

Your comparison of "Step Right Up" and "Pasties And A G-String" to hip-hop is interesting. I guess it shows how Beat poetry played a big role in the development of rap?

Some of the other songs are kind of boring. An intelligent album, but not one to be analyzed. This one's from the heart. In our cynical, desensitized third millennium, it's an immeasurable consolation to hear something so real.

Raghu Mani <Raghu.Mani@oracle.com> (25.01.2002)

This is more like it. This is the first of his albums where he starts to sound like the Tom Waits I am familiar with (I have not heard Nighthawks at the Diner yet). The somgs are fantastic too. Right from the start, it grabs you and doesn't let go. My favorite song on the album is 'Invitation to the Blues' but three or four other tracks come close. Unlike you, I do not get worn out at the end of the album. I wouldn't call either 'The One that Got Away' or the title track standouts but I enjoyed them immensely. This one fully deserves the rating you gave it.


FOREIGN AFFAIRS

Raghu Mani <Raghu.Mani@oracle.com> (18.02.2002)

Probably the worst album during his years at Asylum records. However, I do not find it as bad as you seem to. I listened to the Bette Midler duet fully expecting to hate it but it wasn't quite as bad as I expected it to be. I don't think I'll ever love it but it is interesting in its own way. By the way, Tom's work with Crystal Gayle on One from the Heart is a lot better than this. I cannot rave about any of the other songs except 'Burma Shave' which is a classic. However, most are listenable and some are quite nice. Anyway, I shouldn't complain too much - if this is his worst album then I have to say that the guy has maintained an amazingly high standard for most of his career.

Eric Miller <mil1344@dellepro.com> (18.06.2002)

Definitely the cheesiest album Tom released! "I Never Talk to Strangers" is one of the very few songs by him I dislike, sounding way too much like something from a bad 70's variety show. "Jack and Neal/California Here I Come" isn't much better - and it's not a medley!

On the plus side, "Muriel" and "A Sight for Sore Eyes" are enjoyable if typical excursions into world-weary late-night piano balladry. Of course "Potter's Field" and "Burma Shave" are flat-out classics - the aural equivalent of watching a moody film noir.

The last two tracks bring the quality down again, but it's still a decent album. By all means try to find the out-takes/unreleased songs from this period. I can't understand why he didn't use a couple of them here...


BLUE VALENTINE

Ward <WhippleW@MWHSE.com> (06.09.2001)

This is one of his albums I listen to rarely, because while the good stuff is so good, the not-so-good stuff can outweigh it. But on the tearjerking scale, this is the album that gets you right in the stomach. His version of "Somewhere" runs rings around Barbra Streisand's, and I've been trying to figure out the mystery of "Kentucky Avenue" since I first heard it. By the time the strings approach the upper registers near the end (not unlike Barber's Adagio) I'm wiping my eyes. And the whole tune might have 4 chords.

Raghu Mani <Raghu.Mani@oracle.com> (25.01.2002)

I don't have Foreign Affairs but this is a bit of a letdown. I do like it - more than his first two - but, hearing this album right after Small Change (I got both at the same time), I was rather disappointed. I don't think songs like 'Somewhere' suit Tom's voice. The rest of the album sounds a bit like an inferior version of Small Change. Not that it's a bad album - I'd fully endorse your selection of '$29.00' as the best song on the album and 'Romeo is Bleeding' is great too - but I was hoping for some kind of progression from Small Change and this didn't quite fit the bill.


HEARTATTACK AND VINE

Fidel Juarez <nostalgia@prodigy.com> (28.11.2001)

Being a Dylan, Lennon, Stones and Kinks' fan and all, I just had to write this:

The last time I shed tears (and I mean big ones, you know: in the size of bullfrogs, which doesn't mean that Waits ought to deserve a Kleenex award of sorts), was over the 1980's song "On a nickel". It touched a vibe, without being threatening. And it's been a while... Thank you Tom Waits.

(Induced with booze, through a sunny afternoon.)

Raghu Mani <Raghu.Mani@oracle.com> (25.01.2002)

Of all his pre-Swordfishtrombones albums, this (along with Small Change) is my favorite. There is very little I can say about it that you haven't said - basically I agree with all you say. There's isn't much variety here but nearly all the songs are fantastic. I heard Springsteen's version of 'Jersey Girl' before the original - and loved it. Now that I have heard the original - I must say that it knocks the Boss's version out of the park. My only gripe with this album is the instrumental 'In Shades' - not that it's bad but most instrumentals don't do much for me.


