Palimpsest  

Go Back   Palimpsest > Reviews > Other Reviews

View Poll Results: Favourite Tom Waits album
Closing Time 0 0%
Nighthawks at the Diner 1 7.69%
Small Change 3 23.08%
Foreign Affairs 1 7.69%
Mule Variations 2 15.38%
Swordfishtrombones 1 7.69%
Rain Dogs 2 15.38%
Frank's Wild Years 0 0%
Bone Machine 3 23.08%
Other 0 0%
Voters: 13. You may not vote on this poll

Reply
 
Thread Tools Display Modes
Old 3rd Sep 2008, 7:44   #1
fanshawe
Palimpsestarian
is a palimpsestin' fool!
 
fanshawe's Avatar
 
Join Date: 17 Jun 2008
Location: Amsterdam
Posts: 555
Default Tom Waits

Browsing the favourite three's thread, it appeared that Tom Waits is many people's favourite performer. A dedicated thread is surely needed?

Tom Waits emerged in the early seventies as a piano balladeer on Closing Time . 'Lonely' is still one of my favourite songs; a big, sentimental break-up song, in case you ever need one.

The Heart of Saturday Night was more of the same, only more delicately wrought. The big flourishes became more understated, and Tom's voice was sweet.

Nighthawks at the Diner is the first album on which Tom unveils his new beat-poet persona. It's a live album, recorded among friends and acquaintances in LA, and Tom's newly-sanded growl gives the impression that he's been eating knives and coal for the year previous. The between song banter is the highlight, but the songs themselves aren't memorable.

Small Change is the best 1970's album, a studio album of piano songs of emotional power, comic energy and poetic skill. 'The Piano has been Drinking' is brilliant and funny, and makes you realise how few songs are written 'in character', a method Waits would go on to use often.

Foreign Affairs is a grower. The tunes are less immediate and more Jazz-influenced than on Small Change, but it has a satisfying shape and sound if you give it time.

Heartattack and Vine is one of his few albums that I stuggle to listen to from beginning to end. Pastiche seems to be the order of the day on a lot of the songs, and 'Jersey Girl', the big ballad, is a bit overblown and underwhelming.

Swordfishtrombones/ RainDogs/ Frank's Wild Years are all masterpieces, as Waits introduced a Kurt Weill influence to his music. Swordfish is flawless. Raindog's includes a rousing 'Where I Lay my Head', and 'Cold Call Ground' from Frank's is one of my favourite ever songs featuring an accordion. And I love accordions.

Bone Machine is a nice mix of low-key grit and beauty.

Mule Variations is the best of the 90's and probably my favourite, but isn't as organic and perfect as Swordfish.

Alice/ Blood Money are two that I don't really listen to that much, for whatever reason, though they are good records.

What are your favourite Waits' records?
__________________
2011/ 2010/ 2009/ 2008

fanshawe is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 3rd Sep 2008, 8:33   #2
amarie
has never loathed cock, and
is a Palimpsester Extraordinaire
 
Join Date: 14 May 2004
Posts: 1,200
Default Re: Tom Waits

I'm with you on Small Change fanshawe, but I must confess that I do really like Nighthawks at the Diner. But what can beat Pasties and a G-String and The Piano has been drinking? Another favourite is Innocent when you dream from Franks Wild Years and Martha from Small Change is just beautiful. Damn, I've changed my mind - can I re-vote for Small Change?!! I've just realised how much I absolutely love that album.
__________________
Currently reading: Fruit of the Lemon - Andrea Levy
amarie is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 3rd Sep 2008, 8:42   #3
fanshawe
Palimpsestarian
is a palimpsestin' fool!
 
fanshawe's Avatar
 
Join Date: 17 Jun 2008
Location: Amsterdam
Posts: 555
Default Re: Tom Waits

Quote:
Originally Posted by amarie View Post
Martha from Small Change is just beautiful. Damn, I've changed my mind - can I re-vote for Small Change?!! I've just realised how much I absolutely love that album.
No need to change the vote amarie; 'Martha' is on Closing Time not Small Change. (I'm only sure of this because I'm listening to CT now; easy mistake to make)
__________________
2011/ 2010/ 2009/ 2008

fanshawe is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 3rd Sep 2008, 8:48   #4
amarie
has never loathed cock, and
is a Palimpsester Extraordinaire
 
