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It’s only on second listen that you understand the song fits in perfectly on this quasi-concept album – it really complements the big picture without falling out of it. Within the late night jazz formula?

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TOM WAITSThomas Alan Waits (born December 7, 1949) is an American singer, songwriter, musician, and actor. And then there’s ‘In Shades’, presented by ‘The Tom Waits Band’. What the hell is THAT shit? Was it really recorded live, as there’s a joyful fuzz ‘n’ buzz of a busy restaurant in the distance? Maybe it was, Tom is such a kidder, after all. But what’s up with the tune itself? It’s not generic blues. It doesn’t sound that much different from the melody of ‘Heartattack And Vine’, though. It’s pretty hypnotic, too – what with Roland Bautista’s perfect sharp lead lines and Ronnie Barron’s steady Hammond riff underpinnning it all. And the false drum ending. It’s really stupid: just an instrumental bluesy tune, but I’ve yet to hear something else like this.

By now, Waits was reluctant to tour, so fans snapped up Glitter And Doom Live, which was compiled from Waits’ small 2008 jaunt, and boasted plenty of crowd favourites, along with a second disc devoted to ‘Tom Tales’: the wit and wisdom, the interjections, shaggy dog stories and monologues that are all part of the overall picture.

Any disappointments? Well, actually, I’m not a big fan of ‘Day After Tomorrow’. It’s a pretty (and sad) conclusion, but it’s nowhere near as well defined as Tom’s previous uplifting codas of the ‘Come On Up To The House’ variety. It almost sounds like something Bruce Springsteen could write. Or maybe Dylan in his early “protest” phase. It’s a gesture, for sure, but not a very good song. Also, ‘Circus’ is almost as blandly entertaining as the title suggests – it’s a spoken piece, along the lines of ‘What’s He Building’ but without the intrigue of the latter, where Tom could really get you all riled up about the perspectives of learning what exactly the He is building out there; ‘Circus’ has no intrigue, it’s more like a bit of an interlude between the album’s two halves.

Raspy-voiced singer-songwriter who released such songs as “Jersey Girl” and “Hold On.” His work on the One From the Heart soundtrack got him nominated for an Academy Award. Discover releases, reviews, credits, songs, and more about Tom Waits – Used Songs 1973-1980 at Discogs. Complete your Tom Waits collection.TOM WAITS

I don’t know — my father was a singer, Mariachi music was his big love, and Harry Belafonte, so I learned all these Mexican folk songs when I was a kid – Woody Guthrie too; he was from Texas. And music really is a language, so maybe when I was learning Spanish as a kid I felt at the same time I had a propensity for music, because he was showing me things on the guitar. My dad – his name’s Jesse Frank, named after Jesse and Frank, a double shot there of rebellion, he was really a tough one – was always an outsider. He slept in the orange groves and learned Spanish at a young age. If you went to a restaurant in Mexico with my dad, he would invite the Mariachis to the table and give them two dollars for a song, and then he would start to sing with them and he would wind up leaving with them, and we would have to find our way back to the hotel on our own, and dad would come home a day later, because he fell asleep on a hilltop somewhere looking down on the town.

This song turns it all upside down, trading in Waits’ typical portraits of yearning and rambunctious vagrancy for transcendent images of love and goodness. Take It With Me” is about a man on the other side of love, looking back at his life without sadness or regret. The calm centerpiece of an album full of bombast, violence, and weighty American sadness, this stripped-down reverie for voice, piano, and bass finds solace through its gentile thesis. Indeed, it proves that Waits has never needed more than 88 keys and an open heart.

5. Rain Dogs (1985). Full of kitchen-sink curiosities and enough gritty street tales to fill an Elmore Leonard novel, Rain Dogs sounds and smells like the inner city, a theme reinforced on album favourites Jockey Full of Bourbon and Downtown Train. Waits broke new ground for himself on Rain Dogs, the consensus No. 1 in his vast catalogue for fans of his more rugged material.

Following the release of The Black Rider in 1993, there was to be a six-year hiatus before the next Tom Waits album. In those intervening years, however, he devoted himself to an array of different musical projects. Waits and Brennan, for instance, wrote two songs for the Dead Man Walking soundtrack album at the request of director Tim Robbins.

While he was composing for “One From the Heart,” Waits met his future wife and collaborator, Kathleen Brennan. They were married in the summer of 1980 and Brennan proved to be a major inspiration for Waits, who embraced a fresh approach to his songwriting and recording. His songs become less reliant on character studies and moods, as it had been with his Asylum catalog, and he incorporated more varied imagery for an expanded range of subjects.

Recording jazz records was Bones Howe’s earliest passion, and he recalls three nights, five months apart, in 1959 when he engineered alto sax legend Ornette Coleman’s first two albums for Atlantic Records, which many would come to regard as cornerstones of jazz’s avant-garde. The Shape Of Jazz To Come, recorded on May 22, 1959, and Change Of The Century, recorded on October 8-9, 1959, were the first to use this monumental quartet, with Charlie Haden on bass, Don Cherry on trumpet and Billy Higgins on drums. The records were recorded at Radio Recorders, Studio B, with Neshui Ertegun, brother of Atlantic Records founder Ahmet Ertegun, producing.

