Blue Valentine
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on July 20, 2015
I love Tom Waits music. But this Elecktra recording is awful. I have purchased three copies of this CD hoping to get a copy that was good quality. Each CD sounds the same so the editing was consistent but there is a very annoying scratchy, distorted sound through all the tracks. Sound is atrocious...Tom Waits would be embarrassed by the quality. I don't know if the master sounds this bad but somewhere along the way it has deteriorated significantly.
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This is one of his best! Gave ours to a friend so had to buy another.
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on June 2, 2015
Blue Valentine is probably Tom's least popular 70's album for a reason but it's honestly pretty good overall. There are no bad songs on it in my opinion. By the way I KNOW I said I was going to stop listening to Tom Waits for a while but I got another urge tonight to listen to another one of his album so I chose Blue Valentine. So... here I am. The review is on!

"Somewhere" opens with orchestration resembling an old western, which is an unusual direction for Tom Waits to take his music but then again isn't he technically an experimentalist? Tom's voice returns to the exceptionally hoarse range that he delivered quite prominently on Small Change. I actually wonder sometimes if this is Tom's natural range or if he's deliberately stretching his voice to sing so unusually. I mean I don't want to laugh at the poor guy if he's singing sincerely. That would make yours truly look incredibly foolish and ignorant! I think this is a cover song but made dramatically different thanks entirely to Tom's vocals. The orchestration is lovely though. The way he sings "Hold my hand and I'll take you there" goes SO deep it's almost amazing his voice doesn't bottom out sometimes, and when he quickly changes gears into "Somehow, someday, somewhere" it feels almost unnatural so I have to giggle a little bit. Sorry!

"Red Shoes By the Drugstore" is based around continuous tribal drumming and light arrangements that fit in with the sounds of the late 70's. That sort of means this album is clearly more dated than, say, Small Change. "Now Santa Claus is drunk in the ski room, and it's Christmas Eve in a sad café, when the moon gets its way, there' a little blue jay by the newsstand" is a good line. Tom Waits totally sounds like Captain Beefheart more so than usual. I'm thinking of Captain Beefheart's "Grow Fins". "Christmas Card From a Hooker in Minneapolis" is based around moody innocent piano playing and soulful vocals... which is exactly what I fully expected based on the silly song title, lol. Gotta make such a subject sound cheerful! The tone of this vocal melody is sort of uplifting in a peculiar Tom Waits kind of way. "But somebody stole my record player, how do you like that?" and "I'll be eligible for parole come Valentine's Day"... are two lines that stand out to me.

"Romeo Is Bleeding" features slow-moving, sneaky bass guitar played jazzily. Jazzily? Is that even a word? Well it is tonight. The lyrics are about how Romeo kills a sheriff and tries to get away with it. Despite the serious lyrics, I have to laugh at the line "And throws a bottle at a milk truck, and as it breaks he grabs his nuts, they all know they could be just like Romeo if they had the guts" The keyboards mixed with the saxophone and bass provide a mysterious feel... like yeah, a crime being committed and covered up in the darkness of a back alley. Enjoyable sax solo. "$29.00" is slow blues in the style of many early 70's rock musicians but with moody keyboards and sparse guitar playing.

You know so far I'm able to get into this album MUCH easier than Small Change, an album that took me a few listens to really absorb. I'm having an easier time getting into Blue Valentine. "See that vulture in the Fleetwood with the chartreuse hood sees you're trying to get your bearings say hey baby which way's the main stem?" is a funny line the way Tom sings it. Normally such a predictable and banal blues formula would grate on my nerves, but Tom gives it enough personality to make it more listenable than most who'd attempt the same thing. "Now when the streets get hungry baby you can almost hear then growl, someone's saving a place for you, when the dogs begin to howl, and the streets are dead they creep up and take whatever's left on the bone, and remember suckers always make mistakes when they're faraway from home " is sung in a creepy way specifically because of Tom's voice. Otherwise such a line would be funny! For so little guitar and keyboard playing, what's here sure leaves an impact. These instruments are used just right.

