Mr. Guy Who Changes Halfway Through His Career
*special introductory paragraph!
*Closing Time
*The Heart Of Saturday Night
*Nighthawks At The Diner
*Small Change
*Foreign Affairs
*Blue Valentine
*Heartattack And Vine
*One From The Heart
*Rain Dogs
*Franks Wild Years
*Big Time
*Night On Earth
*Bone Machine
*The Black Rider
*Mule Variations
*Blood Money
*Real Gone
*Orphans: Brawlers, Bawlers & Bastards
*Glitter And Doom Live
*Bad As Me

Tom Waits has had two separate careers, they tell me. The first half was as a bar-describing night life jazz skat piano love-lost drinking walking home at dawn lounge guy, and the second half was I'M NOT THERE YET!

(*four months pass*)

Okay, I'm there now. The second half of his career is as a clanky rhythm-filled combination of German oompah music (every song has the same goddamned bass line) and demented carnival music. Also, please note that he has 4000 cigarette butts lodged in his throat and is engaged in a constant battle to sing through them.

Closing Time - Asylum 1973
Rating = 7

I know who I want to take me home! No, come on. As most everybody in history knows, this album came out the very same year that I was born. And Tom Waits and I have been on the same trailblazing passageway ever since. Closing Time indeed it was for me that year, as I was forcefully shoved out of my comfortable womb of wine, whiskey and women into the moderntimes daylight of a hospital, squinting from the brightness and longing for the days when I could just swish around with a hose in my belly button instead of having to write write endlessly write record reviews for the King in order to avoid being beheaded. Oh, but who am I to mix metaphors? Let's get back to Tom Waits for just a brief moment before I continue telling you about the day I was born.

When Tom Waits began his career, he did NOT have the scraggly vomitous phlegm voice by which he is now recognized worldround; instead he had a lightly ruffled Sir Drinksalot slightly Dylan-esque wheeze in his throat as he sang merry romantic tales of loves gained, lost and left behind. Musically, you'll find jazzy piano, folky acoustic guitar strummin', acoustic bass bwoomping, some violins here and there (no, not there. THERE!) and some hornies a-tootin' as well. Every track is a Waits original, and all are about romance -- about driving home from her house in the morning, wishing he could have stayed longer; about seeing a girl in a bar, not talking to her, then realizing too late that he's fallen in love with her (or at least the idea of her); about leaving a mate for the call of the road; about calling up an old girlfriend FORTY YEARS LATER (presumably they were dating in the spiritual ether when they were negative sixteen years old, because Tom recorded this at age 24 and there’s no such thing as fiction); about women leaving him; about using the word "lonely" six hundred billion times in three minutes. And worst excitingly of all, "Ice Cream Man," a "Hit the Road Jack" ripoff that has nothing in common with the Van Halen cover of the same name besides the ass-dumb sexual innuendo. "I got a cherry popsicle right on time"? "Fix you with a drumstick"? Oh! Which brings me to another point!

Here we go. Need a new paragraph for a new point. What's with all of Tom's annoying metaphors? I'm all for a light-hearted comparison of text, but am I the only person alive who feels he might overdo it just a kibble? "Little Trip To The Moon," for example, with its endless reams of stupid astronomy-as-romance bullshit? And are we supposed to be impressed by the vision of a "Grapefruit Moon" when the song IMMEDIATELY before it on the album describes a "banana moon"? How many goddamned fruit moons do we need? I'll answer that question for you -- SIX. (seven if there's a really weird eclipse that makes it look like a cloudberry. God, I fuckin' LOVE cloudberries!!!! "Bakeapple"? More like "MAKESMESQUIRTINMYPANTSapple," if you ask me!!!)

But let's talk about his songwriting. Tom doesn't play rock music. He plays (on this record) jazzy stompers, piano ballads, folky acoustic guitar pluckers and Sinatra-style Tin Pan Alley pop music originals the likes of which we've not enjoyed since the heyday of the GershTwins (I totally made that up!!! I know they weren't actually twins, but isn't it a great way to quickly call attention to them as one unit? I hope so, because I've already phoned the Wall Street Journal to tell them about my new term. It starts trading on NYSE on Thursday, under the stock symbol MARK PRINDLE'S "GERSHTWINS".)

I'm not going to lie to you and pretend that this is my favorite type of music in the world, so your number ratings for these records might be higher than mine. Still, I do get quite a bit of enjoyment out of his smarter turns of piano chord ("Lonely" for example. MAN, that's some desolation in those piano chords!). Having said that, the record seems to slip a little about halfway through, mainly due to some samey piano ballads and the lousy songs I mentioned earlier. But the first half is excellent, alternately painting a great drunken nightclub lazy alcoholic mood and a Sunday morning calm-after-the-party-storm prettiness (especially in the beautiful old-timey pop ballad "Martha").

One last thing I have to rave good attitudes towards: I LOVE how Tom uses the "sustain" pedal on his piano all the time on this record, so everything sounds very soft -- like a pillow for your ears.

As opposed to a REAL pillow, which never touches your ears.

What do you mean, nobody ever told you that pillows are filled with brain-eating cancer? Why the hell do you think so many people die? Me, I'm four hundred and six because I sleep on a rusty old nail!

Reader Comments (Milos Jovanovic)
It's good that you recognize the awesomeness that is Martha, but you didn't even vaguely...well, almost, mention Ol' 55, which is a definite album highlight (just try and miss the Eagles cover of it). I personally love Grapefruit Moon, and I didn't find Icecream Man that rough, but your call dude.
I think i agree with your rating here. It does kinda drag a bit as it goes on, but i love the whole idea of the record overall. I love that it's not a rock record and the piano ballad, jazz, and folk-country styles that he uses on here. I'm also glad that you like "Lonely", because that title couldn't have been more suited for a song like that. It totally sounds like Tom alone in a room at 4 am, drunk and wishing he wasn't so alone and drunk at 4 am. It's a beautiful and emotional song, but most people i find don't like it much. My favorite song of all is "Martha" though. This one should of been a 70's classic, and i love that sustained piano sound like you've mentioned. A sustained piano sound like this is my favorite instrument of all, especially on this song, where it sounds like Tom is playing some beat-up old out-of-tune piano. Other songs i like are "Rosie", "Ol' 55" and that jazzy instrumental at the end of the record. Many songs sound samey and indistinguishable but i really like the sound of this album anyway, so maybe i'd give it an 8 just for that, despite not being fond of several songs on here. (David Torres)
I think you're pretty right on in this review, Prindle (unlike some of the other ones). First half of this album is better than the second. "I hope that I don't Fall in Love...", "Virginia Avenue", "Martha", "Midnight Lullaby" all really beautiful and smoky and minor-key feeling. On this album, he has this knack for creating these gentle, rolling pop-melodies and blending them into jazz or folk-guitar songs. Also - I just recently re-listened to this and was surprised at how well it's produced after a listen on headphones. Captures the little room atmosphere of this album really well. Hate to say this, as Milos seems like a fellow Waits fan, but I can't stand "Ol' 55". For me, it seems like Waits at his stiffest and sleepiest. But "Grapefruit Moon" is a great song, maybe the best of the second half of the album.
In your review of this platter, whilst raggin' on ol' Tom's silly metaphors, you complain "How many fruit moons do we need?" and that put me in mind of summer camp in middle school daze, where a pubescent prank called "The Fruitbowl" was all the rage, Ever hear of a fruitbowl? It's mooning someone, y'know, dropping trou and showin' off yer butt, with a little extra filip of shoving your genitalia (this is if you're male, of course) backwards, so yer penis and testicles sort of nestle beneath your butt-crack, complementing the moon with a nice little fruitbowl effect. And that's what I flashback to whenever I hear Tom ululating about grapefruit moons and banana moons, my nemesis at camp traumatizing me at 13 by showing me his anus and genitals simultaneously. Great debut album, though, from a guy who took seemingly forever to become The Greatest American Artist of The Late Twentieth Century. Seriously, Tom gets sooo much praise I keep wondering why Prez Bush hasn't hung that Kennedy Center medallion round his ravaged throat. Anyway, fruitbowl. Think about it.
MASTERPIECE. Practically PERFECT album, I say. One of the best debuts yet recorded, and yet more evidence that 1973 just might have a freaky three-way tie with 1969 and 1991 for Best Music Year Ever.

To have a threesome, that is. A sexual threesome, see. Years aren't as innocent as they put on, the FREAKS. I insist something be done about this perversion in the annals of t

Seriously now, kids. This is THE MODEL for balladic end-of-the-night songwriting--melodic, emotional, compact, to the point, not afraid to be slow-as-dirt, and thematically heavy as a ton of bricks when needed. R.E.M. DEFINITELY used this as a model for Automatic for the People--they had to. Same thing for Beck and Sea Change. (which reminds me, Mark. What's with all the swipes at the guy for being "corporate MTV crap"? (I'm paraphrasing) Don't worry, you're not the only one who says that, but--dammit, it's not RIGHT. He's just as lauded as Pavement, dangit. He just has famous producers on his side. And he does a lot of rapping, while remaining white. Eh, I suppose it's the same reason folks call Sweetheart of the Rodeo "genius" and Ropin' the Wind "corporate EVIL." Underground one-take authenticity vs. crafted multi-take spectacle? Perhaps THAT be the dichotomy, matey. Arr, etc.)

Bruce Springsteen gets all the ink, but by God, NEVER did the Boss made an album as musically accomplished as this one. Highlights include classic ballads "Ol' 55", "I Hope I Don't Fall in Love with You," "Rosie," "Martha," "Grapefruit Moon" and the infinitely sad title track, and everything in between serves as perfect transition. It's almost like the Tom said to himself, "Okay, I have no frigging clue if I'll do a Gram Parsons after this album or not; everyone famous seems to be DYING on me here. Well--might as well assume this is my last album! (in addition to being my first.) Time to CROON, son." And so he did. And so he died.

(actually, no he didn't. He just swallowed more cigarette butts. Still, that be a zombie voice on his later albums, mang)

For the record, I think both Swordfishtrombones and Rain Dogs are very well-written albums, too. I just think EMOTIONALLY, he hit a higher point here. One of the great albums of the '70's, this. And the only tune I've heard from it is "Martha." What a man (with cigarettes in his throat).

Add your thoughts?

The Heart Of Saturday Night - Asylum 1974
Rating = 6

This baby's butt of an album alternates between shake-em-down Saturday Night party jazz bippity-boppers and hung-over, peaceful feeling Sunday Morning ballads. Nearly one right after the other, back and forth and back and forth, as if a full twelve hours passes between each track. In fact, that's how the album was originally released! Unfortunately, the short-lived 1100" vinyl format didn't catch on and now I've got a whole warehouse of these fuckin things.

The melodies on this album are nearly identical to those on the last one, but -- aside from the Sinatrastic "Please Call Me Baby" -- a bit less memorable overall. Looking past the cool boogie horn/bass/piano breakdowns and the calmer acoustic plinkity/string romance noises, some people like to enjoy a lyric from the mind of a great poet. Since none are around, let's discuss Tom Waits. Half of the record follows the same love-lost-and/or-found theme of his debut, but the other 50-55% of the words is dedicated to his apparent favorite habit of frequenting nightspots, hanging out with lowlifes and staggering home under the influence in the morning. One thing's for certain though -- people cause each other pain in this world. Ladies, take it from Tom Waits -- Never love a truck driving man, because the bastard will just leave you to be a sailor. Oh -- no hang on, the track changed in the middle of that sentence. Christ, has my typing speed gone down the stinker since I sliced off all my fingers and glued them back on upside down. But you know me! I can't resist a "fad"!

What do you mean the actions of one schizophrenic homeless man don't count as a "fad"?

Reader Comments (Akis Katsman)
I really like this one. This is Tom Waits at his most mellow, so I put this album whenever I want to sit down and relax. Not all songs are memorable, but the hooks isn't this album's forte, the atmosphere is. And "San Diego Serenade" is so damn gorgeous. I'd give this album a high 8.