SWORDFISHTROMBONES

Raghu Mani <Raghu.Mani@oracle.com> (19.01.2002)

The presence of this album at #6 on NME's greatest albums list was what got me onto Tom Waits in the first place. However, I have to say that it isn't as good as all that. My main problem with the album are the three instrumentals - never been a big fan of purely instrumental music. The three spoken pieces - except for "Shore Leave" - do not do much for me either. The rest of the album is great but it somehow leaves you wanting, or maybe I should say expecting, a little bit more.


RAIN DOGS

Adrian Denning <mdenster@yahoo.com> (23.12.2001)

Well, 'Singapore' is some way to open! 'Downtown Trains' was covered succesfully by Rod Stewart of all people. A wonderfully rich collection of songs all round and a possible entry point into the delightful world of Tom Waits. Reccomended!

Raghu Mani <Raghu.Mani@oracle.com> (19.01.2002)

This was the first album of Waits that I heard and it is still my favorite. It does have two more pointless instrumentals but those are easily skipped over and the rest is just great. It also features a great blend of the Tom Waits of the early years and the newer "crazy" Tom. I have played this and Swordfishtrombones to people and invariably this one seems to be easier to get into than its predecessor. Of course, people end up dismissing him as a Springsteen rip off - which just gets me down.

Matt(the great)Byrd <MatthewByrd@hotmail.com> (13.07.2005)

YES YES, this is Tom's best!! I liked your little breakdown of Tom, spot on mate (did I just say that?)! Oh, old Tom, looking for a niche after being introduced to Frank Zappa and Captain Beefheart by his wife. He's a fine songwriter, but it sometimes seems that he just can't think of anything new to say, even though his appearence of being a very original guy......... but c'mon people, Tom is pretty conventional. He's pretty darn similar to Bruce..... except that Tom keeps trying to be weirder and weirder to find a niche, Bruce has his niche. On a scale, I'd put Bruce above Tom, though, jeez, it's like every comment is here to justify Bruce's existence! You know why? Because of George!! He hates the guy! Franks Wild Years, even though it's kind of ignored, has gotta be one of Tom's best! Broadway the wrong way!


FRANKS WILD YEARS

Raghu Mani <Raghu.Mani@oracle.com> (25.01.2002)

Most people put this in a trilogy along with Swordfishtrobones and Rain Dogs and, all too often, it is considered the worst of the three. I don't think it is as good as Rain Dogs but I'd place it a little above Swordfishtrombones. Maybe just because there's more stuff on this album. No pointless instrumentals and no story/song fragments like 'Frank's Wild Years' ;-). I usually do not like songs being repeated on albums but I don't mind that here because the second version of the repeated song is markedly different from the first. Not a single bad song here and several classics including 'Hang on St Christopher', 'Innocent When You Dream' (both versions) and 'I'll be Gone'.

chris <thiswheelsonfire@hotmail.com> (01.10.2002)

'Innocent when you dream', awwww, geeee, its beautiful man, two toms for the price of one in more than one sense. I agree that this is better than swordfishtromnbone but perversely find raindogs REALLY REALLY more accessible. Is that wrong????


BIG TIME

No reader comments yet.


BONE MACHINE

Adrian Denning <mdenster@yahoo.com> (23.12.2001)

This album was the first Tom Waits I heard, and appropriately enough, 'Earth Died Screaming' the first song of his I heard. It sounds like nothing else on earth. The 'doomy' atmosphere of this record, lightened by some the ballads works very well. 'I Don't Want To Grow Up' makes me smile all over. The whole thing is done with imagination, flair and Tom Waits character is all over this. A fantastic album.

Raghu Mani <Raghu.Mani@oracle.com> (19.01.2002)

Everyone calls this Waits' most inaccessible album and I can see why. However, it was anything but inaccessible for me. I loved it at the very first listen and, if anything, it feels even better now. The album is so incredibly dark - I've never heard anything quite like it. The only thing I suppose that could be close to this is Nick Cave's Murder Ballads (people say similar things about that album) - but I haven't heard that yet. Dylan's "Man in the Long Black Coat" has a similar atmosphere but that's just one song. Of course, this is one album that I cannot listen to many times in a row - too dark for that.

