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Recommend some Tom Waits for me

Old 04-21-03, 11:56 AM
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Recommend some Tom Waits for me

So, I was going through my 28 volumes of mix CDs and transferring songs to my MP3 player last night. One of the songs was Tom Waits' "Better Off Without a Wife" - great one.

And one of my all-time favorite songs is "I Hope That I Don't Fall In Love With You." I can't express what a great song that is.

"I Don't Wanna Grow Up" is another really good one, although I like the Holly Cole Trio's version better (off of their TW tribute album).

I own TW's Beautiful Maladies. That ablum and the songs I mentioned (and his song with Primus) are pretty much the extent of my exposure to Waits. Can you recommend any albums or songs like the above? The guy's got a large catalog and I'd like to start at the right place.
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Old 04-21-03, 12:10 PM
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Mule Variations- I bought this, not knowing what to expect, and it quickly became on of my favorite CDs ever. Great ballads ("Hold On" is superb, haunting), great...well, Tom Waits tunes. Can't recommend it enough.

His latest releases, Blood Money and Alice are not quite up to the level of Mule Variations, but they have their interesting moments. Blood Money, I think, is slightly superior to Alice.

I'm late to the game with Waits, so I haven't heard much of his earlier stuff. How is Beautiful Maladies, DJLinus?
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Old 04-21-03, 12:16 PM
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Originally posted by bardevious

I'm late to the game with Waits, so I haven't heard much of his earlier stuff. How is Beautiful Maladies, DJLinus?
Thanks for the recommendations.

I got Beautiful Maladies for free years ago when I was music director at my college radio state. To be honest, I haven't really listened to it much. And it's been quite a long time since I last put it in. I will probably listen to it when I get home today and let you know later (unless someone else beats me to it).
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Old 04-21-03, 01:03 PM
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Originally posted by bardevious

His latest releases, Blood Money and Alice are not quite up to the level of Mule Variations, but they have their interesting moments. Blood Money, I think, is slightly superior to Alice.
I disagree, and furthermore you are one of the select few people who rank Blood Money over Alice. But there is seldom consensus on which Tom Waits album is better or best in his catalogue, because he never made a bad album.

One thing you must be aware of with Waits is that like Bowie, Lou Reed or any really brilliant and prolific musical artist, he has been through a lot of stylistic changes. If you listen to Closing Time from 1973 (the album with "I Hope That I Don't Fall In Love With You") and then Bone Machine from 1992, you almost can't believe they are done by the same person.

As I said, you can buy almost any Waits album and will get your money's worth, but these are the (IMO) essentials:

Heart Of Saturday Night (1974)
Small Change (1976)
Heartattack and Vine (1980)
Rain Dogs (1985)
Bone Machine (1992)
Mule Variations (1999)
Alice (2002)

Enjoy. His music changed my overall tastes forever.
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Old 04-21-03, 02:03 PM
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There are different ways of recommending Waits albums, based on what era you might be more receptive to. Being a fan of his entire career (and the owner of all of his albums on cd and most of them on vinyl) it's hard to pick a personal favorite.

From the earlier, piano-bar beatnik era, I'd recommend "Blue Valentine". It's around this time that he's really developing the voice into a slurred bark, but the songs are really beautiful and the production on the album is great.

From the later, more experimental era, I'd recommend 'Frank's Wild Years', which is basically an operetta. Nearly epic, endlessly inventive, and contains my personal favorite Waits song, 'You're Innocent When You Dream'.

Really, you can't go wrong with ANY of them. I tend to favor the Island Records stuff (Swordfishtrombones-Bone Machine) but there are many who swear by the earlier singer songwriter stuff (Closing Time/Heart of Saturday Night, etc). Truly all of it is great. You really can't go wrong.

Of the two newest albums, I liked "Blood Money" more at first, but several months into my listening, I'm starting to favor "Alice". They're both great though, so no complaints in either case here.
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Old 04-21-03, 03:40 PM
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Rain Dogs is part of a well-balanced meal, if you ask me.
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Old 04-21-03, 04:24 PM
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I'll take Swordfishtrombones.
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Old 04-21-03, 04:31 PM
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"Rain Dogs" gets my vote followed by "Small Change".
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Old 04-22-03, 11:45 AM
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Thanks for the recommendations, folks. Keep 'em coming.

I listened to part of Beautiful Maladies yesterday and, while I like it, I think I'd prefer his less-experimental, more singer-songwriter stuff.