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Nighthawks At The Diner - Asylum 1975
Rating = 6

This was recorded live in a nightclub, even though it's all new songs. This was where his voice sudeenly became SGRAGGLY! Also the instrumention is acoustic bass, saxophone, piano, acoustic guitar, and Tom's a jokester! No, a funnyman beat poet! Lots of wordplay: "Standing on the corner of 5th and Vermouth" HAHAHAHAHHAHHAHAHAHHAH. Also he is extremely metaphor-heavy, rapping about drinking out on the town and being a bachelor, but not singing. It's a fun, funny night at a nightclub with scraggly jazz drunk Tom Waits. But don't expect any ballads! Because there aren't any! He's here to entertain you. This was the first Tom Waits album I ever heard and it made me not buy any more ever for the rest of my life. All my copies are MP3s, and the music industry is currently sucking human shit out of my penis, because my anatomy is mistaken. Thanks for nothing, Birth!

It's pretty good, but musically it's all just groovy bebop jazz ridiculousness and he's Mr. Drunk Jokester. Why don't people treat this like a real album though? It certainly is a real album! These are almost all NEW original raps and songs! And it's a double-album! And he covers that "Phantom 409" Red Sovine song! EAT MY HAIRY NUTBALLS!!!!!

No no, that's the commercial jingle for my new pharmaceutical.

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Small Change - Asylum 1976
Rating = 7

That old devil jazz is back! Mr. Scraggly Louis Armstrong Black Man Voice who's actually a 26-year-old white guy herein balks and wobbles between a healthy heaping dishspoon of staid piano/string ballads and crazy wordy “beat raps.” After the jokester comedian goodtimes of the last record, the Tin Pan Alley-era-sounding piano compositions seem surprisingly straightforward this time out, but Tom makes up for that by interspersing them with some incredibly unmusical “bee traps” (some great, some less so). Small Change also includes some of Tom's most interesting compositional ideas yet. "Bad Liver And A Broken Heart," for example, uses a constantly lurching rhythm full of unpleasant stops and false ends to accentuate a morbidly depressing (yet oddly witty!) monologue by a near-suicidal loser-in-love ("I got a bad liver and a broken heart/Yea I drunk me a river since you tore me apart"/And I don't have a drinking problem/'cept when I can't get a drink"). "Pasties & A G-String," for a second such example, pits Tom's sophomorically randy description of a Titty Bar (Featuring Live Nude Breasts) against no music except a thumping, pounding, increasingly excited hand-beaten drum (if you know what I mean by "DRUM"!!!) (big round wooden penis). If third examples are of import to you, let me suggest "The Piano Has Been Drinking (Not Me)," which combines a so-simple-a-drunk-must-have-written-it melody replete with entertainingly "wrong" piano note combinations and such hilariously intoxicating imagery as "The piano has been drinking/My neck tie is asleep/And the combo went back to New York/The juke box has to take a leak." Smart? Ah, EVER!

It's not all great though. As always, a few of the ballads are a bit too traditional chord-change-wise to bother putting much appreciation into (quite frankly, even the beloved "Waltzing Matilda" song -- which incidentally has two titles, neither one of which is "Waltzing Matilda" -- makes you sit through several boringass verse melodies just to enjoy that gorgeous romantic chorus a few times), and, as fun as "Pasties" is, it is unfortunately NOT the only melody-free “beet wrap” on the record. I'm not talking about the fast groovy "Step Right Up" “B. Trappe” - that's so fun, you'll buy a pair of skates for the sheer enjoymentness! But "The One That Got Away" is just a bunch of boring mini-vignettes set to generic improv walking bass/sax/finger snaps, and the brilliant observational tragedy the title track is wasted on an 8-minute saxophone solo.

While we're on the subject of grammar, what's with all the goddamned parenthetical phrases he uses in the song titles? Is there honestly a person on Earth who has ever or WILL ever refer to "Jitterbug Boy" as "Jitterbug Boy (Sharing A Curbstone with Chuck E. Weiss, Robert Marchese, Paul Body and the Mug and Artie)"? And did he think he was somehow making the self-explanatory "I Can't Wait To Get Off Work" more palatable by tacking on the subtitle "(And See My Baby on Montgomery Avenue)"? Christ, "The Piano Has Been Drinking" is followed by TWO parenthetical phrases! I was going to make a joke about this phenomenon, but then I realized that would be like the pot calling the kettle black.

Then I realized that pots come in a variety of colors, but by that point I'd completely forgotten what a joke was, and the best I could come up with was "I guess it's true what they say about Tom Waits -- he RAPES every 'parent_he_ses' (parentheses)!"

This statement, though quite hilarious, is nevertheless factually correct and thus not technically a "joke."

Reader Comments (Milos Jovanovic)
Tsk tsk. While I DO agree that the latter part of the album is somewhat generic barroom sax-and-banter, the first 2/3rds are as good as early Waits gets, and is enough to bail the weaker numbers. Tom Traubert's Blues appeals to me probably because I'm expatriate myself and can relate to lyrics ("I'm an innocent victim of a blinded alley / And tired of all these soldiers here / Noone speaks English and everything's broken / And my Stacy's are soaking wet"), and Bad Liver & a Broken Heart is so miserable it's great.

Btw, "four sheets to the wind" is supposedly sailor's jargon for "piss drunk". Go figure. And am I the only one to think that Bad Liver ... apes the Casablanca piano tune which Sam should never play again ?

Add your thoughts?

Foreign Affairs - Asylum 1977
Rating = 7

I have gathered an expert round table of professional college students to share their views on Foreign Affairs. No no, I don't mean the way we keep bombing everybody! Ha ha! HAHA! HEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE.

I mean the Tom Waits album. Okay, so here we go. I'll start to my left with Mr. David "Guy Who Wears A Cap." David, what do you think of this so far? Here's David. This part in quotes is what David says in just a second after I stop writing and let him talk.

David: "I think it fucks girls as well as a 27-year-old can be expected to." (David has made a reference to a poem authored by "Chazfreak" on my Linkin Park page -- Check it out if you have access to a computer some day!)

Okay. Now I'll move on to my left, with Mr. Henry The Dog.

Henry The Dog: (water drips from nose)

Now I'll move on to my left, to my spouse.

Spouse: (water drips from nose)

This round table experiment is so far a complete, embarrassing failure. I didn't realize that I surround myself with a bunch of nose-dripping girl fuckers. Now let me move on to my left, to Jake from Half-Japanese.

Jake: "It's got the quaint Tom Waits apple pie feel to it, but not the madness of the later stuff."

Now see? His nose is perfectly dry, and as far as I can tell, not a girl-fucking in sight. Now finally, to my left, R.

R: "I would have some sort of profound insight on this incredibly interesting set of boringass piano ballads, but instead I choose to defer to my friend Lou Bega as possessed by Satan."

Henry The Dog's Lou Bega Doll: "One, Two, Three, Four, Five. Everybody in the car now, come on and ride. WHHHOOAARRHHH! Mambo Number Five!"

My wife just pointed out that at an earlier, more lucid moment, R(ich Bunnell) said that the Tom Waits/Bette Midler duet on here, "I Never Talk To Strangers," sounds like the Cookie Monster doing a duet with the dog from Lady And The Tramp.

And now finally, I'll go to my left, where I am resting on my own left shoulder.

Me Prindle: "I'm told that this isn't one of his more popular records, but I'm not sure why that would be the case. I myself find it to be a perfectly lovely set of mature adult romantic jazz piano ballads and groovy walking bass goodtime “beater apps”. Lyrically, it treads through Bruce Springsteen terrortory, detailing depressing reunions with old gone-nowhere friends stuck in dead end towns and dying to get out. And me? I LIKE the Bette Midler duet! The song itself is a lovely, 30s-style torcher and it's swell to hear a smooth light counterpoint to Tom's wheezy gravelly vomit-throat belch. As for the 7 I awarded, I should stress that all of these early Tom Waits albums start off incredibly relaxing and enjoyably cool but, much like being in an actual bar where some stylistically limited jerk keeps playing the piano for 4 hours, it tends to get a little boring as the night progresses. The ballads start to sound too similar, the raps start seeming meaningless and Tom's voice begins to come across as REALLY parodic and ridiculous. But as a whole, if you're into hep non-rocking martini music with a chaser of overly self-conscious artificiality, Tom Waits isn't just your man -- he's a guy who's made some albums you should buy!"

Henry The Dog: "Now that I've wiped the water from my nose, let me continue. To be honest, I much prefer Tom's later work, especially Bone Machine. The first time I heard that, I'll never forget - I was sitting in my den enjoying a chicken rawhi - HEY!!! WHAT'S THAT NOISE OUTSIDE THE DOOR???? GET OUT OF HERE!!! YOU HEAR ME??? I'LL KILL YOU!!! I'LL RIP YOUR THROAT OUT WITH MY ANGRY DOG TEETH!!! GET OUT OF MY BUILDING!!! THIS IS MY BUILDING!!!! I'LL KILL YOU!!!!!

"Oh great. Now I'm so worked up, I'm gonna start pacing around the room and crying."

Add your thoughts?

Blue Valentine - Asylum 1978
Rating = 8

If the world had a quarter for every time I listened to this album and thought it sounded really good, the world would only have 50 cents, but that's more due to lack of free listening time on my part than a catastrophic failure of the international monetary system. Most notably, he's added some light clean electric guitar to his sound! The bass appears to be electric too! And that new electric keyboard? It runs on old socks! All these fancy modern-day instruments were bound to wreak some change on his age-old old-age sound, and that's exactly what they did. Though he keeps the quiet piano ballads around, the faster ones replace high-speed stand-up bass runs with a new-fangled Booker T. and the MGs 60s-style R’n’B blues soul sound (but in a restrained hipster way -- not the Jim Belushi Dumb-Blooze of the next record). Bestest of all, every single lyric on here is so dark, you'll do this: "!!!" -- without intending even the slightest reference to the hot young underground act of the same name.

Lyrically, here are the lovely characters you'll meet and greet throughout the evening: a girl whose boyfriend gets arrested while trying to steal some jewelry for her; a hooker who claims that she's pulled herself together and gotten married, spreading joy and holiday cheer before finally admitting that she's in jail and needs to borrow some money; a gang member who avenges his brother's shooting-by-cop by murdering said cop with a knife -- problem being that the cop shot him in the interim and he is now privately bleeding to death; a girl who leaves home to move to the city and immediately gets mixed up with a man who pretends to be her friend before robbing and nearly murdering her; a hooker who gets murdered by her john in a miserable ratbag motel; a man whose jilted lover keeps haunting him, dragging him through the mire of his guilt over and over again -- and many many more angry despairing violent young people!

Not only are the themes dark; the lyrics themselves are as evocative as any I've ever heard. Please, let me share a few: "Strangle all the Christmas carols/Scratch out all your prayers/Tie them up with barbed wire/And throw them down the stairs." "When I feel a little lonesome/And a tear rolls down my cheek/There's gonna be an ocean/In the middle of the week." "I'll take a rusty nail/And scratch your initials on my arm." "It takes a lot of whiskey/To make these nightmares go away/And I cut my bleedin heart out every night/And I die a little more on each Valentine's Day."

A few of the Medeski Martin & Wood-style jazz blues songs seem a bit nonspecific, but the lyrics, man! And that fresh production tone! We were sick of his Tin Pan Alley oldiness anyway, weren't we? You and I? If you can't be '78, you'd might as well be '68 - that's MY epitaph!

Which reminds me -- who exactly is buried in this grave that has my name and batting statistics all over it?

AUGH! I should have KNOWN it was Woody Harrelson! He's growing HEMP down there!

Add your thoughts?

Heartattack And Vine - Asylum 1980
Rating = 4

Jesus Christ! At exactly what point during the '70s did Mr. Waits trade in his alcoholic goodtime juke joint loneliness for horrific syringe-riddled violence, sickness and hatred? These lyrics are SO goddarned DARK! But I'm getting far ahead of myself. Let me start over again, near the beginning -- and much, much drunker.

You simply cannot rely on a critic to tell you what a;bi,s (albums) are good and which suck the pile of cow waste off of your upper lip (which is where you keep it because you're gay, and gay people are broken, which is why we need an amendment to keep gayfers from marrying and murdering Christ in our Pledge and calling George W. Bush the asshole he is. YOU ARE AN ASSHOLE, GEORGE W. BUSH. YOU ARE SUCH A FUCKING ASSHOLE.). He is. I'm reading a book about him right now. He's an asshole. He's the one who PIONEERED the "negative campaigning" aspect to presidential advertisements (for his father). He's a rich redneck bully. I no longer think he should be assassassassassassassassassassassasssasasasasainated, but definitely voted out next time. Murder's no good, period. Even if it's George W. Bush. But let's talk lousy Waits album.