Laurie Brown <lbryan@peachhomeloans.com.au> (27.02.2002)

I'm a little surprised that the reviewer can't see past the 'surface level' darkness of this album. I think the 'tongue-in-cheek' element of Tom's music has been overlooked to a great extent on this page, and no-where is it more obvious than in the review of Bone Machine. Intersting also that you've labeled "Jesus gonna be here" as an anti-Christian song - I think you'll find that Waits' "religious songs" are almost always an attack on the commercialisation of religion, rather than an attack on the faith itself (it could be argued that Waits has strong leanings toward Christianity - but you'd have to ask him yourself). I'd urge those new to Waits to please not ignore the humour, and those reviewing him to avoid trying to explain the songs.

[Special author note: I'm a little surprised that the commentator can't see past the 'surface level' seriousness of this review. I think the 'Tom-Waits-is-multilateral' element of this page has been overlooked to a great extent in this comment, and no-where is it more obvious than in the remark that I've labeled "Jesus Gonna Be Here" as an anti-Christian song, which I obviously did not (it's one thing to say 'a song that could anger the entire Christiandom' and another thing to say 'anti Christian'). I'd urge those new to Waits to please read the reviews carefully, and those commenting on the reviews to avoid trying to make everybody else seem like idiots.]

Matt(the great)Byrd <MatthewByrd@hotmail.com> (24.07.2005)

Oh my goodness, didn't Tom start his career in the early 70's? Yeah, I think so. Can he still be making quality albums so long after his debut? Can he do that? I don't think so. Bruce kept good until the Lucky Town/Human Touch fiascos and Paul Simon gave us Graceland in the 80's, but has anybody given their audiences consistently good material (except for a few early debacles) even in their LATER years? NO. Tom is a darned good songwriter, one of the best and he's able to deliver that quality in any album.......... but what you don't expect from Tom is anything that's REALLY actually new. Tom just keeps getting weirder. You know what would be weird, Tom? I think a show-tune (not an insane Franks Wild Years type one, though) album would be hilariously glorious. Something besides getting into even noiser percussion or something. But nevermind (was that even a sentance?). Bone Machine has gotta be an album every person actually interested in popular music should get, I swear. I think Rain Dogs beats this one, though. I find it odd that I haven't read or actually heard anyone point out that 'Who Are You' sounds sounds (not musically) very similar to a Dylan ballad from the 60's. I find a couple of the ballads on this album to be a little half-assed (ahem, 'A Little Rain' for instance). 'The Ocean Doesn't Want Me' is absolutely creepy, it's just great showmanship, Tom's kind of a ham, it's great though. Tom and Bruce, they could be actors....... wait isn't Tom already acting? 'I Don't Wanna Grow Up' is a great, short catchy tune. It's probably the only tune worth downloading if you're Tom skepitcal. It's not the best tune on here though. Yeah, Bone Machine's mixture of menacing percussion-driven frighteners to the occasional not-percussian-driven tune to the piano-driven ballads is just excellent, seemingly derivative, but it'll defenitely do.


THE BLACK RIDER

<BillyOzark@aol.com> (11.02.2002)

Good driving Waits. Slap it in the car when you are driving through little towns at dusk and spend an hour with Nutty Uncle Tom at the Circus Freak Show. Couple of great Waits ballads thrown in - 'Briar and The Rose', 'Shoot The Moon'. At times subtle, occasionally annoying, often funny, could be the sound track to a Ray Bradbury screen play - by Frank IâÄôve grown to like it.

Raghu Mani <Raghu.Mani@oracle.com> (18.02.2002)

Now this one mixed-up album. On the positive side, some of the weirder stuff actually works rather well. On the negative side the ballads with a couple of exceptions are rather boring and there are far too many pointless instrumentals - one of the few things about Waits I really do not like. And what's with the religion bashing? On every album since Frank's Wild Years, there has been at least one song that takes veiled (and sometimes not so veiled) potshots at religion. Overall, I have mixed feelings for this - a little more focus on the songs and a little less on the overall concept would have made this a good album. As it is, I'd probably have to rate this, along with Foreign Affairs as one of the low points of his career.

