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Orphans [Fold-out Digipak with 24-page booklet]

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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

"A lot of songs that fell behind the stove while making dinner" is how Tom Waits describes his new three-disc set, Orphans. The collection goes far beyond a simple career retrospective, with over 30 newly recorded songs - from Wait's own versions of songs he gave to other artist to some "things I recorded in the garage with the kids" - while over two thirds of the material has never been heard before now. In addition to the new work, Orphans features a number of tracks finding a home on a Waits album for the first time. The first disc, called Brawlers, is chock full of raucous blues and full-throated juke-joint stomp; second disc Bawlers contains Celtic and country ballads, waltzes, lullabies, piano and classic lyrical Wait's songs, while third disc Bastards is filled with experimental music, stories and jokes.

With these astounding 54 songs (plus two bonus tracks) Tom Waits has added a vital new work to his catalog. The title, Orphans, refers to the songs either being from a range of outside projects, various impulses, and whims, or simply not having found a place on the albums for which they were intended. While that scenario has constituted a stopgap measure for lesser artists, this set stands alongside Waits's finest work. He has shaped it into three separate discs, each one separately titled after the prevailing character of its tracks and playing with its own mood and dramatic arc. Brawlers favors raucousness and uptempo grinds and grooves, while Bawlers showcases balladry and the more overtly poetic. Bastards is a funhouse of angular characters, spiky anecdotes, shaggy dogs, and even a Kurt Weill cover. The set offers everything from the amped-up rockabilly hiccuping of "Lie to Me" to the breathtaking perfection of "Shiny Things," and from the outraged political reporting of "Road to Peace" to the closing-time lament of "Little Man." --David Greenberger

More from Tom Waits

Rain Dogs


Closing Time

Franks Wild Years

The Heart of Saturday Night

Small Change

Mule Variations

Nighthawks at the Diner

Bone Machine

Real Gone

Disc: 1
1. Lie To Me
2. LowDown
3. 2:19
4. Fish In The Jailhouse
5. Bottom Of The World
6. Lucinda
See all 16 tracks on this disc
Disc: 2
1. Bend Down The Branches
2. You Can Never Hold Back Spring
3. Long Way Home
4. Widow's Grove
5. Little Drop Of Poison
6. Shiny Things
See all 20 tracks on this disc
Disc: 3
1. What Keeps Mankind Alive
2. Children's Story
3. Heigh Ho
4. Army Ants
5. Books Of Moses
6. Bone Chain
See all 18 tracks on this disc

Product Details

  • Audio CD (December 5, 2006)
  • Number of Discs: 3
  • Label: ANTI
  • ASIN: B000L43AN4
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (135 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #18,219 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

125 of 130 people found the following review helpful By prisrob TOP 100 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on November 22, 2006
Format: Audio CD
"What's Orphans? I don't know. Orphans is a dead end kid driving a coffin with big tires across the Ohio River wearing welding goggles and a wife beater with a lit firecracker in his ear." Tom Waits

A 54 song masterpiece is what I call this new Tom Waits 3 CD rumble. A phalanx of songs from every period of life and every genre of American music. He has separated these 3 CD's into a concise set of marvelously named originals called 'Orphans"- 'Brawlers, Bawlers, and Bastards'. His wife Kathleen collaborated with Tom, and they have done his fine whiskey voice justice.

Brawler, disc one, was my least favorite, but I have listened 4 times and this set has grown close to my heart. The 16 songs on this disc are a mix of juke box, Muddy Waters blues and honky tonk, clangy tunes. 'Sea of Love' is done with a clever twist.

'Bawlers', disc two, is my favorite full of ballads of gone wrong. 20 songs a mixture of saloon songs , Celtic songs and torch songs. 'Tell It To Me' is a country song full of yearning and the rest of the group is as lovely and sad as you would want. They all give a message of the end of the road and hope is strong.

'Bastards' is an amalgamation of songs that don't fit elsewhere. 20 songs, some experimental, from Army Ants to King Kong and a poem by Bukowski. Tom Waits has some strange stories to tell on disc 3- 'night, night'. This is the perfect ending to a three series set that frames the art written and sung by Tom Waits.

Tom Waits was named as one of VH-1's Most Influential Artists of All Time, and it is no surprise that Waits' body of work has long been covered by other musicians. "There is also a long list of artists who have cited Waits as an inspiration, including Bob Dylan who named Tom as one of his "secret heroes".
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60 of 62 people found the following review helpful By K. H. Orton VINE VOICE on December 17, 2006
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
Well, Waits has finally emptied out the orphange. Then burnt it to the ground. Torched it. Holding court like a manic Fagin, Waits sets loose enough Oliver Twists & Artful Dodgers to live up to it's title.