People keep telling me this is a great album, but it's not. My wife agrees. This is Tom trying to do generic electric blues of the Robert Cray/Eric Clapton shit variety. The guitars are FAR too loud and solo-riffic for a Tom Waits album, and the whole worthless endeavor comes across as "What The Doors Would Have ended up sounding like if Jim Morrison hadn't died in a bathtub in Paris, where he sits in cafes writing poetry to this day even though he was a complete egomaniac and bank owner, according to two separate belief systems." I put a quotation mark at the end there, because I'm fairly sure I put one at the beginning, but it's so hard to tell when you are absolutely bombed off your silly head. The truth is that I SHOULD be revieiwngrwfgewqafewatfe "Blue Valentine" tonight but I'm so drunk, I don't want FUCK! I JUST BIT THE HELL OUT OF MY TONGUE! RUFF! RUFF! ERRRRR! RUFF RUFF RUFF RUFF!!! RUFF!! RUFF RUFF RUFF! That's what Henry the Dog is saying to Rich Bunnell and his two friends right now. 'RUFF RUFF RUFF RUFF!" lET'S get back to the topic.

Shitty album.

"Jersey Girl" = "Under The Boardwalk" with new lyrics. The song right after "Jersey Girl" = "Shakin' All Over" with new lyrics. The lyrics themselves are still rough as all hell, dealing with horrific street scenes of druggies, hookers, thugs, lesbians, poor young mean, death and anger -- but the music is bland eletric blues. Just generic shit! And the ballads sound straight outta Disney movies. Many people have horrible taste and like this. But me, I know that the lyrics are good but hte music is generic electric blues filled with embarrassing loud distorted guitars. For the love of God, NEVER buy this album. Tom Waits had turned 30 and probably felt that he should have progressed. But into blues rock? Shitty blues rock? No no no no nononooooon. The last song is amazing though, and you'll like the lyrics because Tom Wiats Wiast Wiats is a talented white guy. Personalllly, I don't pretend that black people are more talented than white people (i.e. Outkast), but that's okay. A lot of white people are shitheads. But a lot of black people aren't geniuses. Some are, and it's not my fault that everything's bad. You ,now whose falt it is? Geroge Bush's grandfather, who invested money for the Nazis. Vote for him again, you bunch of fucking pricks!

Bottom line: It's generic corny electric blues, and people who like it (George Starostin, for example) should shut their fucking mouths bolshevik, because it's fuckin' lame. Fuckin' fuckin' fuckin' lame.

Reader Comments (Milos Jovanovic)
Although I am as disappointed as you are with Tom's temporary U-turn from barroom loser blues to Claptonite radio-friendly blues rock, this isn't such a horrible record. Jersey Girl (which I personally think more sounds like "Kiss and Say Goodbye" than "Under the Boardwalk") is a good song - sang by the wrong man. No wonder it made its name as a Springsteen live staple. This album gets better as it progresses, as the first few tracks are the most genericky icky ick. And Ruby's Arms is, I agree, terrific. (Akis Katsman)
This album is GREAT. Both musically and lyrically. The only track that does nothing for me is the instrumental "In Shades", but does no harm to the album. The title track, "On The Nickel" and especially "Jersey Girl" all rule. Plus, the Thick As A Brick-like cover is really cool. I think I'll listen to this one right now! 9 out of 10
Jersey Girl is a keeper......... I guess.

This guy here is right though, a lot of black people aren't geniuses, they aren't geniuses because the government has a quota.... this quota is always filled with Jews or some Asian kid. George IS a Bolshevik! I should have known. Lennon or LENIN or GEORGE read a book on Marx (while the quartet practiced in the park and we all sang dirges in the dark the day the music died..... so bye bye miss american pie..... hmmm..... or something)! Why am I commenting on this album when I really have nothing to say about it all you people ask? I don't know. I do know that Springsteen's Jersey Girl is better then Waits'. you see, I have Jersey Girl but I don't own this album.... but from the sounds of it.... I doubt I will for a while.... it sounds like I would agree with Mark on this one... but we'll see. WOW, THE GUMBO VARIATIONS NEVER ENDS.

Ok, ok, I'm tired... I have school tomorrow..... darn, I wish this darn stupid school year would END like THE STUPID GUMBO VARIATIONS!!! I'm serious when I say this song has been screeching for like 20 minutes. I'm actually pissed off. Goodnight/Buenos Noches/Au Revoir!

(a few days later)

HEY!!! That comment above is from and not!!! My grandpa is trying to steal my thunder (or something), I think it's time to kill the old coot. Whatever a coot is. So all comments from are from! Not that any of this matters.
I used to love this record, but then I discovered a few of the other 37,000 Tom Waits records. I actually like the dark lyrics that are borderline comic, but then I've always liked that whole Johnny Cash "woke up this morning and snorted some coke and shot my wife" sort of thing. But yes, the album kind of sucks. I love the title track and "Mr. Siegal" but I can live without the rest. How did "Jersey Girl" ever gain a reputation for being a classic? Is Springsteen responsible?
Eric Clapton was fun whilst he was high on smack. Why did he stop taking that shit? (didnt he throw a child out a sky scraper window one time?) Anyway, Tom Waits is clearly fucking BB King heavily in the ass with this record, the sleeze, the piss, the stink of sex, the heartburn, its all on this album. In fact, of all of his 70s stuff, this is my second favorite album, second only to 'Blue Valentines'.''

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One From The Heart - Columbia 1982
Rating = 5

A long time ago, when I was a wee child of 16, my friend Mr. Matthew Terrebonne was practicing his high jump and missed the safety mat by quite some margin. His massive head injury put him in the hospital, where I chose to visit him one fine Spring day. While I was there, guess who showed up with some cameramen to meet and greet all the injured little boys and girls of the children's ward?

That's right! Former U.S. president John Quincy Adams! And what a cocaine party we had that day. You see, in 1803, when

No, but seriously. We can only joke about John Quincy Adams for so long before our country falls prey to Communistism. The actual answer to my vaguely rhetorical question was "Country music singing sensation Crystal Gayle." And holy crayola, the long hair she had! I'm a Registered Conservative Democrat so the longest my hair ever got was down to my ass, which I feel is pretty much synonymous with a crewcut (I was often called a "Nazi Skinhead With Lots of Hair"), but Ms. Gayle at age 39 had hair quite literally down to her ANKLES! Granted, it was back hair, but hair is hair and the fact remains that bald people have no friends or supporters.

My point is this: Crystal Gayle used dying children as a photo-op. Did she offer Matt a handy? Hell no. Just "Howdy-do, I'm country music sensation Crystal Gayle - look at the camera, you dying piece a shit." Then a month later, the hospital newsletter came out and there was a photo of Matt and Crystal -- and they surgically altered the photo to make it look like Matt had a big fuckin boner! It was just his knee poking up through the sheets, but that didn't prevent him from establishing a successful career in pornography.

And this is the exact problem with the soundtrack to the motion picture One From The Heart. Tom Waits wrote some basic jazzy ballads and be-bop swing tunes (similar to his earlier material), added in a bunch of really great lyrics about relationships falling apart and together -- and then allowed Crystal Gayle to treat the whole project like a photo-op with dead babies. She just doesn't have the voice for this type of material. Tom sounds gruff, depressed and ready to drop -- a perfect match for his copyrighted blend of booze, blues and Jews. Crystal on the other hand sounds overly loud, bright, clear and Hollywoody. She sounds like a bad actress - just faking her way through the lines with nothing but false emotions. Plus her voice just blows.

No, that's not accurate. Her voice doesn't BLOW. It just doesn't fit this material at all, and clashes horrifically with both Tom's gravelly delivery and his dark, smoky music. Personally, Crystal ruins this album for me. I mean, it's not Tom's most innovative release ever, but a couple of the songs are incredible, and the rest could have at least been LISTENABLE had he sung all the songs himself instead of giving Crystal approximately three solos and three duets.

Christ! Why do women ruin everything? Have you tasted this dinner!?

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Swordfishtrombones - Island 1983
Rating = 8

Peas porridge hot, everybody! Peas porridge hot! Yes, I don't think there's a man among us who will ever forget our initial experience with peas porridge hot. Remember how hot it was? And how it tasted like peas, yet had the consistency of porridge? You'll feel the exact same shimmer of butterballs running through your tummy when you unexpectedly run headlong into the most bizarre career twist since Corey Haim made the conscious decision to not be chosen for any movie roles anymore ever.

In 1983, Wom "Sharon" Taits released an album that was so unusual.... So warped...... So rotting... So tomb-sounding.... So clattering..... So pounding..... So American Gothic Industrial.... So thumpy hidden bass.... So full of pump organs, horns, bomgo-sounding clankity distortion, sick guitar twangs and crackles, unrecognizable noises and evil sentiment.... That it BLEW YOUR MIND and you DIED.

I'm told that these songs are about different characters, but quite honestly, they could all theoretically be about this guy named Frank, except for the fact that a whole goddamned rock opera about him would be released by Mr. Jones (Tom Waits) a few years later, fucking EVERYTHING right on up as far as my theory is concerned. Because to ME, this is a story of one man, but with his life's events put in all the wrong order. He is a soldier who goes on "Shore Leave" in Hong Kong and talks about missing his wife, then he sings a song about "Johnsburg, Illinois" where his wife is from, but then he kinda goes nuts during the war and screams insane nonsense about "16 Shells From A Thirty-Ought-Six," is discharged and returns to the U.S. to live a boring, soul-crushing life "In The Neighborhood." Finally, he goes out of his mind with insane jealousy that his wife is cheating on him with a "Gin Soaked Boy," and responds by burning down his home and killing his wife in "Frank's Wild Years." He then runs away from home to live in swamps as a fugitive in "Trouble's Braids" until he is finally caught, killed and sent "Down, Down, Down" to Hell. His sad mother is then left to sell off a "Soldier's Things." But, like I said, I'm apparently completely wrong and all these songs are about different characters. But an opposing point of view never killed anyone, did it???? (aside from six million Jews)

So let's talk some more about the music you'll find on Lordshitbuttbones. It's very CLONK-CLONK-CLONKy. The drums aren't drums - they're pounding and things you smack with a spoon to make tones. There appear to be bagpipes, a cool organ that Tom has to keep pumping air into to create noise (from a long time ago -- perhaps the '90s -- NO WAIT! THIS CAME OUT IN THE '80S! FUCITY F!__)/ / . He still tries on occasion to play a piano ballad or a jazz swing groove, but he just SKEWS everything with calamitous noise and THUMP-THUMP-THUMP 1/1 percussion beats. Horns are nice; don't knock horns. People say that he was influenced by Kurt Weill during the latter half of his career. The only Kurt Weill I've heard is the Dorrs' cover of "Alabama Song (Whiskey Bar)" and believe me, Tom Wait's new style sounds like that song by the Dorrs! The same oompah feel, but combined with insane carnival DEATH and DECAY. Have you ever been to Coney Island? I have. And it is this album. Except it looks different. But otherwise it's this album. God, I love the Dorrs. With their singer Jim Moribund.

I'm too clever! Check this out -- I'm the worst writer ever (someone imitating me): This Tom (Cat) Waits (a lot) album is worth the price of emission, as you squirt on your Dad (Mom dressed as a man) and it (you) is (are) great (an asshole)! People who imitate me are the sincerest form of lameasses. I'm a terrible writer and anybody who can't see that is a genius. Thank you, my fans! My name is Tom Waist, and you are a genius! How's about some - oh wait. AMERICAN GOTHIC INDUSTRIAL PRIMAL. That's what I call this new sound of Thomas Waitsurzensky (his real name).

He would sort of continue this sound for the rest of his career to date (early 2004), but with more musical aspirations. I think he perfected here, quite frankly. Both the lyrics and the music are as sick and evil as a demon with SARS. I might love the music on Franks Wild Years more than the music on here, but these lyrics are TONS more intriguing than those on that album (to be discussed at a later date).

Reader Comments (Milos Jovanovic)
Good album. I liked "In the Neighbourhood" best.