Brian Hansne <snabelbrian@tdcadsl.dk> (18.11.2003)

Saw the play Woyzeck. And it gives all the songs the deeper meaning. They are a part of a play, and when you know the context, u see the songs in a new light. Read the play. Or go see it, in the spring of 2004 it will tour Australia, and Korea among others!!!! And it already toured the states and most of Europe with the original Danish cast. Itís an amazing play!!!! Donít miss the chance!!! Otherwise the story is also made into an opera. Here u can get an idea of the story. About the soldier Woyzeck who struggles to ear money to his girl and his child, by selling his body to medical experiments and army duty. While she is having an affair with another man. The story ends in madness and murder... live is cruel..... Gods away on business.... MISERYíS THE RIVER OF THE WORLD...

Greg Caudill <greg.caudill@insightbb.com> (19.08.2006)

In your review of Tom Waits' Black Rider you credit him as the singer in "T'ain't No Sin" when William Burroughs actually deserves that honor - if you consider it honorable. I made the same mistake, and couldn't figure out how Waits had done it, until I discovered that he hadn't done it at all. If you saw the premiere of The Soprano's new season you might've recognized his shaky, helium voice in the opening, blathering about ancient Egypt.

Otherwise, you've got a swell site.


MULE VARIATIONS

Jordan Ruud <jruudatniagara@sprintmail.com> (04.01.2002)

I actually think Mule Variations is Waits's best album - it's just got an amazing and consistent atmosphere: the ballads are indeed schmaltzy and beautiful - yet in an unpretentious way that makes them seem incredibly sincere. And there's also the brilliant surreal songs like "Black Market Baby" and "Eyeball Kid", which make me think of some Faulknerian lowlifes crawling through a swamp full of dim, glowing lights and strange echoes. It's an essential album for anybody who didn't think Rain Dogs and Swordfishtrombones were too weird.

Raghu Mani <Raghu.Mani@oracle.com> (19.01.2002)

Somehow I have never managed to get into this album. Yeah its good but there seems to be something missing. It starts off great with "Big In Japan" but after that it seems to lose its way a little (or at least, it loses me). The last few songs - starting with "Georgia Lee" = are very nice but a lot of the songs till then don't really seem to excite me. A lot of them seem like inferior versions of stuff he did before. Still, overall it is a good album - but it is a bit of a let down after Bone Machine.

jmorgan18 <jmorgan18@sbcglobal.net> (15.04.2004)

One of my favorites. For the first time since Swordfish and Rain Dogs it had a certain flavor that wasn't rather over the top, or excessively violent in sound. It's just my own taste for Waits soft and I suppose rather less progressive lyrics like those on "House Where Nobody Lives","Pony", and "Picture in a frame." These songs though viewed by most hard core Waits fans as "sell outs" are enough to get me in tears. This album had every thing, almost like a best of album that had never been written before. Soft for the Closing time crowd, Loud and genius for the post 83' crowd, and slightly glory choir for the jazz set with "Up to the House." Truly a great piece of work for any one who would listen.


ALICE

Adrian Denning <mdenster@yahoo.com> (19.08.2002)

This is one of the most beautiful albums i've heard in my entire life. Tom Waits owes absolutely nothing to my favourite album ever, Pet Sounds, but somedays, this Alice album just makes me weep and cry tears of joy. The title song is THE most gorgeous thing he's ever done, and there are similar such moments sprinkled throughout. One or two more raucous moments provide the neccessary variety, making this is one fine album. I'd place it as a personal favourite and as possibly my favourite ever Tom Waits album. That's how good it is. It takes a little time to sink in, on initial listening it seems as if Tom is doing nothing NEW, but then, the quality of the songs overcome that admirably.


BLOOD MONEY

Adrian Denning <mdenster@yahoo.com> (19.08.2002)

A bunch of fine songs, but lacks the emotional resonance of Alice. The songs aren't as good. The emphasis on the 'beating out sheets of metal' Tom Waits sounds results in a clutch of songs, like the songs from Alice, that Tom has covered stylistically before - but unlike Alice, this time round, Tom has done this sort of thing far better in the past.