Join Date: 14 May 2004
Posts: 1,200
Default Re: Tom Waits

Quote:
Originally Posted by fanshawe View Post
No need to change the vote amarie; 'Martha' is on Closing Time not Small Change. (I'm only sure of this because I'm listening to CT now; easy mistake to make)
Sorry, I meant revote for Closing Time! (I'm at work so doing all this by memory.) I think Closing Time is absolutely wonderful - Martha, I hope that I don't fall in love with you, Rosie, Ice-cream man - just love them all.
__________________
Currently reading: Fruit of the Lemon - Andrea Levy
amarie is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 3rd Sep 2008, 9:10   #5
John Self
Administrator
suffers from smallness of vision
 
John Self's Avatar
 
Join Date: 27 Jun 2003
Location: Belfast
Posts: 15,939
Default Re: Tom Waits

I think I tend to stick with my early impressions which is why Bone Machine, my first Waits, is probably still my favourite, even though I can clearly see that the 80s trilogy surpasses it in artistic brilliance. For me Bone Machine (1992, I think?) was one of those albums which made me realise that music can be more than, well, than whatever I was mainly listening to before.

I also loved The Black Rider (1993?), which I see you haven't included, fanshawe. I suppose it's not a proper album but a soundtrack of sorts, but there's some terrific stuff on there, like 'November'.

Oddly, I've never really listened much to his more recent stuff. I have Mule Variations but have only listened to it a few times. Time to remedy that maybe. And I never got either Alice/Blood Money or the recent trilogy of Orphans.

This is also a good place to repost the link to his Glitter and Doom press conference. Sublime.
__________________
Reading Vasily Grossman, Life and Fate | Asylum | Book List
John Self is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 3rd Sep 2008, 14:40   #6
fanshawe
Palimpsestarian
is a palimpsestin' fool!
 
fanshawe's Avatar
 
Join Date: 17 Jun 2008
Location: Amsterdam
Posts: 555
Default Re: Tom Waits

Quote:
Originally Posted by John Self View Post
I

I also loved The Black Rider (1993?), which I see you haven't included, fanshawe. I suppose it's not a proper album but a soundtrack of sorts, but there's some terrific stuff on there, like 'November'.
It's a big hole in my collection, along with the two newies, Real Gone and Orphans. I bought nearly everything he recorded in my first flush of Waits enthusiasm, and nothing since. That one passed me by.
__________________
2011/ 2010/ 2009/ 2008

fanshawe is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 3rd Sep 2008, 15:07   #7
bill
Senior Palimpsester
suckles at the teat of the Palim-God
 
bill's Avatar
 
Join Date: 12 Dec 2007
Location: USA
Posts: 2,950
Default Re: Tom Waits

I don't think I have time to write everything I'd like to about Waits, but he's the guy that opened up music for me. Prior to him, I listened to the Beatles, Simon & Garfunkel, Pink Floyd, Peter Gabriel, a lot of classic rock. Nothing bad, much of it even great, but I'd never heard anything like Waits before. The first song of his I heard, I believe, was his opening song from Jim Jarmusch's film Night on Earth. The song is called "Back in the Good Old World", and the mixture of the gypsy instruments and Waits's mad should-he-even-be-singing? voice just entranced me. The next song I heard was, again, in a film. It was "Innocent When You Dream", used brilliantly at the end of Wayne Wang and Paul Auster's Smoke. It's a beautifully, drunkenly sentimental song, and the next day I went out and bought the album that included it, Frank's Wild Years, as well as Bone Machine* (I'd heard of Bone Machine years before, when it first came out, from an ad for it in some music magazine that quoted the song "Murder in the Red Barn": "There's always some killin' you got to do around the farm"). And that day, the first song I listened to was "Earth Died Screaming". And that was it. I was hooked for life.