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Rain Dogs - Island 1985
Rating = 8

There is a problem with somebody like me -- like ME, for example -- trying to wrestle with the catalog or wife of Tom Waits. With the latter, I would of course offend Mr. Waits and possibly also get beaten up. Regarding the former, the problem is more embarrassing, but I can't change what I am. I can't change the fact that I am much more interested in guitar-based rock music than in Threepenny Opera (?), tarantellas (??), tangos (???), jazz (!) or any of the other crazy old musiques that Tom Waits has unearthed in his creative time upon this Planet Earth 1988. Not only that, but I'm doubly at a disadvantage because, aside from Nighthawks At The Diner (which I've owned for over a decade), I've honestly only heard all of these albums a few times each. I've been trying to read every bit of information I can find online about them (on and, especially), but I still must warn you that I'm not exactly the finest source of Tom Waits information or informed opinion. I can certainly tell you what the music sounds like to ME, and what sorts of subjects the lyrics address -- and most importantly, I can and will stress that he is an unbelievably well-musically-educated man with a tremendous talent for penning lyrics that are evocative, creepy and even heart-wrenching (when he's not too busy being clever). As a music fan, you'd be much better off spending your money on one of these second-period Tom Waits albums than wasting it on food or medical attention.

I think this is where Tommy Waits-So-Plenty started collaborating with his wife, former U.S. Supreme Court Justice Kathleen Brennan. I have no idea what impact this may have had on his writing, but if I know you (and believe me, I DO, if your diary and the telescopic photos I've taken of you in the shower are any indication), you'd want to know that there was all of a sudden some feminine input into his writing. Rain Dogs. Ah, if it isn't Rain Dogs. What is there really to say about Rain Dogs? Well, let's see. Hmm. Doopty-doopty-doopty. Hmm. Why is that thing on my phone peeling off? I can't believe I slammed my toe into the wall last night. Now it's all swollen and blue! But the album. Yes. Hmm. Well, how about this: I DO NOT LIKE THIS NEW LYRICAL APPROACH AT ALL. Apparently bored with intriguing storytelling and sharp observation, Tom has developed this wild new style of just stringing together a bunch of imagistic SHIT that makes NO SENSE AT ALL and calling it a song. Some might call it "surreal" or "obscure": I call it tiresome. I'm not mad at him! Don't think that about me! I understand his urge to try something different after all those years of being a tremendous crystal-clear communicator, and most people seem to really like it. But I'll be the voice of not agreeingment and admit that I prefer murder ballads and harrowing lost-love screams of anguish to way-too-personal-to-Tom-Waits-to-mean-a-thing-to-me over-cleverness like "Sane, sane, they're all insane/fireman's blind, the conductor is lame/A Cincinnati jacket and a sad-luck dame/ Hanging out the window with a bottle full of rain." Interesting images? Sure. But do they add up to anything? I suppose.... a jigsaw puzzle of some sort. I don't know. I guess it's INTERESTING. But I would have more faith that it all adds up to something if the rhymes didn't seem so goddamned forced. Here's another example: "Just make sure she's all in calico and the color of a doll/Wave the flag on Cadillac day, and a skillet on the wall/Cut me a switch or hold your breath 'til the sun goes down/Write my name on the hood, send me off to another town." I know I'm taking it out of context, but even IN context, it would require a very long conversation with Mr. Waits to figure out exactly what the hell he's trying to get at here. But enough about lyrics! Just because I don't understand them doesn't mean they're BAD - it just means that one of my favorite aspects of his work is not present here.

Musically, Tom has discovered a new Leonard Cohen-style whisper-wheeze-low-sing that he uses to contrast his wicked scalawag carpetbagger Bob Dylan/Louis Armstrong heeeyyyyah. And his music is as diverse as Tom Waits is ever going to be -- he does his insane bouncing carnival music with horns and clackity boom-chick drums, tangos, amelodic piano tunes, groovy blues-rock, boring guitar ballads, oompah-loompahs, multi-horn bleatings, marimbas, banjos, blues folk, warped stomping rockabilly, rednecky country with Keith Richards, generic electric blues, Rod Stewart and New Orleans sloppy jazz.

Rod Stewart? Yes! Tom Waits wrote "Downtown Train"! Granted, he ripped off the first part of the chorus from Rod Stewart's "Tonight's The Night (Gonna Be Alright)." In fact, Tom Waits ripped off his entire CAREER from Rod Stewart! Rod Stewart is the real genius here! Fuck Tom Waits! Rod Stewart wrote "Love Touch"!

Hmm.... Upon further investigation, I've discovered that Rod Stewart did not in fact write "Love Touch." It seems he was...umm... insufficiently talented.

To write "Love Touch."

Reader Comments (Milos Jovanovic)
For me, this album is the highlight of the SFT/Rain Dogs/Franks Wild Years trilogy. Singapore is my favourite example of what Waits himself dubs "the mutant dwarf orchestra" (or something along those lines), Cemetery Polka is a great song, and Downtown Train is about as effective as he got with a jab at a commercial single without losing his edge (see "Jersey Girl" for otherwise).

I would recommend the newcomers to Waits to start from the scratch though. So try Closing Time and Small Change before you dive into Rain Dogs and SFT. (David Torres)
Here is what many believe (me included) to be Waits' best. Over the top instrumentations, violent rhythms, lyrics that are so obscure they approach madness and some beautiful (yet guttural) melodies that only Waits can pull off without being lampooned as some wanna-be old black bluesman - that's what this album is all about.

What Waits is able to do on songs like the title track, "Jockey Full of Bourbon", "Tango till They're Sore" and the awesome "Walking Spanish" is create so many intertwined, rusty/clanging rhythmic compositions that repeated listens is an absolute must. One listen I'm paying attention to drums and how it responds and interacts with Waits' singing, the next I'm trying to figure out what's making one of those clanging noises in the backgrounds.
And, shit, if you want to listen to Waits' piano-work or his tortured vocals on some of the calmer more beautiful moments ("Hang Your Head Down", "Time") be my guest.
I also love the fact that on this album he brings a lot more guitar in. Those wierd, little quirky notes in some of the songs are awesome. Makes it better than Swordfish for me.
10 10 10 10!!! dammit! This is absolutely brilliant and if you don't hear that ("Prindle"sounds like some kind of Fag bitch) then you need to get your ears checked you jive ass mother fuckin punk ass bitch! (Jacob Evans)
I'm sorry, but I've got to do some disagreeing here, when you say "Tom has developed this wild new style of just stringing together a bunch of imagistic SHIT that makes NO SENSE AT ALL and calling it a song," when the fact is that out of the 17 tracks (minus the two instrumentals) on "Rain Dogs", you picked THE ONLY TWO whose lyrics don't make any literal sense.

"Singapore" is sort of a more sinister version of "Shore Leave", about sailors out on the town.

"Cemetary Polka" is about the narrators eccentric/crazed aunts and uncles.

"Big Black Mariah" is about a police car (a "big black mariah" is what they used to call paddy wagons).

"Diamonds And Gold" is about the lengths people go to to simply continue to live, or to please others.

"Hang Down Your Head", "Blind Love" and "Downtown Train" are all love songs, of one kind or another.

"Time" is about emotional stasis, and despair, and the inability to change your surroundings, among other things, and is quite possibly The Best Song Ever.

"Rain Dogs" is sort of an anthem for Waits' people--the bums, the crazies, the gypsies, etc

"9th & Hennepin" is an impressionistic street scene, and one of Waits' best spoken word/poems.

"Gun Street Girl" is about a guy on the run from the law, who eventually gets caught.

"Union Square" is about male prostitutes.

"Walking Spanish" is about a death row inmate taking his final walk.

"Anywhere I Lay My Head" is about searching for belonging, and eventually finding it within yourself.

But yeah, "Clap Hands" and "Jockey Full Of Bourbon" make more or less no sense. Still amazingly good songs, and an amazingly good album.
Ha ha, this album is something else (by the Kinks). I've seem to, for some reason, compare it with Elvis Costello's Imperial Bedroom which I think is it's antithises (I've probably spelled that wrong). Downtown Train? Bloddy great! This one is one of my favorites. I like it, I give it a 9 1/2 or maybe a 10.

(a few months later)

World War One rules!

Rain Dogs eh!

Imperial Bedroom from the the other side of the tracks......... except a bit more eclectic.... with an EVEN GREATER sprawl!

Rain Dogs, though, is one of the few albums which can overcome a great sprawl. Songs In The Key Of Life, Blonde On Blonde, Exile On Main Street, Imperial Bedroom, and London Calling also overcome their great sprawl... though some barely do. The Beatles, however, does not, neither does Physical Graffiti, but that's another subject.

From the opening insane-circus romp of Singapore to the Phil Spector-ish and muddled Hang Down Your Head to the delta-blues of Gun Street Girls all the way to the Bruce Springsteen-like Downtown Train.... yes, Rain Dogs is eclectic! But Great!

This album is a layered, dense affair which means this album may take a few listenings-to before you even BEGIN to SOMEWHAT like it, that's ok though.

my favorites: (!!!!!)

Singapore, Hang Down Your Head, Downtown Train, Cemetary Polka, Rain Dogs, Jockey Full Of Bourbon

yeah, yeah, I know.... Time and Blind Love aren't on here.... for some reason I don't like those yet.... hunh, it sucks.

Still, I recommend this album for anyone who hasn't had a taste of Mr. Tom Waits, I mean, it's one of those albums which are worth trying to like...... unlike...... say......... Disraeli Gears or Wheels Of Fire.... or QUADROPHENIA!!!! I don't know, I may like Quadrophenia some day.

Downtown Train and Hang Down Your Head are the two classics.

Downtown Train being the better of the two.

The Fourth Crusade can be directly linked to the assasination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand.

I HATE the Fourth Crusade!

I LOVE the Byzantine Empire

........... hey, this VERY mini-type-review is constructed kind of like a Mark Prindle review..... I guess I'm catching the Prindle Plague.... which is, interestingly enough, only transmitted through direct contact with fecal matter.

Be careful not to catch this disease yourself.

I just don't know where to quit.
erm.... yeah, this album just creeps me out now o.O

The whole vaudeville thing is a lot more creepier than I thought it was a year ago, LOL.

Vaudeville is creepy, and it was creepy, it was popular in a creepy time period, everyone involved in it just seem creepy. ......... gasp, have I just gone emo??

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Franks Wild Years - Island 1987
Rating = 9

Out comes the Optigan! Yay for the Optigan! I actually know a guy who owns an Optigan, though I've never seen it. There's also a neat band called Optiganally Yours that you should look into. The Optigan, you see, is an organ from the early '70s that allowed the player to insert different "optical discs" to create different moods and tones for the music he would play (Polynesian Village, Sleigh Ride, Country Sunshine, etc). But the discs would so quickly get scratched-up that if you hear one in use today, it always has a really scratched-up, WEIRD otherwordly tone to it (see for information and MP3 samples). Anyway, apparently Tom Waits used one on several songs on here, but I'm fairly unfamiliar with the various discs and tones, so you'll have to figure out for yourself which ones -- the only one I know FOR SURE uses an Optigan is "Straight To The Top (Rhumba)."

This album is about Frank, an accordian player who decides to leave his little town to try to hit it big in NYC. He fails miserably, but that's okay. He's no quitter! I don't think any of this plot is made clear in the lyrics, but I read about it on a web site in a book. Most of this sounds like German Oompah music, but it's full of good humor. Tom sings a lot of it through a bullhorn, and the music sounds really weird and old -- due both to production tricks and that darned Optigan. Too many of the songs use the same damned bass line, but that's a German thing, I guess. Horns and sick organ tones are 'round, and Tom has stated to me in the past (via an interview conducted with an entirely different person years ago) that his influences for various tracks on this LP include (1) a guy playing three organ pedals with his hands, (2) Cuban music, (5) Irish drinking songs, (6) Russian dance songs, (7) spaghetti westerns, (8) lullabies, (9) Rudy Vallee, (10) Edith Piaf, (11) one guy playing three horns at the same time, (12) Frank Sinatra, (13) nightmares, (14) Eastern influences brought to the banjo, (15) Marty Robbins and (16) gospel. It's really a strong goddamnedass shame that I can't find interviews in which Tom goes track-by-track through any of his other albums. It sure did help me enjoy this one more! If you own it, listen to it right now with my handy guide next to you (sorry - he didn't say much about 3, 4 and 17). And boy is number 12 hilarious. If you ever thought Tom sounded Sinatra-influenced in his early work, check THIS one out - an uproarious parody rivaling that of Nobel Peace Prize-winning comedian Joe Piscopo.

