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Old 02-01-2010, 12:44 PM   #1
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Tom Waits - Where do I start?

yes, i have never heard a Tom Waits song or album. i hear great stuff about him. for someone going in blind, what album would you suggest?
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Old 02-01-2010, 12:45 PM   #2
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I'm not sure how well this will be accepted by anyone who is more of a Waitsologist, but I started with Rain Dogs and never looked back.
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Old 02-01-2010, 12:46 PM   #3
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I'm not sure how well this will be accepted by anyone who is more of a Waitsologist, but I started with Rain Dogs and never looked back.
i have heard that his voice is pretty hard to get used to. should i brace myself?
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Old 02-01-2010, 12:52 PM   #4
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It's unique, but I never had any real difficulty with it. It's actually pretty bad ass.
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Old 02-01-2010, 12:54 PM   #5
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Tom Waits' voice is less about singing and more about establishing a tone and atmosphere in his songs. Its jarring at first, but if you let your mind wander while listening to him, it can conjure up some pretty vivid imagery
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Old 02-01-2010, 01:06 PM   #6
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Chronologically, I say. Or, better yet, pick one from each segment of his career, which I tend to divide into 1973-1982, 1983-1993, 1994-present. And, drawing from that, I would suggest:

Closing Time
Rain Dogs
Mule Variations

Those are the consensus choices, anyway. A lot of people tend to skip over the early albums in general, but that's my favorite period of his work. He's always been a wonderful songwriter, and his voice wasn't so worn then.
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Old 02-01-2010, 01:09 PM   #7
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I'm going to buck the album trend. To me, no Waits album is indispensable until the 1980s, so I'd start with Used Songs (1973-1980), Rain Dogs and either Bone Machine or Mule Variations. That will get you pretty much optimal Waits coverage for a beginner. Beautiful Maladies, the comp of his Island work, is good, too, but that era is just too damn hard to anthologize effectively.
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Old 02-01-2010, 01:12 PM   #8
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thanks for the responses folks. i'm downloading Rain Dogs right now, since everyone mentioned this one.
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Old 02-01-2010, 01:14 PM   #9
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I'd go with Rain Dogs and Small Change. They both give you a good feel of the Waits soundscape without freaking you out too much.
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Old 02-01-2010, 01:15 PM   #10
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I say that Bone Machine is tops, but you should start with Rain Dogs and Swordfishtrombones, yes.
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Old 02-01-2010, 01:18 PM   #11
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thanks for the responses folks. i'm downloading Rain Dogs right now, since everyone mentioned this one.
Just to be an ass, I'll change my 1983-1993 pick to Swordfishtrombones. It truly is a better representation of every facet of his career, as it features the creative percussion of Rain Dogs, and tracks like Rainbirds sum up his early work beautifully. It's a terrific album, although perhaps not as unified as Rain Dogs.
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Old 02-01-2010, 02:09 PM   #12
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I'm going to buck the album trend. To me, no Waits album is indispensable until the 1980s, so I'd start with Used Songs (1973-1980)
I have that one and it's the only Tom Waits album I own at the moment (or rather, it's a compilation of his early years on the Asylum label). It's a good introduction.
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Old 02-01-2010, 04:24 PM   #13
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What's Closing Time like? I've got about seven albums of his, mostly later stuff, but not this one.
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Old 02-01-2010, 04:56 PM   #14
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i'm half way into Rain Dogs right now.....i don't know about this. not really digging it. i'll try to stomach through the rest.
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Old 02-01-2010, 04:57 PM   #15
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You should start with Scarlett Johanssen's album of cover versions!

Kidding.

I've never gotten into him, although I do really love a few of his songs ... which I heard thanks to various cover versions. Time (Tori Amos), Soldier's Things (Paul Young).
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