Mule Variations came out smack-dab in the middle of my early Waits obsession, and I still think it's his best album. "Big in Japan", "Pony", "Cold Water", "Georgia Lee", "Picture in a Frame" (the song my wife and I would have danced to at our wedding had we not been married in Vegas), "Downside of the Road", "Get Behind the Mule", and, most especially, possibly my single favorite song of all time, "Come On Up to the House". Sheer genius, from beginning to end.

Anyway. You get the idea. From Waits, I went on to Johnny Cash and Randy Newman and Nick Cave and Shane MacGowan, and early Southern blues, but Waits was and is The Guy for me. He's the best.



*The third Waits album I bought, by the way, was The Black Rider. That album is, er, an acquired taste. But I've acquired it. I'm still working on Real Gone, however.
__________________
The Kind of Face You Hate
Currently reading: Various

Last edited by bill; 3rd Sep 2008 at 15:24.
bill is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 3rd Sep 2008, 17:23   #8
fanshawe
Palimpsestarian
is a palimpsestin' fool!
 
fanshawe's Avatar
 
Join Date: 17 Jun 2008
Location: Amsterdam
Posts: 555
Default Re: Tom Waits

It says something about the quality of his output that six people voted for six different albums as their favourite.

I had a similar experience to you, Bill. Swordfishtrombones and Mule Variations were my first two, and led me onto lots of music that I wouldn't have heard otherwise. Kurt Weill's Threepenny Opera is almost a sourcebook for his 80's material. Waits also led me to Captain Beefheart, and that which I'm most thankful for, Miles Davis. TW bridged the gap between rock and jazz perfectly.

I prefer him to all the beat writers bar Burroughs too.
__________________
2011/ 2010/ 2009/ 2008

fanshawe is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 3rd Sep 2008, 19:22   #9
bill
Senior Palimpsester
suckles at the teat of the Palim-God
 
bill's Avatar
 
Join Date: 12 Dec 2007
Location: USA
Posts: 2,950
Default Re: Tom Waits

Waits's "Beat" stuff runs hot and cold for me, actually, but I'm not really a fan of those guys in general. But Waits has done so much different stuff over the years, and I've found at least a few songs (generally far more) in each of his "eras" to like, if not love outright.

I should say, though, that my experience with the Beats is pretty limited. Would Small Change be considered one of Waits's Beat albums? Because I obviously love that one.

The funny thing about Weill (and you may take this with a grain of salt if you wish) is that Waits has said that at the time so many people were calling him an influence, Waits says he'd never heard any of Weill's music. He says he went right out and got some, but that he wasn't necessarily an influence. Whether you buy that or not, Waits has gone on to cover Weill/Brecht's "What Keeps Mankind Alive?".
__________________
The Kind of Face You Hate
Currently reading: Various
bill is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 3rd Sep 2008, 19:38   #10
fanshawe
Palimpsestarian
is a palimpsestin' fool!
 
fanshawe's Avatar
 
Join Date: 17 Jun 2008
Location: Amsterdam
Posts: 555
Default Re: Tom Waits

I'm not a fan of the Beats either - which is why I think Waits is the best. At least he has some jokes.

I can believe that he hadn't heard any Weill at the time. Weill was inspired by a lot of American music, so perhaps Waits drew inspiration from the same sources? The similarities are striking whichever way they were engendered.
__________________
2011/ 2010/ 2009/ 2008

fanshawe is offline   Reply With Quote
Reply


Currently Active Users Viewing This Thread: 1 (0 members and 1 guests)
 
Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off

Forum Jump

Similar Threads
Thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
Greenland: Part 3 John Self Features 15 11th Jan 2007 0:10
A Second Scene from 'Greenland' John Self Features 27 6th Dec 2006 15:24
Greenland: Part 2a John Self Features 5 8th Aug 2006 17:01
Tom Shone: Blockbuster John Self Book Reviews 14 7th Jul 2005 15:29
Tom Cruise Slightly Wet Shock John Self Politics & Society 4 21st Jun 2005 15:00


All times are GMT +1. The time now is 18:34.


Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.7
Copyright ©2000 - 2017, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.