"Wrong Side of the Road" has interesting lines such as "Take the button from a yellow jacket, the feather from a buzzard, the blood from a bounty hunters cold black heart" and "Strangle all the Christmas carols scratch out all the prayers, tie 'em up with barbed wire and push 'em down the stairs" while maintaining a jazzy saxophone solo in the background. This song seriously has the best lyrics on the album. They don't make a whole lot of sense to me (in other words I wouldn't have a clue what Tom is singing about here) but they're really cleverly written and enjoyable. I could take a guess and say (based on the last line) they're about drugs, and having them in somebody's possession while travelling (and possibly getting caught based on the song title). "Whistlin' Past the Graveyard" contains atmosphere, sax and pacing similar to Bruce Springsteen's "Spirits In the Night" during the verse melody. "I know you seen my headlights and the honkin' of my horn, I'm calling out my bloodhounds chase the devil through the corn" is a great line, as is "I come into town on a night train with an arm full of boxcars, on the wings of a magpie cross a hooligan night, I'm gonna tear off a rainbow and wear it for a tie, I never told the truth so I can never tell a lie". Otherwise the lyrics are hard to discern due to the way they're rushed but the vocal melody is solid enough that it doesn't matter.

"Kentucky Avenue" is all about a somber mood and simple piano playing. "So let me tie you up with kite string and I'll show you the scabs on my knee, watch out for the broken glass put your shoes and socks on, come along with me" is a shocking lyric. These lyrics are all about causing city destruction with all the hacksaw cutting, tire slashing and breaking into buildings/climbing rooftop Tom sings about here. That's not nice Tom! Don't do any of these regretful things. Think nice happy thoughts. "A Sweet Little Bullet for a Pretty Blue Gun" has another Captain Beefheart resemblance in the groovy rhythm to the above mentioned "Red Shoes By the Drugstore". "You could throw my dreams out in the streets and let the rain make 'em grow" is a really good line, as is the following saxophone solo. The lyrics are even creatively deceiving like a good Captain Beefheart song- "Now never trust a scarecrow wearing shades after dark, be careful of that old bow tie he wears, it takes a sweet little bullet from a pretty blue gun to put those scarlet ribbons in your hair". This song just screams Captain Beefheart all over which of course is a magnificent thing. If anyone can get compared to the wizard of weirdness that is the good Captain, that has to mean they're doing something right (or very wrong, LOL!)

The title song finishes this album. It's a somber, barely melodic romantic-like thingy. 6 minutes of this is a bit overlong but Tom Waits has the good intention to keep it lyrically interesting despite the blandness of the other things going on such as the slow pace and barely interesting guitar work. Once again I wouldn't have a clue what this song is about, but Tom sings it with so much compassion that I can't help but say it's memorable based on his voice and personality alone.

Overall Blue Valentine is better than I expected given the drastic decrease in reviews here on amazon compared to Small Change. I guess that's the name of the game however- Tom Waits either has really popular or forgettable albums. He's a hit or miss artist in the eyes of many it would seem. So far the first four albums of his are really good though, especially Closing Time and Small Change. I like this album more than the Heart of Saturday Night and recommend it after those two albums.
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Waits comes through again with a marvelous and enjoyable album.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on March 11, 2015
The record had manufacturing defects on the second side which caused major shipping and audio issues. Unfortunately we have found this to be the case with several Waits vinyl released in the past several years. This record had to be returned.
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on January 30, 2015
I bought this album on the recommendation of a friend. At first, I thought he was tweaking my nose...Tom Waits singing Bernstein/Sondheim's
"There's a Place for Us"? However the first time I listened to the song, I realized that Wait's interpretation was far more touching than the glossy Broadway or movie soundtrack - in fact, it is genuinely moving. Even better, the rest of the album is wonderful, too. Waits is a masterful balladeer and musician - and I'm sure most people write him off, the second he belts out his first gravelly note. Their loss! The more I've listened to his work over the years, i'm amazed at how, with a a few words and a few well placed notes, accented with the odd drumbeat or roll, can transform the ordinary, overlooked aspects of life into a musical Van Gogh technicolor masterpiece. Every time I play one of Waits' albums, I discover something new -- so they never become boring! So, like all my other Tom Wait's albums, I'm sure I'll need to buy another copy, because I keep wearing them out. Tom Waits is one for the ages.
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on January 2, 2015
The vinyl was scratched in multiple places and skips as playing. Disappointed, but will live with it since it's my husbands all time favorite artist.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on December 20, 2014
Do not buy from this seller. I don't think my CD is an original. Now that I have my iTunes working again and have listened to the disc, every song has a scratchy noise in it. It makes me wonder if this was recorded off of an album. I am borrowing someone's CD player tomorrow and will try it. But I imagine the same thing will occur. Not sure if this late after purchase I can return, but believe I might try it.
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on September 21, 2014
Great album
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on April 29, 2014
I love it because I love Tom Waits. Especially good on this is "Somewhere". If you don't like Tom Waits you haven't listened to him. He is brilliant, not only in voice but in lyrics. Give him a "spin".
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