I really do quite love this album -- the repetitive bass lines wear thin, but the songwriting is strong, the mix is full of lovely accordion, brass and piano, and the piece as a whole is stylistically fascinating To The MAXXX! (imum)

Check this out - I'm gonna be the first person in the world to make the joke "Tom Waits For No One." Hang on one second -- okay, here I go:

Tom Hanks is Batman.

FUCK!!! I KNEW I SHOULD HAVE WRITTEN IT DOWN!!! (*angrily rips off penis, throws at Paris Hilton*)

(*sells 45-minute video on Internet*)

Reader Comments
Such an underrated album. Although I thought the Vegas version of "Straight to the Top" is funny, I also think it's a crappy version of a great song. Every other song is absolutely awesome (although "Train Song" is really just "Anywhere I Lay My Head" with different lyrics). "Cold Cold Ground", "Franks Theme", "I'll Be Gone", "Innocent When You Dream" and "Hold On St. Christopher" are some of Tom Waits' best stuff. I too think that it beats the pants off of Rain Dogs, even though most people talk about that album.
agreed, this album has such a crackly glow to it, it's been smeared in warmth, or something.rain Dogs gets all the attention because of all the obvious reasons but this is his best album of the eighties. which reminds me.....
i bought this one while living in my first share house & we played it to death on the old gramaphone. So much so that one warm drunken evening my companion & I decided to move to Portugal & I would play my old trusty guitar & he would play accordion in the streets & all would be well.
his mother was travelling through italy at the time so the next week he called her up & asked her to buy one, which she did, and send it to us in sunny brisbane australia, which she also inexplicably did.
so we were set.....
the only problem was my companion only bothered to learn one song, and only wanted to play at 5.30 in the morning, after coming home from clubs, drunk & usually with his pants around his ankles, banging into walls.

the song was camptown races.
I release massive clouds of sperm so I have a good chance of fertilizing all kinds of women. It rarely works though....... I usually end up just cleaning it up. Ok........ that was a bad, gross attempt at being funny..... which was wrong. I'm very sleepy.

I was pleasently suprised with Franks Wild Years. I thought it, like Rain Dogs, would take some a-gettin'-used-to. It really didn't.......... I liked it after the first listen or so.

Franks Wild Years has a less dense sound of Rain Dogs...... stripped down arrangements........ but more pop-like. They songs are flowing, and nicely textured... unlike some on Rain Dogs. Tom Waits' voice is really in top form on many of the tracks, I mean, listen to Straight To The Top (Vegas) in which Waits sounds like he's imitating a Frank Sinatra-like character.

There are, though, none on the this album which really match the HIGHEST points on Rain Dogs, that's ok though.... I mean, Rain Dogs is pretty astonishing.

Hunh......... if Rain Dogs gets a 9.5......... then Franks Wild Years easily gets a 8.75.

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Big Time - Island 1988
Rating = 5

Jesus, what IS it with Tom Waits trying to rip off Peter Gabriel all the time? Look at these examples:

- Names 1988 live album Big Time in cynical attempt to cash in on Gabriel's billion-selling "Big Time" single
- Names a song "Red Shoes"; claims they're that color because the "Red Rain" of Gabriel's billion-selling single fell on them
- Murders audience member with sledgehammer

It's getting OUT OF CONTROL! Christ, look at how he's trying to rip off the Pixies all the time:

- Names 1992 album Bone Machine in calculated attempt to exploit the Pixies' billion-selling "Bone Machine" song
- Names 1987 album Franks Wild Years in tribute to Charles "Frank Black" Thompson and the wild years he would soon be having with the Pixies under the name "Black Francis" before changing his name to "Frank Black" in 1993
- Gets broken face, sends monkey to heaven, says "Hey"

And have you seen ahaahfddk

Big Time features live performances of six Franks Wild Years songs, five Rain Dogs, three Swordfishtrombones, one each from Heartattack & Vine and Blue Valentine, and two previously unreleased compositions. You'd think that the inclusion of so many songs from such great records would make this disc an Instant Winner, but sadly, Tom Waits' concert recordings just aren't very interesting. In the absence of crazy percussion, woogly optigan and weird production, he doesn't sound idiosyncratic and insane; he just sounds like a guy who's only ever written two songs. There's the piano ballad and the scraggly bloozy oompah song with the accordion and horns -- everything else is interchangeable.

Sole studio track "Falling Down' is a very pretty Otis Redding-style soul ballad, and rarity "Strange Weather" is a dark Leonard Coheny oomper worth hearing. But otherwise, stick with the studio releases; this live presentation does nothing but streamline all the songs to the point where you can't tell any of them apart, and even if you could, you wouldn't think they were very good.

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Night On Earth - Island 1992
Rating = 5

So I was walking down the street yesterday calling everybody a "shit-for-brains" as usual when something humorous suddenly struck me -- could it be said that the person who invented the toilet really had "brains-for-shit"? HA HA! HA HAHA! HA HAHAAHAHAHAHA!!! HHhAAHAHAAHAHA!! YES!!! YES IT CAN BE SAID!!! AHAHAHH!!! HAHAHHAHHAHHAHAHAHHA~!~~!!!!!

Night On Earth is a comedy for art people. I saw it once and enjoyed it perfectly well, but even while watching it, I remember thinking to myself, "I never, ever, ever want to see this again." I don't remember much about it, but I do recall that it's slow, dark, talky and based around a few different taxi rides. Likewise, Tom Waits' soundtrack for the film is slow, dark, wordless and based around a few different musical motifs. A few motifs that he plays over and over and over and over and over and over and over Andover, Massachusetts: more than a place to live, it's a way of life!

Most of the soundtrack is instrumental and samey. There's a boop-de-doo up-and-down demented carnival motif that gets lots of play, and then a couple of walking-bass cool jazz things with clump-clump rhythm tracks that are brought up quite a few times, sometimes with accordions, sometimes not. You might also find a couple of cool tunes with lyrics and vocals, but just a few. Only some. Just a bunch. Only more than half. Just all.

I was just fiddling with human logic there. There are three songs with vocals, and the instrumentals (described in thick, rich, vivid detail above) are all really fuckin unique and awesome if you're that guy from Memento who forgets everything right after it happens.

No no! I changed my mind! Make that sentence read "if you're that woman from Thirty First Dates who forgets everything right after it happens."

We need to discuss something important, you and I. The subject is a matter of life and death. The subject is life and death. What's your opinion? I'm 30, my youth is gone down the toilet bowl of history and death is leering over my elderly shoulder, laughing at my rickety cane and long white beard. It's an amazing thing - when you're depressed and alone, death seems like a relief, but when things are going pretty well (although my butthole sure is itchy - I think I've been pushing too hard and my duodenum is about to lop out), it's really scary. I don't want to die! I haven't even reviewed Nick Cave yet!

Oh wait, I did review the Birthday Party though. So I guess it's okay if I die.


(*comes back in a white sheet, floating around the mansion*)

Boo! I have returned from the afterlife to suggest that this CD sounds more like a maxi-single with several remixes and alternate versions than a full-fledged CD worth listening to all the way through! Boo!

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* Bone Machine - Island 1992 *
Rating = 10

I'm not sure if I mentioned this, but each time you read one of my album reviews, your credit card is automatically charged $4.99. A few cheapskates who want everything done for them and delivered for free (I call them the "thieving MP3 generation") have asked for leniency, so I'm going to do you a favor and let me wife review Boner Machine. She only charges $1.75, so read all you want! She's heard the CD more times than I have anyway. I made her sell it years ago when I thought Tom Waits was a boring old bluesman like Eric Clapton. I just hope that she mentions (a) a lot of the lyrics have to do with death, (b) it has "I Don't Wanna Grow Up," the ONLY Tom Waits song that could have conceivably been covered by the Ramones (and it WAS! On their 1976 debut album Acid Eaters), (c) it's a very loose album with percussion that sounds like people beating slaves with chains and/or a guy taped a microphone to a horse's underbelly to record its cute little shoes walking around, yet (d) it does a terrific job of combining really great melodic songwriting and stylistic variation with the "banging on crap I found in the garage" feel of his last few albums (especially in the Johnny Cash-style C/W "Black Wings," the tremolo-driven Cramps-soundalike "Goin' Out West," the lovely piano bbbbballad "Whistle Down The Wind" and the NORMAL pop ballad filled with a hundred thousand guitars and basses playing with and over each other "Who Are You," which was neither written by Pete Townshend nor inclusive of the ass-stupid lyric "I stepped back and I hiccuped!") I should also rave about Tom's diversity re: the prisoner negro chant "All Stripped Down," jazzy "Earth Died Screaming," desolate out-of-tune gospel "Jesus Gonna Be Here" and disturbing as ALL HELL "The Ocean Doesn't Want Me" (and it is VERY sinister, if you're into sinister). Do not, however, ask me to remark about "Such A Scream," because the bass line is stolen from Jimi Hendrix's "Fire." And although that song IS in fact a scream, the whole idea of some white guy born on December 7, 1949 in Pomona, CA who wrote a song that was covered by The EAGLES ("Ol' 55," not "Teenage Jail" -- I wrote "Teenage Jail"! But when I wrote it, it didn't have shitty lyrics and boring music, and it wasn't called "Teenage Jail") stealing a bass line from the flamingest-guitar guy with an afro ever "Born In Seattle" -- AND I DON'T MEAN THE CAMPAIGN FOR JAPANESE AMERICAN REDRESS!!! I think the slanty-eyed Pearl Harbor murderer bastards look perfectly nice in their little suits, picking my cotton. In short, my opinion of Bone Machine is that it is one hell of a Pixies song. But I'm not going to review it. I'm going to leave that to my wife. These next words will be by my spouse. But be kind in your assessment of her, because she can't read or write. Also, please note that, because I wrote such a long introduction, you're still going to be charged $4.99 for this review.

I like mallards -- Spouse.

That was it, readers! Now you all have to give me a BJ!!!

What? Don't you remember our "deal"?

Reader Comments (Milos Jovanovic)
Eh...this one's too rough for my ears. But I still gave it a few listens, and it's quality, no doubt. (Eric D.)
I decided to check this out after hearing "Goin' out West" in Fight Club (that's right... the scene where Pitt and Norton walk into the bar and Norton says "Tyler and I just gave it a name"... that's when Goin' Out West" kicks in). The rest of the album is pretty solid, I enjoy Waits' voice quite a bit actually. Oh yeah, there was a video for "I Don't Wanna Grow Up," which was later covered by the Ramones. 9/10.
Mule Variations and Small Change get a SEVEN?

Heartattack & Vine gets a FOUR?!

And no reviews for Straight from the Heart, Big Time, The Black Rider or Night on Earth?!?!

Oh well. At least you gave the right album the ten. Tom's masterpiece, and by golly, does I Don't Wanna Grow Up ever tug at the heartstrings.

I give it a 10000000038475655/10 (David Torres)
I would put this one up with the top 3 or 4 Waits albums without a doubt. Has all the clangs and bells and moaning done in the Waits-melodic way that his best stretch of albums is known for. I can't believe I just picked this one up - should have had it all along. I love when he does fucked-up "space-age Gospel" stuff like "Jesus Gonna Be Here" and "Dirt in the Ground". I mean, only this white guy would be able to write songs like that. Is it just me or is his voice more croaky and screechy sounding than on any other album? "Murder in the Red Barn" and "All Stripped Down" are awesome. "All Stripped Down" sounds like it would fit in perfectly on Mule Variations. I know, Prindle, you hate Mule. Whatever....

My only problem with this one (and maybe I need more listens) is that it's just so damn depressing. Every song is about death and the gloom is not only in his voice but it's all over the sound (production) of the album. It's like his Cure-Disintegration. Even the more up-beat songs have that chuggy, odd bounce that makes you want to go out and kill (or drink). Feels like rain in every song. Maybe the last song "That Feel" makes you feel a little...uh...happier? (but only in a drunken beer-hall type of way).

Awesome listen though. I'd give it a 9 and would hang the 10 on Rain Dogs. Bone's songwriting and arrangements are probably just as good but it just seems like there's actually "hope" in Rain Dogs.
Tom Waits.......... what a guy. I really don't know what to think of him, though.