Also, I have some a couple of free selections due me at BMG. They offer the following:
Used Songs (1973-1980)
Small Change
Nighthawks at the Diner
The Heart of Saturday Night

Which two would be the best?
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Old 04-22-03, 01:59 PM
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If I had to pick one album, I'd pick Rain Dogs, followed closely thereafter by Mule Variations. I also really like Bone Machine. I still haven't quite got into Blood Money for some reason even though I don't think it's a bad CD, and I never did pick up Alice. Of his early stuff, I have two really nice CDs that compile it, fittingly called The Early years volume 1 and 2, and I'll also second the recommendation for Blue Valentine as a great sampler of his earlier style. Really, you can't go wrong with most Waits albums -- although I'll admit The Black Rider, his avant-garde musical soundtrack kinda thing, didn't do a lot for me and I eventually traded it in.
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Old 04-22-03, 04:02 PM
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Originally posted by DJLinus
Thanks for the recommendations, folks. Keep 'em coming.

I listened to part of Beautiful Maladies yesterday and, while I like it, I think I'd prefer his less-experimental, more singer-songwriter stuff.

Also, I have some a couple of free selections due me at BMG. They offer the following:
Used Songs (1973-1980)
Small Change
Nighthawks at the Diner
The Heart of Saturday Night

Which two would be the best?

I love his earlier stuff also, and I would say to pick up all of his 70's releases. As for your list, I'm not sure about "Used Songs." I presume that's a compendium. I love the other three on your list and it would be hard for me to pick two. "Nighthawks At The Diner" is a good live release where Tom tells a couple of hilarious stories to the audience during song intros. The other two are also must-haves IMO!
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Old 04-23-03, 09:40 AM
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All of these "compilations" recommendations?????and it took SierraDisc to mention Early Years Vol. 1&2 ????????

For the early stuff those two albums are beyond perfect. And since you obviously have the newer bases covered....

Rain Dogs (absolutely perfect description by fallow)
Blue Valentine (be careful...it might just change your life)

HELL, go against the grain and grab Foreign Affairs (has the duet I Never Talk to Strangers w/ Bette Midler) & the Soundtrack to One From the Heart (entire collaboration w/ Crystal Gayle)
That's pure f***ing punk rock!!!!!!!!!
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Old 04-23-03, 12:49 PM
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Another belated seconding of the Early Years comps, and also Foreign Affairs. And you know, "Heart Attack and Vine" is pretty much perfect too. Really, I can say that I love each and every one of his albums with all of my heart, and I can count the number of artists I can say that about on one hand. There's not a bad album in the bunch. Go to town!
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Old 04-23-03, 01:56 PM
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Ok, a few folks here have singled out "Rain Dogs". Being that I'm only familiar with latter day Waits, how does it compare to his recent releases (particularily "Mule Variations")?

And, is "Swordfishtrombone" worth picking up? A few things I've read about Waits suggests that this album was a turning point in his career, and, as such, is noteworthy.
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Old 04-23-03, 02:07 PM
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SFT is absolutely essential, as it marks Waits first major departure into the experimental sounds which would make up his later work. The arcane and homemade instruments, the megaphone barking, etc really got started here. Plus it's just an amazing album. Not a bad song on the record.

Rain Dogs is another indispensible album, and with SFT and Frank's Wild Years, composes the FWYs trilogy. Sort of shared sonic theme between the albums.

You can't go wrong with either one.
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Old 04-26-03, 10:41 AM
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Thanks again for the recommendations, folks. I'm going to hit the used CD store today. And I've been looking on ebay (man, there's a lot of his stuff on there).

An aside: I put on Beautiful Maladies just now to listen to the latter half of it (F For Fake you're right - "Innocent When You Dream" is a great song). Anyway, "Singapore" comes on and it immediately sounded familiar. Turns out that Word A' Mouth sampled it on "Famous Last Words" off of the Lyricist Lounge Vol. 1 CD (which is a great underground hip-hop comp, BTW). Check it out sometime. Has any of his other stuff been sampled?
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Old 04-27-03, 09:01 AM
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I have to give a strong recommendation for Nighthawks at the diner. Eggs and Sausage is one of my fav late night songs by him. Really gives me the same vibe i get from Frank Sinatra's Wee Small Hours album. Nighthawks also has some other killer tracks like Warm Beer, Cold Women as well as Better Off Without a Wife. By far my most played TW album (with Mule Variations and Closing Time coming in a close 2nd and 3rd).
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