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Old 11-04-2005, 01:59 AM   #1
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Tom Waits - what era?

I've recently purchased Alice and Blood Money, completing my collection of latter day albums by Tom Waits. Which got me to wondering which Tom Waits I prefer. There's the jazz/blues/country/rockandroll balladeer of the Asylum Records, the theatrical, carnival barking madman of the Island Records years, and the grizzled pastiche of his four albums on Anti. I think I'm ultimately partial to the body of work from 1999-2005. There are songs that recall the early days, like "Hold On" and "Alice," then songs like "Misery is the River of Life," "God's Away on Business," and "Big in Japan" that recall the 80s work. But none of the songs seem to completely rehash the works they resemble... rather they just show his progress as an artists. Then there's Real Gone.... I don't know what to say about that album other than it's a (disjointed as hell) mood piece and I like it. A year on and I'm still not sure I've really digested it, but I know I like it.

Now don't get me wrong - the 70s probably had hte best individual songs - "Jersey Girl," "Martha," "A Sight for Sore Eyes," "Heartattack and Vine," "Ol' 55," and so on... and the 80s and early 90s had the best full albums - Rain Dogs, Swordfishtrombones, Bone Machine. But I think Tom's last four albums have been the most consistent and are, despite their deliberate weirdness, endlessly listenable.
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