I find it hard to give a Tom Waits album a rating........ he's kind of an enigma...... or something....... kind of like the U.S.S.R.

I love "Imagine" by Lenin, he beats the hell out of that piano and a hard copy of Das Capital

Bone Machine has quite an odd mood to it....... if it's your first time listening to Tom Waits...... well, Bone Machine, for the most part, might just put you off.

But, if you know Tom Waits a little better....... the wierd songs just make you want to laugh-that's a bad thing.

There are a few normal-type cuts on here....... you know, to offset the insane person ones.

Who Are You has layers of acoustic guitars; it sounds great. Also, Who Are You, REALLY sounds like a Bob Dylan ballad.... in the Sad-Eyed Lady of the Low-Lands kind of way.

I Don't Wanna Grow Up is pretty angsty; that's not a bad thing in my book, though.

My book sucks.

The Ocean Doesn't Want Me is very disturbing......... but really.... it's pretty hilarious.

Ok............ but now I have to end this kinda really bad review.

When I get picky and look for little contradictions and things like that....... then this album gets like a 4, when I listen to it in the Beatles-type way....... I'd give it an 8 1/2.

It just seems showy.

Tom Waits is like a more talented David Bowie.

I mean, he's probably as talented (in some areas.... whatever that HUGE statement really means... I don't know) as Paul Simon, Bob Dylan, Randy Newman, Elvis Costello, Prince, Bruce Springsteen, Frank Zappa(ok, not Frank Zappa), or other guys like that....... but he hides behind things...... you know, like David Bowie..... which, I guess, is to be expected....... but you just don't get that feel with Bruce Springsteen or Paul Simon.

Still, Bone Machine is one hell of an album which I really think is leagues ahead of most artists.

ok, an 8 1/2 it is

Rain Dogs is more eclectic......... yet more balanced.

Bone Machine ends on a happy note (That Feel), though, which is needed among some of that stuff.
I have to say, this record is good. But most of it I just can't get into, for some reason, maybe because its just to weird for me or whatever, although I don't want to grow up is a great song for sure.

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The Black Rider - Island 1993
Rating = 8

Is it a typo, this sounds nothing like Tom Petty. If you're trying to tell me that two artists are named Tom, you're wrong. That would be like two bands named "Air" or two bands named "Overkill." It will simply never happen. Did anyone write a book analyzing why some music sounds happy, some sounds sad, some sounds scary, etc? I have to assume it's more than just mere association (i.e. growing up, I heard minor keys whenever a haunted house was shown, so now I'm afraid of it, and take off running whenever somebody plays The Devil's (minor) Chord, which I do, but it can---ooo, parenthese inside a parenthese. Bad grandma!

(grammar - come on, pay attention)

My item of agenda is that this album sounds "insane." Why is that? Why do I hear clunking, out of tune stringed instruments wisping off to oblivion, repetitive non-harmonic interplay and a gruff non-normal vocal and think, "Hey! Insanity!"? Especially since normally whenever I hear a song, I think, "Hey Jealousy" by Gin Blossoms, the peak of modern popular composition, especially the part about the cops chasing them around. I don't long for college life like the Gin Blossoms do (or did, before they died). When my college career ended, I stuck around for a year with the ladyfriend, then got the fuck out of town and NEVER EVER went back. I haven't even been in the STATE of North Carolina since I left for good in January 1996. I know Tom Wolfe is angry at me because we were totally gonna hang out at Pepper's Pizza this Friday (if it still exists), but life goes on. My life has gone on to ------- what? Marriage, Dog, Comfort, Books, Albums and web site web site web site. Here it is. The web site. Look how much time I've put into this thing since March 1996. A lot of time. But do you appreciate it? That depends on how shitty a writer I am. Let's move on. Also - I'm wasted.

This is the soundtrack to a play by William Burroughs and some other prick. The story is that a wimpy guy wants to marry a woman, the woman's macho father says the wimp can't marry her unless he proves he can shoot good, he goes out and realizes he can't shoot good, then makes a deal with the devil for some magic bullets (even though the devil warns him that some of the bullets are for HIM -- the DEVIL), then shoots real good for a while, but then is forced to compete in a contest so he buys another magic bullet from the devil, but this time the bullet is guided away from the target and right into the woman the wimp loves, so she dies, he goes crazy and the devil puts him in his insane Hell Circus. You can't really make this out from the lyrics, but that's apparently the story. The music is CRAZY. Accordion, ukulele, bass, piano, pump organ, pounding rhythm, raspy yelling -- all the instruments are all clogged and smushed together 'til you can't tell what's IN the mix and what ISN'T. It's VERY cool, and there are also some really eerie whistling noises that are either (a) singing saws, (b) someone rubbing their finger over a glass, (c) that asshole thingy they play in "Whole Lotta Love" or (d) Judge Wapner.

It's not a mellotron. What is it. A THEREMIN! THEREMIN! THEREMIN! ETC. Very odd music, like Satan's Orchestra or Foetus with less industrial fake drums and reverb. If you're into the sicko side of Waits and don't mind a little repetition (not as much as Night On Earth, but still some), then you gotta buy The Winona Ryder. There are a few pretty ballads, but most of the compositions are minor-key, twisted collections of bits and pieces that just do NOT go together. It's as crazy as Helen Keller! Remember how crazy she was? She was a Socialist! That's INSANE!!!!

Today's important lesson: The CIA has deals with a lot of drug dealers in other countries. The CIA looks the other way while they pump heroin and cocaine into the country so that they give us information about, say, China's military or South America's plans, etc etc. In other words, the "Just Say No" campaign is a bunch of bullshit. The only reasons that there are so many drugs in the U.S. is (a) prohibition keeps the prices super-high and in the hands of criminals, and (b) the CIA keeps making the DEA stop their investigations if they get too close to somebody who is "helpful" to the CIA in other foreign policy issues. The whole thing is a joke. Just Say Yes.

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Mule Variations - Anti/Epitaph 1999
Rating = 7

Say, have I mentioned Tom's pump organ yet? On these later albums, he plays it a lot. It's all wheezy like a moaning animal, bringing even more illness and mental irregularity to the records. But to the point, Tom's sophomore debut Mule Mule Mule Mule Flop-Eared Flop-Eared Flop-Eared Mule Mule Mule Mule Mule Flop-Eared Flop-Eared Mule Variations is his first release in a while to leave me feeling as if I've heard it all before. Bits and aortas of it are new -- the distorted human beat-box rhythm of "Big In Japan," the brilliantly paranoid nosy-neighbor complaints of "What's He Building?," the luuurching scraping death of "Black Market Baby" -- but the songs themselves are just not very scintillating. Usually he leaves me feeling awed and uneducated -- this one just leaves me sleepy.

Part of the problem is that it's chockful of basic blues songs and ballads that drag like a dead body (Sean Hannity's, for just one possible example or suggestion). Sluggish, lumpy, limping blues, ballads, gospel and clunky-blunk noises. I suppose if you'd just as soon miss out on the German, Russian crazy carnival lunacy and are just looking for a solute of early Tom Waits piano and folk songwriting mixed with a solvent of new-fangled trash bashing crashing and smashing, this is a decent solution or mixture. And the lyrics are plenty good -- one song is about a kid that's nothing but a big EYE (he of course joins the carnival), others are sung by homeless drifters, romantics and aging folk, all with an interesting tale to tell or bit of wisdom to relate. But between the constantly half-dead energy level and a few fingersfull of truly worthless material ("House Where Nobody Lives," "Chocolate Jesus" and "Filipino Box Spring Hog" = the worst Stones ballad that Van Morrison ever sang but not really on either counts, a one-thirtieth-written jug band disaster and a Rhythmeen-era ZZ Top techno/rap/blooze outtake), one might start to think (if one were inclined) that it's about time for Tom to take another walk down to Creative Avenue. And then he'll be able to take it higher.






Reader Comments (David Torres)
This one gets a bum rap from many because after a five year hiatus everyone was expecting a masterpiece. Everyone expecting Waits to re-invent himself once again. Well, he doesn't do that but what he does is brings the songwriting-musicianship of earlier work and melds it with the swordfish/rain dog era of wild production and strange instrumentation. This one also suffers when it's listened to in the timeline of Waits' career (which I'm going to guess Prindle did here). Or something like that.

For me, there's only a couple low-lights on the entire album. "Hold On", the generic lullaby-ballad Waits includes on most of his albums, drags and is way too long. Almost everything else is interesting and worthy of attention.

"Big in Japan" pounds. "Get behind the Mule" forces you to get up and do something illegal. "What's he Building" is funny as hell in a seriously disturbed way. "Flipino Box Spring Hog" makes me flippity flop all over the flappity floor. Which reminds me - nice flip flop sandal jammy jams you have on there, Prindle. (and what's up with that Mr. Weatherman-stance/smile)

This is one of my favorites but that's just me. I give it a 9. (Matthew Sykes)
Tom sounds like he some sort of mental illness that keeps him from relating to what people value in a person. From the handful of songs I have heard and the few album covers I have seen, it's seems like he can't decide whether he wants to be more of a mic or an unappreciated alchoholic sojerner. I call him a mic because he sort of sounds like all that shit the pogues put out later in thier career (and maybe thier begining). But what boggles my mind the most when it comes to Tom Waits is the fact that critics really appriciate his work as well as overtly emotional and fucked up alchoholic wannabees. Keep in mind that I don't own any of his music and the closest I have come to paying attention to a whole Tom Waits song is when I tried listening to Mule Variations after checking it out of my local library. "Big in Japan" was sort of cool for about three listenings. I realized that "Big in Japan" really isn't very fun after listening to the rest of my collections and felt let down. Some of his songs seem to be stupid versions of "Alabamba Song" without whatever makes that song as tolerable as it is. From what I can tell from his album covers he likes to hang around faggots and nobodies. All in all, I think he is severly overrated.

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Alice - Epitaph 2002
Rating = 8

When Tom Waits sat down to write a rock opera about Alice Cooper, he wasn't -- hang on one sec. I gotta take this call from Donnie Rumsfeld.

Hello? Yeah.... Okay.... Well yeah, I'd say it certainly IS likely that they're working on weapons of mass destruction - not to mention all those brown people they harbor. Terrorists? Hell yes, they're terrorists! Duhhh, no, they're wearing turbans for their HEALTH. Deeuuuur! I mean, hello!? My recommendation is to send in our men post-haste. Okay, excellent. Hey, did you still want to go see the new Scooby Doo movie this weekend? Okay, cool! Just give me a call. Bye-bye!

Sorry about that - just having a little diplomatic issue with every single member of OPEC. When Tom Waits sat down to write a musical about pedophile Lewis Carroll's obsession with a little girl named Alice, the last thing on his mind was making a better album than Mule Variations. After all, he wrote Alice a full seven years before Mule Variations came out! However, he succeeded at achieving what I personally wanted him to, retroactively. This piece of work takes Tom into a stunning orchestral direction of sweet violins, pianos and horns with nary a guitar or clangy percussive commotion to be seen for miles around. Some of it is quite Leonard Coheny in its minor-key grown-up mature doldrums, but man overboard is it BEAUTIFUL! Just as Rob Dylan surprised grunge fans with the gorgeous Blood On The Tracks in 1975, Thom Waits is going to swoon you off your feet when you hear his 2002 release Alice. And fans of retarded extravaganza music, lest you fret -- Lewis Carroll's obsession wasn't healthy, and some of the music certainly reflects this fact. Regardless of what they tell you at Band Camp while you're masturbating into a tuba (at least I would have to, because my cack's so fackin' bag!), strings and brass can be just as evilly off-kilter, maddening and eerie-DEscent as instruments that aren't played by fags, like a guitar or electric bass.

Lyrically, Mr. Waits and his beautiful wife Kathleen Turner have strung together a heartbreaking masterpiece of depression, obsession and that-which-one-cannot-have. Here here -- a few examples:

"And the tears on my face/And the skates on the pond/they spell Alice."

"If we are to die tonight/Another rose will bloom/For a faded rose/Will I be the one that you save/I love when it showers/But no one puts flowers/On a flower's grave."

"The rain makes such a lovely sound/To those who are six feet under ground/The leaves will bury every year/And no one knows I'm gone."