Fidel Saúl Juárez Guzmán <fidelsjuarezg@hotmail.com> (02.07.2003)

I don't see what's the big deal here. Sure, this is Waits at his most cynical, but wasn't that type of attitude already an understanding? My main complaint is the relative shortness of this in comparison with Alice (which I prefer; if Fleetwod Mac or the "boss" -gasp!- got 13's, how come?). Also, what's the deal with that Klippspringer asshole (in the introduction comments section)?; if he doesn't enjoy Waits that's his bag (there was a time when everyone, and I mean everyone listened to The Beatles; guess they must be shit then), but "real bullshit this man"? What the hell, you lived with him or never left the artificial world of graphic design? (That sad sad flick he wrote about was non other than Jarmusch's 1986 Down By Law; an extremely sweet cult classic co-starring Roberto Benigni, John Lurie and Ellen Barkin: The Great Escape on a loser perspective, even wider. Perhaps the real bs likes Grease better?)

Ilya Nemetz <i_nemetz2@hotmail.com> (28.03.2004)

Disagree here. For one thing, I believe it's irrelevant to hold Blood Money to be Alice's 'dark twin', as many critics do. These albums are no twins. In fact, they aren't even relations. It's just they have been released (not recorded, mind you) simultaneously. Strictly speaking, they have very little in common. Alice is entirely predictable, virtually 'obligatory' and... (sigh) outright boring, although it can boast some undeniable moments of breathtaking beauty ('Alice', 'No One Knows I'm Gone', 'Fawn'). Blood Money is radically and essentially different.

I'd like to turn your attention to several important factors, namely:

(1) Consistency. Well, not exactly (or, at least, not exclusively) thanks to Tom, who just follows Buchner's Wozzeck (sic) quite closely, but nevertheless, this album is highly consistent (not monotonous!), as opposed to dissipated (and monotonous!) Alice or chaotic The Black Rider. The vocal tracks are exceptionally even and very strong, though I think Tom begins to lose momentum towards the end, after 'The Part You Throw Away', while the instrumentals are non-offensive (a nice enough achievement for Mr Waits, I'd say).

(2) Melodies. In my humble opinion, Blood Money showcases some of Tom's best melodies since Rain Dogs. 'All The World Is Green', 'Another Man's Vine' and, of course, 'The Part You Throw Away' are standout tracks in this respect. That's not to say Tom's compositions on Blood Money are hook-filled. But, at least, they're slightly untrivial. In fact, Mr Waits doesn't need hooks, as his impeccable vocal delivery more than makes up for trite (sometimes, intentionally) melodies. Still, it's a great delight to hear he's still able to write something as melod! ical as above-mentioned tracks. Also, I find all those musical allusions to Berg's opera quite amusing and fairly interesting (especially, Knife Chase).

(3) Lyrics. Before Blood Money I wasn't a huge fan of Tom's poetry. By no means bad, it was too plain and earthly for my taste, I guess. I mean, Gabriel's "Beyond the indigo, indigo / Where the chilly winds, winds will blow" is twice as scary and thrice as elegant as Waits' "We're all gonna be / Just dirt in the ground" is. Here, his approach is somewhat different. I'm not sure who is to blame, Buchner or Tom himself, or perhaps it's just the Wozzeck theme that suits Tom's poetic inclinations perfectly, but anyway, Blood Money lyrics impress me much, much more than average Waits poetry does. Bittersweet, deeply sarcastic, desperately misanthropic and sentimental at the same time...

(4) Atmosphere. Blood Money captures and re-creates the sickening irrational horror flavoured with black pessimistic German humour of Buchner's play ideally. I dare say Waits' rendition of Wozzeck is better, or, at least, more faithful than Berg's one in this respect (if they're comparable at all, of course). The only complaint is a listener unfamiliar with the original and/or with Berg's opera wouldn't feel the same way. Well... Let them read the original play and listen to the opera, then. They're well worth it.

All told, Blood Money is one of the highest points in Tom's long distinguished recording career. A solid 9. I would have gladly granted Mr Waits four stars instead of three, so that's a steady 13.

PS: Regarding the Wozzeck/Woyzeck double spelling. As far as I know, Buchner's spelling (or misspelling) was Wozzeck, even as prototype's last name was Woyzeck. A. Berg was reportedly aware of this divergence, yet chose to stick to the original (id est author's) spelling, naming his opera Wozzeck, not Woyzeck.


REAL GONE

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