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Bad As Me

October 21, 2011 | Format: MP3

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Format: Audio CD
Anyone thumbing through Tim Adams revealing interview with Tom Waits in last weeks Observer (23/10/11) should also read the subsequent comments upon it by Waits aficionados who are a particularly articulate bunch. One summarizes his Waits infatuation with the immortal line that "Tom Waits. He's the Dad I never had, the brother who wouldn't play with me, and the sister with the strangely deep voice". You know what he means. Tom Waits is both a one-man history of American music but also a vivid reflection of our lives ribald joys, drunken disasters, tender moments and defeated heartaches. He is a first class honours American maverick and the most genuinely original artist in modern rock music. On "Bad as me" he is back in over powering form and rocking harder than he has done for years. "Anyone who has ever played a piano," Waits has previously stated, "would really like to hear how it sounds when dropped from a 12th-floor window" and on his 17th album he does on occasions make a mighty racket. He is helped in this task by the presence on the album of his wife Kathleen Brennan, guitarist Marc Ribot, Flea from the Red Hot Chilli Peppers and a previous collaborator that other old blues reprobate Keith Richards.

The album starts with "Chicago" a roaring blast of horns and fast chops which sees Waits in fine voice and doing a Casey Jones style "all aboard" chant. He follows it by outdoing Nick Cave in the dirty blues stakes with "Raised Right Man" where Waits exclaims "Heavens to murkatroid/Miners to coal/A good women can make a diamond out of a measly lump of coal".
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After listening to the groaning beautiful voice on "Dead Man Walking" soundtrack particularly "The Fall of Troy," I purchased my first-ever works by Tom Waits, the double-header release of "Blood Money" and "Alice." Soon, lyrics like "misery is the river of the world;" wild incomprehensible shouts of "Zelbuchlesch!"; "as far as a monkey could climb, the more you see it's tail;" & "everybody row!" incredibly became benchmarks for how far gone & into Waits I became. In fact, so far gone was I that my wife emphatically suggested I move our c.d. player into the cellar.

In "Bad as me, " Waits hammers more nails into the cross on which fans are hooked. "Kiss me" is a beautiful song -- I sensed Waits was singing to the piano that's sobering-up after endless nights of drinking. The wildness of "Satisfied" --doubtless music lovers are never satisfied, more is always desired, and Waits is "grieving satisfaction," & its fairly sensible to believe Mr. Wait's will be "carousin" when he's a "thousand."

'Ya gotta inject some "Bad as me" into the madness of lousy jobs, failed relationships, etcetera, and one cannot but enjoy "Last Leaf," listen to the last gasps of a reflective life hanging-limp upon a branch, laugh when Waits says he's "been here since Eisenhower," and I for one believe the artist has found who "puts flowers on a flower's grave."
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Format: Audio CD
... in other words, it's distilled essence of Tom, and it's pretty much perfect. You can't listen to it (well I can't) without grinning. So THAT'S what he's been building.
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Format: MP3 Music
I don't have a long review or much to say, but Tom Waits is back in rocking form with this album. From the swing-ish "Satisfied" to the harsh and poignant "Hell Broke Luce" the album is a trip from beginning to end. It's a return to the Tom Waits of fifteen years ago, sounds fantastic, and is well worth your time and money.
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Format: Audio CD
"Bad as Me" is Waits's most musical album. Few signs here of his grungy, Partch-like, recorded-in-a-chicken-coop ventures, for all the appeal of that dragged-through-a-boneyard material. These thirteen songs are all in the 3-minute range; not one's over four-and-a-half minutes long. One even clocks in at 2 minutes short, and none outstays its welcome.

This is well-developed, even unusually burnished music, and in clear sound. There's plenty of the customary howling at the moon, but the sentiments are equally rich in depth, levity, wit and craft. At least in being one of his best-finished collections, "Bad as Me" outshines "Mule Variations," "Blue Valentine," or ...pick your fave.

Yet it's still the same old Waits, parlaying his Satchmo caterwaul to the hilt, reeling off various voices: the stumbling wino ("Last Leaf on the Tree"; "Face To The Highway"), a shambling Howlin' Wolf ("Chicago"), and a brogue Leonard Cohen to welcome New Year's Eve. Smokey Robinson's falsetto is invoked, of course minus any sweetness, in Everybody's "Talking at the Same Time," while, bewildered, he watches his girl leave, "...and there's no more `next time'."

So this is a winner for its wide musical range: from calypso/ranchero ("Back in the Crowd") to a cool vocal bounce that livens some otherwise tired lines ("You're never going to be without me, baby, I'm never going to be without you"). There is a decidedly un-plaintive "Get Lost" that's galaxies from Chet Baker's despair-filled song of like title; and in "Satisfied" Waits takes a wonderful go at rockabilly, with organ phrasings recalling "99 Tears," a '60s hit by ? and the Mysterians. While the whip in Waits's yelp saves some forgettable lines, he cries into his drink to convey convoluted, even atrophied sentiments ("...
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