"And I can come down to the harbour/And then I will fill the ocean/Back up with my tears/I still have a couple more years/And then I can come back to the harbour."

"Someone turn the lights back on/I'll love you til all time is gone/You haven't looked at me that way in years/But I'm still here."

"A song of a little bird/That fell in love with a whale/He said: you cannot live in the ocean/And she said to him: You never can live in the sky"

"And the train whistle blows/And the carnival goes/Till there's only the tickets and crows/But the grass will all grow back/And the branches spell Alice/And I belong to you."

"You couldn't afford college/You took a night class/You made a clay dildo/And shoved it up your ass." GODDAMMIT, WHO PUT THIS ANAL CUNT LYRICS SHEET ON MY TOILET???

Sorry about that. I do most of my writing while passed out in the shower. My point is that this is a bittersweet symphony of a Lolita winter-summer romance that could never be. Because it's ILLEGAL TO FUCK LITTLE KIDS, FUCKING LEWIS CARRAFUCKOLL!!!!! (scumbag)

Reader Comments (David Torres)
Wow - I would have never thought Waits could put out something this sweet. It's really beautiful music. "Alice", the title track, might be my new favorite song from him. It's a softer Waits but not a wuss Waits. Oh hell maybe he is a wuss now but it's still good.
This is really good stuff. I could see Tim Burton playing this at his wedding. Tom Waits really nails the ugly voice/ beautiful song thing here and throws in a couple o' madman spazout thingies to lively it up. And two cheers to Tom for writing /singing the theme songs for the great shows The Wire & Insomniac. I say 9 out of 10.

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Blood Money - Epitaph 2002
Rating = 8

Aaaaah, I LOVE Rush! "Blood Money goes around the world! Blood Money underground!" NEEER! NEERERER!!! DOODLY-DOODLY-DOODLY!!!! PITTAPA-PITTAPA-PITTAPA -- PISHSSHHHHH!!!

When Ted Bjorling decided to record the electronica album Blood Money in 2000, the last thing on his mind was the opinion of fellow electronica artist Noreaga. For although Noreaga had released his own Blood Money, Pt. 2 LP just three years earlier, it's hardly a little-known fact that rapper Azie's 2003 Blood On My Money would eventually eclipse the entire subgenre of CDs thematically linked to both "blood" and "money." After all, would a nation EVER be able to forget the horrifying 1999 battle between rapper Lil' O's Blood Money and archrival J Mack's Bloody Money? Not on your - or anybody else's, for that matter - life. Perhaps rapper Mac T. put it most succinctly on his show-stopping millenium release It's Blood On'Nis Money, when he stated, "Dance In A Skirt."

Thus, this album. It's too soon tell whether Tom Waits will become a victim of the dreaded Blood Money Curse (every other artist listed above was later found drowned in a hole filled with blood and money), but it's so goddamned good, we can only hope he lives 4Ever!!! And keeps issuing albums 4Ever! Except then the rest of us would be dead and wouldn't get to hear them.

This album is filled with spine-tingling insanity-driven carnival music and a late-period-GG Allin-style Cookie Monster voice. But it's dark music ith JAZZ instruments. Scary -- and did you notice that a lot of his latter material seems to have Raymond Scott's cartoon music as an influence? I have. And will continue to do so. There are some REALLY great chord changes and offerings on here. SHORT songs. Pump organ, violins, horns, piano -- the most demented jazz you've heard in days! Days? Hell - FUCKS! Please don't ask me about lyrics because I can't find them online anywhere and I only have an illegal CDR of it. You are so mad at me now! I'm sorry. I'M SORRY! One song is callecd "Everything GOes To Hell" and the big hit single that Paul McCartney will cover for a movie is "Go'd s Awa y Shoving Businesses To Roaring B"

I don't want to write. I want to keep drinking and bury my pain. I have pain and fear and anxiety. A lot of it. You don't know the half of it. You're not my psychiarrtist, but you are my reader and my friend and deserve to know the truth: the truth is that my OCD is back and things are, under the surface, very sick, dying and horrible. Please forgive me for any horrible acts I might commit.

That was far too dramatic. I'm not going to commit any horrible acts. Believe me. Murder is for assholes and suicide is for cowards. I am neither. Boy -- this is a great album if you're into the DARK side of Tom Waits! And you should be! Wouldn't it be nice to have a Tom Waist? Supposedly your waist is supposed to be a "six-pack" but mine looks more like a "bottle." I'm a fat piece of shit, if 165 pounds at 5"10 and a half is

But you're here for music descritption. These chord sequences are so bizarre! Supposedly this album is based on some story, but stories are for librarians to figure out. The important thing is that if you're in the mood to be chilled to the bone with fuckin' crazyass carnival podiatry (or a word that actually means what I'm thinking right now), then BUY BUY BUY from Circle K a copy of Todd Bridge's Bloody Mony Mony.

I need you. Please keep reading my reviews.

Reader Comments
We need you too Mr Prindle. I've been a fan of Tom Waits for years now and Blood Money is his best album yet. It's even better than Rain Dogs. Hell, it's better than Sandinista, Screamadelica and Nevermind. It's not better than Rastaman Vaibration but it's almost as good. This record tells us that we're all gonna die but there's still love in the world. It makes a grown man cry. Now give us Leonard Cohen review. Please.
absolutely fantastic album! i'm not even sure how to describe exactly why i love it so much. the instruments, the lyrics, the melodies....they all add up to this turbulent effect that just leaves you baffled at first, and then coming back for more.

and i love those short songs, like "lullaby." so gorgeous.

i give it a damn 9.

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Real Gone - Anti/Epitaph 2004
Rating = 7

I totally voted today, for president and shit. It was tough choosing between Jim Carrey and George Burns, but George Burns is a scumbag liar and corpse so I made the valid decision and voted for a little-known third-party candidate (Steve Jenkins of the "Kiss Fan Club" party). An interesting thing about voting is that you turn the red thingy all the way to the right, then turn all the little black thingies til an X shows up, then turn the red thingy all the way to the left, which erases the X's. Supposedly it records your votes, but to me it just looked like I was erasing them! Is this another one of them fancy Republican tricks to keep us dumbassed minorities from voting? Listen you goddamned Republicans, we may be a bunch of illiterate Mexicans with ten cars parked in our front yard, but you'll NEVER silence our votes!!!! (Except for 2000, when you silenced our votes) Another interesting thing about voting is that some people actually *LIKE* George B. Wush. These people (ex. Dennis Miller) are evil. Except my Mom, who just hates Communists. And who's more Communist than a couple of millionaire lawyers??? I'll tell ya who -- LIBERALS! Fuckin' Jane Fonda (Hanoi Fonda). Take your Smokey and the Bandit Oscar and shove it up your red ass! Fuckin' Sally Field. (Sally Hanoi)

As for Tom Waits, now see I reviewed the entire Tom Waits discography about six months ago. At that time, I was "in the zone" and taking the whole cadre of Waits material to heart and soul, giving him my forethought, my brainspan and my spirit's content. But I haven't listened to him at all since then. Being now totally "out the zone," I'm finding it quite difficult to get excited about more than five or six songs on Real Gone. Its main problem is a disturbing lack of memorable melody. Featuring like NO piano, the album is instead built around tons of shakity rackity percussion, '50s-sounding guitars and Tom using his own voice (through distortion effects) as rhythmic noise. The mood is pleasingly rickety and shambolic, and I'm wild about Marc Ribot's guitar tones from a long woebegone era (vibratoed exotica! reverbed garage Elvis!), but the melodies are so traditional and overreliant on blues and early rock cliches that it often feels like a (particularly NOISY) album of cover tunes. You know, like Elvis Costello's top-selling Kojak Variety LP or Duran Duran's career-defining Thank You frisbee.

Another pile of shit is the lyrics, which are a bunch of impressionistic borefests of dull words and drab images, exciting the tangible only in the old-school-Waits nighttime anti-war ballad "Day After Tomorrow" and the Leonard Cohen soundalike three-penny opera murder tale "Dead And Lovely." Other standout tunes (though not lyrically) include the sleazy exotic "Hoist That Rag," an excellent 10-1/2-minute ominous Hawaiian blues tune called "Sins of My Father," and the time-signaturely interesting "Trampled Rose," which features the most compelling vocal hook Waits has given us in a coon's age. And by "coon," I presumably and hopefully mean "raccoon." Otherwise my immediate family is a bunch of fucking racist assholes!

Real Gone to me is essentially the Heart Of Saturday Night of Waits' eccentric modern era; like that shitty album, most of these melodies revolve around simple bluesy guitar riffs, but as you'd expect from a modern Waits release, they're backed by quite the unpredictable ruckus of crash-bash-smash percussive noises. It has its fine upstanding moments, but too many of the songs are built upon forgettable chain gang wailing, dull blues/rockabilly riffs, and retreads of the same old Weillian chord changes he's been using since the lights went out in Georgia that one time. Plus, the dull bloooze howler "Make It Rain" contains what just might be his lamest lyrical couplet to date: "I'm not able/I'm just Cain - make it rain!" Good one, Tom! Keep it up and those Barenaked Ladies will be stinking green with envy!

Also, don't stick your finger too far up your butt. When you pull it out, your butt hurts!

I read that somewhere.

Reader Comments
You sound like you hated the album. Why;d you give it 7 stars? (Eva)
(Jeeze, what a grouch.)

Hello Mr. Prindle,

Okay - I have to give you the one about Abel/Cain, I kind of winced at it myself. But the rest of the song, ...SCREAMIN' JAY HAWKINS!. Only better. The thing here is, you need to get back into the "", 'cause as it stands, you don't know nothin' about what you just reviewed. "Green Grass" has no melody? The "...same old Weillian chord changes"? (Actually, it would be good if you're right about that - then you could send them to me - I sure can't figure them out.)

Well, I think you're cranky and you pretty much missed it. But you're pretty funny - I don't think I've laughed so much just from reading a review. "Featuring like NO piano,..." And, "...spine-tingling insanity-driven carnival music" (I had to stop writing so I could read some more.) Best not mention Tripod or Molly Hooey, huh. Hee.

Good writing. Stinky review.
I'm interested if you still feel the same way about real gone. It took me a really long time, and I just gave up on it after awhile. But then I had a week on my own at work with nothing but alice, real gone, blood money and franks wild years, and having listened to it twice a day for 5 days I just love it. It's now up there with my favourites. If you stopped listening, I would give it another try.

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Orphans: Brawlers, Bawlers & Bastards - Anti 2006
Rating = 5

If you're a big Tom Waits fan, put down that computer and go buy this triple-disc of rare, unreleased and new songs post-haste! (unless you're going to buy it on that computer, in which case please click on the link at the bottom of this page so I get a cut). You don't need to know what some yahoo on the Internet thinks about it (see that? I write 'yahoo,' I have to follow it up with 'Internet' - THAT'S successful marketing); all you need to know is that it's FIFTY-SIX tracks long!!! And you LOVE Tom Waits! Do you realize how fast I'd be whipping out my wallet (penis) and yanking out a twenty (penis) if somebody released three discs of rare Cows material (penis)? I'd be all over that shit like flies on an album! But what am I saying? You're not a fool! You're not even reading this - you're out buying this box set RIGHT NOW! I'm totally just preaching to the converted! And I do mean 'preaching' - I literally went to church school and became an ordained minister just so I could write this review!

On the other hand, if you're like me -- less an actual fan of Tom Waits than an admirer of his intelligence and idiosyncracy -- you're probably gonna wanna let this one go, as it's not so much 'intelligent' or 'idiosyncratic' as it is 'long.' Really REALLY 'long'. So long that by its end you'll swear that Tom Waits has only written three songs in his entire life, and all the others are just remixes.

The 'schtick' is that each disc represents a different side of Mr. Waits (Brawlers are Blues Songs, Bawlers are Ballads, and Bastards are All Those Noisy, Clanky Weillian Three-Penny-Opera Songs He's Been Doing For The Past Fifteen Years). Some will be familiar to Waits collectors (8 are from movie soundtracks, 5 from tribute albums, 3 from non-tribute compilations, and 1 from a CD-single), but most are new or rare, including a second Ramones cover ("Danny Says"!), two old blues chestnubs, "Goodnight Irene," "Young At Heart," a Charles Bukowski recitation, a hilariously morbid 'children's story,' a godawful old folk ballad, and more MORE MOORE! MOOSE!