Turn on your TV and you’ll hear the Who, the Rolling Stones and even the group Kansas selling everything from cars to telecommunication services. But singer-songwriter Tom Waits abhors television commercials. He simply won’t do them. Waits, 55, is known for his gritty, croaking voice and his songs celebrating the underbelly of society, the characters who live on the edge.

Bad As Me, Waits’ 20th album, references the people he normally sings about: loners, losers, drunks and eccentrics. The “poet of outcasts,” as The New York Times once called Waits, romanticizes loneliness, the city of Chicago, death and love, among other topics. The album also pays homage to some of Waits’ favorite singers, including James Brown, Peggy Lee and Howlin’ Wolf.



As the follow-up Waits released two separate and distinct albums Alice and Blood Money on the same day in May 2002. The albums were as original as they were different from each other, with Alice chronicling the songs Waits and Brennan had written for Robert Wilsons 1992 theatrical production and Blood Money containing the music commissioned for 2000s Woyzeck. Alices songs are a school of fish that lead the listener into the rapture of the deep. Blood Moneys songs are musical dispatches from the dark, human carnival of life, said Waits, explaining how the two albums differed.

In general, Tom really sticks to playing a ‘self-alienating’ part on the record. Most of the tell-tale tricks present the story from a neutral point of view – and these are stories of street hassle (‘Romeo Is Bleeding’), poverty (‘Red Shoes By The Drugstore’) and suchlike. The actual presentation form does differ, though; within the given formula, what with all of its narrowness, there’s still enough space to make one song sound different from another. ‘Red Shoes By The Drugstore’ is more or less in the general style of Tom’s beatnik rants, like ‘Diamonds On My Windshield’. But then there’s the soft bleeding ballad ‘Christmas Card From A Hooker In Minneapolis’, again, a title which tells you more than you should know before the actual song begins. This one is a real tear-jerker, so don’t listen to it too much unless you’re not too sensitive.

Tom Waits recorded his new album Bad As Me, his first collection of all-new studio recordings in eight years, in his studio, which he calls “Rabbit Foot” for good luck. The space, a converted schoolhouse, still has class pictures dotting the walls of each classroom.

That was an intentionally confused intro to a review of an intentionally confused album. See, Tom Waits got drunk. Not in a literal sense, of course (I honestly don’t know the story of Tom’s relations with alcohol and other substances, although I guess it must have had its moments). It’s just that Small Change is in the same style of Tom’s previous albums, only this time all the stories and descriptions and rantings are done by the protagonist in a completely and irreversibly soaken state of mind. Waits’ voice is on the move, too – down the scale, that is, as the grunts and growls step about an octave lower than they used to be placed. And just about every delivery on here is fascinating.

Likewise Foreign Affairs and Blue Valentine: monochrome and lurid albums both. Waits’ late 70s body of work was gaining impressive stature, with stand-out cuts including ‘I Never Talk to Strangers’ (a duet with Bette Midler), the ritzy ‘Burma Shave’, the autobiographical ‘Kentucky Avenue’ and the brilliantly mordant ‘Christmas Card From A Hooker In Minneapolis’.

And then there’s ‘In Shades’, presented by ‘The Tom Waits Band’. What the hell is THAT shit? Was it really recorded live, as there’s a joyful fuzz ‘n’ buzz of a busy restaurant in the distance? Maybe it was, Tom is such a kidder, after all. But what’s up with the tune itself? It’s not generic blues. It doesn’t sound that much different from the melody of ‘Heartattack And Vine’, though. It’s pretty hypnotic, too – what with Roland Bautista’s perfect sharp lead lines and Ronnie Barron’s steady Hammond riff underpinnning it all. And the false drum ending. It’s really stupid: just an instrumental bluesy tune, but I’ve yet to hear something else like this.

His rich vein of creativity continued with Real Gone, Waits 2004 album which featured primal blues, rock-steady grooves and Latin rhythms, all mixed and stirred with what Waits called cubist funk and vocal mouth percussion the latter unveiling his unique approach to hip-hop human beatboxing. For the first time in Waits career, there was no piano on the record.


Waits was born on December 7, 1949 in Pomona, California. He was inspired by Dylan as well as Beat Generation writers like Allen Ginsberg, William S. Burroughs, and Jack Kerouac. However, as he honed his craft, Waits would also feed off of a potpourri of far-flung influences: Frank Sinatra-reminiscent saloon songs, the writings of Charles Bukowski, the folk-inspired piano jazz of Mose Allison, word-jazz impresario Ken Nordine, blues powerhouse Howlin’ Wolf, German composer Kurt Weill and even his contemporary, Captain Beefheart.

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