Thoughtfully sequenced over 3 discs, Brawlers, Bawlers & Bastards says it all. Starting off with the demented Rockabilly of "Lie To Me", Brawlers lies somewhere between 1999's Mule Variations & 2004's "Real Gone". Highlights include the take-no-prisoners, "Fish In The Jailhouse" & a cover of Leadbelly's "Ain't Goin' Down To The Well" that defies easy categorization. Also notable is the gutter Gospel of "Lord I've Been Changed" & the rousing hobo ballad, "Bottom Of The World". While the heart of "Road To Peace" is certainly in the right place, this overtly political treatise quickly wears out its welcome after 1 listen. But despite the monotony of "Peace", things like "Rains On Me" & his barnstorming turn with The Ramones' "Jackie & Judy" are guaranteed to have you coming back for more.

If the unholy onslaught of "Real Gone" alienated any fans of Waits' softer side, Bawlers more than makes up for any ruffled feathers. "You Can Never Hold Back Spring" beautifully harks back to Waits' earlier work while rousing ballads like "Never Let Go Of Your Hand" rank as some of his best. No one spikes a dirge with bittersweet heartbreak like Waits & the likes of "Little Drop OF Poison" & "It's Over" are classics, pure & simple. For those who've heard Johnny Cash's version of "Down There By The Train", fans can finally hear the song in it's entirety. Perhaps Cash felt silly singing "Humptry Jackson" or "Gyp The Blood" but it comes at the expense of, "and Charlie Whitman is holding on to Dillinger's wings".
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23 of 23 people found the following review helpful By Wheelchair Assassin on April 6, 2007
Format: Audio CD
Nobody does grizzled and world-weary quite like Tom Waits, and coming off 2004's incredible Real Gone, the mammoth three-disc collection Orphans is yet more proof of his bizarre genius. Even putting aside the abundance of great music it contains, it is, if nothing else, a fitting tribute to Waits's persistently uncommercial, marketing-be-damned approach to his music. Comprised of a whopping 54 songs (both Waits originals and covers) and clocking in at about three hours, Orphans is vintage Waits from beginning to end-unvarnished, unconventional, and uncompromising. Given the enormous amount of variety to be found here, everyone's going to have their personal favorites, but whichever tracks one prefers there's no denying that Orphans makes the perfect testament to Waits's endless creativity, stinging wit and gritty, PhD-in-life sensibility.

Waits has long been a a man of many personas-demented carnival barker, old testament prophet, Jesus freak, depression-era bluesman-and even more than his more traditional albums Orphans shows off his chameleonic nature to the fullest extent. With its ample available space, Orphans allows Waits to induldge in genre exercises ranging from rockabilly (Lie To Me); to baroque pop (Little Drop of Poison); to swamp blues (Buzz Fledderjohn); to gospel (Lord I've been changed) without ever sounding like just an imitator of his varied influences. That said, Waits is still at his best when he dwells in a musical territory all his own, be it noisy, free-form experimentation or more reflective, sparsely instrumented balladry.

Each disc brings with its own unique feel, with the first one feeling the most like a proper Waits album in the vein of such all-encompassing classics as Rain Dogs and Bone Machine.
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Orphans Clarification
Good product AND environmentally responsible.
Nov 24, 2006 by Relatable1 |  See all 3 posts
PLEASE clarify... my set has 54 pages or so, not 92, not 24...
I'm going to guess that if you count one side of a page as one and the back as 2, you'll get the right amount. THe expensive set is the way to go, with the great idea of paper sleeves for the CD's all wrapped in the newstext from the 1880's. I know it's from that period, because the text comes... Read More
Oct 17, 2007 by thedre |  See all 3 posts
Limited edition???
The limited edition with the hardbound booklet is the only edition available -- there is no other edition currently for sale. The limited edition is the version that is selling on this page. Hope this solves any potential confusion. ANTI-
Oct 12, 2006 by ern malley |  See all 10 posts
Behind the Counter Sales Hurting Release
Best Buy had 1 copy the day it was released......which they could not produce. I waited for 15 minutes and eventually had to go somewhere else.
Went to Hastings and it was on the rack with the other boxed sets but none of the employees had any knowledge that it was even scheduled to come out,... Read More
Nov 27, 2006 by C. Roberts |  See all 4 posts
RIAA connection?
I don't know if RIAA Radar's been updated or not since your post, but it shows Orphans as being RIAA-safe now. So it's all cool.
Nov 20, 2006 by Knox Harrington |  See all 5 posts
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Orphans [Fold-out Digipak with 24-page booklet]
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