I will now present a brief review of each disc, as if you could purchase them individually. HA! FAT FUCKING CHANCE!!

Brawlers, a new blues CD by Mr. Tom Warts: Like many of today's young people weaned on Ween and raised on Raisa (Gorbachev), I find blues music tedious, predictable and brutally repetitive. I don't deny its historical importance, nor the emotional resonance of its earliest appearances on vinyl (Robert Johnson and what have you), but my brain seeks new information and/or really loud guitars and a guy playing drums 900 miles an hour - neither of which are to be found in modern-day interpretations of salty old Blooze music. This disc features exactly three exceptions to this rule: (a) a raucous Rolling-Stones-through-blown-speakers interpretation of the Ramones' "The Return Of Jackie & Judy," (b) an eerie, minor-key take on "Sea Of Love," and (c) an excellently melodic political epic entitled "Road To Peace." The rest can go take a dump in a lake. If you like generic blues progressions with shambolic percussion, go for it. After all, it's got plenty of harmonica! Brawlers gets a 3 (out of 10).

Bawlers, a new CD of ballads by Mr. Tom Weights: This is the most melodic of Tom's three new releases, but it's still not all that consistent. Oh sure, it's nice to hear Ol' Gravel-Voice actually singing notes instead of shouting and ratchety-clamoring, and the piano, accordian, horns and oboe are lovely instruments to behold in any balladic situation. However, a handful of offputting lounge jazz bores, old-fashioned musical cliche's, and soft minimalist acoustic guitar nothings ultimately suck the spirit and life out of any listener fool enough to sit through all 20 tracks at the same time. Especially if you literally play them at the same time, on 20 different CD players like Zaireeka. God, talk about a putrid listening experience.

God: "Anything by John Mayer!"

But enough of my semantic gaggery. Bawlers gets a 6.

Bastards, a new album of clunky gravel-voiced yowlers by Mot Orhead: Sure, I like bastards - especially making them. But this CD is about as top-heavy as Jayne Mansfield with 40 pounds of snakes on her tits! Am I the only one who notices a drastic downturn in quality about halfway through the disc? At the beginning, you get all this bizarre stuff like a children's story featuring the line "The Earth was an overturned pisspot" and Tom playing the role of an entymology professor and a Skip Spence cover and a threatening industrial-rap-metal rocker (Tom-style!) and a couple of short weird organ pieces and then SH-BORP halfway through he suddenly starts playing nondescript piano and organ ballads that should have gone on fuggin' Bawlers if not outright erased! Then there's more of that distorted-vocal-percussion CRAP he did all over the place on his last album, and an unbegoddamnedLIEVably annoying Daniel Johnston cover over King Kong - oh, spare me! In fact, sparse me! No no - SPAR me! (*BEATS YOUR GODDAMNED ASS*) (unless you're big, or strong). Bastards gets a 5, much like the new Tom Waits triple-CD Orphans.

One final note: the disc ends with two 'bonus tracks.' Now you young people may not be aware of this, but back in the day we had what you call 'record albums.' And then one day somebody invented a cassette tape but let's skip that boneheaded disaster and move on to compact discs. When the nation's top record companies began releasing CD versions of their album catalogs, some decided to offer consumers more value for their money by including rare outtakes, b-sides or remixes at the end of the discs as special 'bonus tracks.' It was a swell idea that caught on like one of those fuzzy things catches on your shirt (I've heard them called 'hitch-hikers' but I don't know what the actual name is). However, long after vinyl record albums went the way of the passenger dinosaur, new CDs like this one continued to be released with funny little covers or remixes at the end as 'bonus tracks.' But see -- and I won't speak for this album in particular because for all I know Anti actually did release it on vinyl -- but MOST of these new CDs were never issued on LP in the first place. And I don't mean to sound argumentative or crotchety here but if the very first pressing of a CD includes a silly little cover or remix at the end, that song isn't a bonus track - it's a track.

You fucking asshole!

(that was me yelling at the track for calling itself a bonus track)

Fratboy One: "Oh wow! This new Limp Bizkit CD has 11 songs on it!"
Fratboy Two: "No it doesn't - those last two are bonus tracks."
Fratboy One: "Oh. Fuck that then."
Fratboy Three: "Can you guys keep it down? You'll wake up this girl I'm fucking."

Reader Comments (Berny, Worc's, UK)
I rate it plenty more than that Mark dude. I got all of Tom Waits CDs bar Night On Earth. I know it's early days for this one, but I would put it in my top six or seven of all 20-plus CDs - veering to a high-end 8/10. I really, really like Bastards in partic. Stick with it, fella.
i can't even begin to tell you how disappointed i am in the 5 you gave to orphans. as far as this guy can tell, it's a fantastic mix of all the great things he does. and giving a 3 to the brawlers cd??? come on! that's the best shit on the whole set! dirty fuckin blues out your ass!

you do have a point with the whole concept kinda falling apart in the bastards cd. but i don't really care. i forgive him. i would forgive tom waits if he killed my first born son. i'd just laugh it off and say "can't wait for the next album!"

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Glitter And Doom Live - Anti 2009
Rating = 6

So heres's the deal, im a senior this year and i like this guy named Tom Waits. I thought he was pretty cute last year and we'd make eye contact and stuff. so i was talking to my Norwegian guy friend Eirik Usterud and he's like best friends with my crush. so i was like hey imma send him a message on myspace that told him to text me. he texted me. he has a gf and there are a lot of comments on his pictures on myspace, which shows im not the only one interested in him. So he thinks i'm cute, he's told me that. And i told him i thought he was hot (all over text) so then a few weeks later he texts me asking to hang out at his house cuz his parents are gonna be outta town so i should come over and listen to his new live double-CD. and put a lil wink face.

So I went by and stuff and at first I thought the CD was wicked awesome. it had this 5-piece band and the first disc was compiled from 13 different concerts. but then after a while it was all starting to sound the same, so i said "ur not gunna play the whole thing, r u?" im gunna be 17 in less than 2 weeks. i smoke, drink, all the shit you can think of, but one thing i dont do is listen to a bunch of oldtimey bob seger shit. i mean the growly dark stuff like "Get Behind The Mule" and "Dirt In The Ground" was sooooooooooooo kewl but there were so many piano ballads and blues-rock songs that were interchangeable - i thought they sounded much more diverse in their original studio recordings. Plus he's so confusing - my friends always ask if he likes me and hes always just like naw shes my bestie, but they think he just says that so its not weird in our group of friends.

So then he puts in the second disc and it's just him TALKING! Saying all this wierd stuff about how vultures have to throw up before they can fly, and rats only eat to grind their teeth down, and elephants are packing mud into their bells so they don't ring, and shrimp never give anything to charity because "they're shellfish" (lol) and how he went on ebay to buy a ton of parrot diapers, and how he ingested pond water and the doctor found 3 toads in his stomach, and i'm all like WTF. I mean, some of it was hilaroius but a lot was dum and just didnt go anywhere like a bad standup comedian.

So i finally i decided to change the subject just to get him to talk and i said "Have u ever spoken to a fucking asshole and all of a sudden they tell u, u need to see a shrink...simply because for example ur a social outkast even tho! u talk to that person talks to u.......but cuz the person is an extravert and can't stay one second ALONE they have to talk to alot of ppl to feel good. Well in my case all the fucktard does is agree with other ppl? WHY!? cuz it's what is socially acceptable.......w/e they say...that is...even if the person doesn't even KNOW U!!!!!!! like is a fucker for example says that girl looks weird...she needs to see a shrink he'd come back to me and say that even though i've never done anything to have to see one."

I thought it made perfect sense, but he just stared at me. Finally he goes "If you can't appreciate 'Make It Rain,' then I dont know what to tell you." And I was like "whatevs (ha ha). It just sounds like another shouty blues song to me, and that line about 'I'm not able/I'm just Cain' is soooooo lame." So hes all "that's cause your a girl. go listen to your Britney Spears CDs some more." And Im like "hey dont blame me just because you played 5 Real Gone songs, 3 each from Bone Machine and Orphans, 2 each from Mule Variations and The Black Rider and 1 each from Blood Money, Big Time and Rain Dogs, and STILL managed to make it all sound like it was the same two songs over and over!" So then he started crying and said he was going to cut himself if i didn't leave. he looked serious so i left.

im so pissed at myself.



so then a few days later i saw him at my work (i told him a month ago at that time where i worked) he kept looking at me and stuff but never really said hi. so i texted him a few days later and told him to say hi next time. Then he said my friend that worked there was fine... and i was like WHAT? My friend doesnt think its a coincidence because i told him i worked there. He's the player type. And i dont know what to do. He's going to college after december, and then he'll probably record another studio album.


Actually, never mind. I just found another boy who's even CUTER!

Reader Comments
This is one of the best reviews you've ever done. That yearbook picture of Tom Waits is absolutely incredible.

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Bad As Me - Anti 2011
Rating = 8

We all know what to expect from Tom "G. Warrior" Waits at this point, but can't we still enjoy him, just for being him? Of course we can -- especially when he gives us so many heartfelt melodies and scraggly-good stomptones. Not to mention that silky voice so smooth, like melted butter dripping down your throat (where it lands in the trash compactor you call your voicebox).

Featuring a virtual smorgasbord and veritable grab bag of rickety r'n'b, creepy old blues riffs and '50s-tinged electric guitar riffin', Bad As Me dips its gravelly toes into pretty much every greasy genre pond Waits has ever enjoyed, including:

- NOISY BELLOWING ONE-CHORD ANXIETY: "Chicago," "Bad As Me," "Hell Broke Luce"
- WEEPY BALLADRY - "Pay Me," "Back In The Crowd," "Last Leaf"
- VOLT/STAX R'N'B - "Raised Right Men," "Get Lost"
- DEM EERIE DEVIL BLOOZE - "Talking At The Same Time," "Face To The Highway"
- TORCH JAZZ - "Kiss Me"
- HOLIDAY WALTZ - "New Year's Eve"

So yes, we've sorta heard all this before. But does that make it "Tom Waits on Auto-Pilot"? I don't think so. Yes, it sounds exactly like you would expect it to sound, but that's the nature of following an artist with his or her own personal style. Some songwriters flit from sound to sound throughout their career (ex. Beatles, Ween) and we love those artists to chopped-up little pieces, but others (ex. AC/DC, Motorhead) find perfection the first time out and spend the rest of their careers simply writing new riffs to plug into their trademark sound.

Mr. Waits' personal style already trumps that of most artists by encompassing three types of music (bluesers, ballads and insane percussive ranting) but what really makes his albums so eminently enjoyable is the freshness and energy he brings to these musty, cobwebbed old subgenres each time out. The man has tremendous charisma, and that's why his anachronistic approach to music-making never gets old. Face it: his records are far more fun than they have any right to be, considering (a) he hasn't done a single unpredictable thing in 20 years, and (b) he's playing the kind of music your great-great-grandfather used to listen to (while in bed with a New Orleans whore) (I just called your great-great-grandmother a whore)

But are the vocal melodies memorable? Are the clattering wailers a calamitous joy to the ears? Are the lyrics worth quoting in a record review? In the case of Bad As Me, the answer is "Yes," "Yes" and "Bad As Me!? More like GOOD As Me, if you ask me!"

Lyrical highlights include:

"Heavens to Murgatroyd!"

"They pay me not to come home.... The only way down from the gallows is to swing"

"You're the same kind of bad as me!"

"I'm the last leaf on the tree/The Autumn took the rest, but they won't take me"

"I will have satisfaction; I will be satisfied!/Now Mr. Jagger and Mr. Richards, I will scratch where I've been itchin'!"

"I had a good home but I left/That big fuckin' bomb made me deaf.... Listen to the general, every goddamned word/How many ways can you polish up a turd?"

"The noise was disturbing/And I couldn't find Irving"

If you're already a Tom Waits fan, you're nuts if you don't already own this. And if you've never heard Tom Waits, this is a perfectly good place to start. It starts to lose a little steam halfway through, but picks back up with a vengeance for two fantastic closers (anti-war bellower "Hell Broke Luce" and timeless accordian waltz "New Year's Eve"). Also, Keith Richards plays on four songs and that guy used to be in The X-pensive Winos with Waddy Wachtel, so how bad can he suck besides 100%?

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