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Beautiful Maladies: The Island Years

4.3 out of 5 stars 37 customer reviews

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Audio CD, June 16, 1998
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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

23 tracks taken from the seven albums Tom released on Island from 1983 to 1993, perhaps the most consistently interesting and challenging body of work by any solo artist of the period. Includes Clap Hands; Singapore; Shore Leave; Frank's Wild Years; Downtown Train; Temptation; The Black Rider; Jesus Gonna Be Here , and more.

Amazon.com

Tom Waits pulled off a neat trick with the 1983 release of Swordfishtrombones: he disengaged himself from the present (and his own recent achievements) and allied himself with the past. And yet no one could accuse him of becoming mired in nostalgia. A decade before the phrase lo-fi gained favor, Waits purposely ravaged his songs by stomping them into peculiar shapes and utilizing arcane instruments and recording techniques to further bend them into new kinds of aural sculptures. The result was a genuine musical breakthrough. Beautiful Maladies gathers 23 tracks from Waits's seven post-Swordfishtrombones Island LPs. These pretty/ugly tracks provide a riveting view of Tom's wild years. While at least four Waits Island titles qualify as essentials, Beautiful Maladies and the 1988 live set, Big Time, provide compact introductions to a matchless body of work. --Steven Stolder
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Product Details

  • Audio CD (June 16, 1998)
  • Original Release Date: June 16, 1998
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Island
  • ASIN: B000007QQL
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (37 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #41,289 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Audio CD
If you're already a Tom Waits fan, a true believer (like I am), then you know all of the albums anthologized on this disc, and own half or more of them. The question is: Is it worth buying a CD that duplicates songs you have, for the ones you don't have? As other reviewers confirm, this is a fine collection of the '83-'93 arc of music anchored by his popular 1985 Rain Dogs album (the music on the Down by Law soundtrack). To add to the Amazon listing, here are the songs on this CD broken down by the albums that this collection is drawn from -- to help you make the purchase tradeoff decision:

* Swordfishtrombones (1983)
Underground
Shore Leave
Johnsburg, Illinois
16 Shells From A Thirty-Ought Six
Frank's Wild Years

* Rain Dogs (1985)
Singapore
Clap Hands
Jockey Full Of Bourbon
Time
Downtown Train

* Frank's Wild Years (1987)
Hang On St. Christopher
Straight To The Top
Temptation
Way Down In The Hole
Innocent When You Dream

* Big Time (1988)
Cold, Cold Ground (Live)
Strange Weather (Live)

* Bone Machine (1992)
Earth Died Screaming
Jesus Gonna Be Here
I Don't Wanna Grow Up

* Night On Earth (1992)
Good Old World (Waltz)

* The Black Rider (1993)
The Black Rider
November

If you're not already a Tom Waits believer, but rather are shopping for a taste, this is the perfect mid-career starter set for an artist with a huge, long, and still-ongoing musical dance. It has a mix of approachable and challenging tracks, and captures the essence of Tom Waits at his best, summed up in the editorial review: "you know, the usual: love, death, failure, abject despair, existentialism--with a display of filthy irreverence and furious intellect."
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By A Customer on February 23, 2000
Format: Audio CD
Having listened to Tom Waits work over the years from the beginning up and having some favorites not found here, I nevertheless found this CD addicting... a wonderful, mesmerizing mix of astounding music that is just enough for times when for one reason or another, I can't handle some of my other favorite CDs by him. If you can't buy them all, or if you can and have many, this is still an excellent pick. It's Waits. How could it not be?
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Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
Even if you have most of Tom Waits' music in your collection, this CD gathers 23 of his best "middle" Island-years music. I especially like the inclusion of the great tunes from "Frank's Wild Years" and "Mule Variations" (two of my favorite albums). This is a great compilation CD to keep in the car for those times when you need that Tom Waits fix.
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Format: Audio CD
If you are a long time Waits fan, then you should have heard all of these songs, but it is nice to have them all in one neat little package. They are just as wierd, disturbing, and... wierd. Waits is uniqe with his talent and style of expressing himself. If you have not heard him, then you should, and if you do not like his "music", you have not given it half a chance.
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Format: Audio CD
A dark dirty hungry decadent and ultimately beautiful look at the hard side of life. Whether you have nothing of his or all his CDs, you need to get this one too. He's a madman and as such can see through to the other side. Exquisite music.
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Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
There are a number of good to great songs on this compilation, particularly "Hang on St. Christopher", "Way Down in the Hole", and "Downtown Train", but there are a number of other good and great songs from his Island years that are missing.
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I always took to this guy, but it took almost half a century for me to actually sort through what it is I liked about him and I finally understand where he's coming from enough to purchase something. I love the smoke in the eyes kind of feel to his troubled ballads and the early southern blues elements of his style but I'm lovin his new stuff too. He has a huge library so recommend you check out videos of what you like. On Maladies, some stuff a little 'gritty' but clap hands, black crow and temptation are my everlasting favorites. The recent RnR Hall of Fame show made my stomach growl for his music in a big way. Wish I'd been a better fan all along.
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Format: Audio CD
Despite a voice that sounds like a chainsaw through concrete, Tom Waits (like Dylan before him) is the best interpreter of Tom Waits. This collection comprises his Island years, the most fertile and iconoclastic of his career so far. Some might argue to just use Swordfishtrombones or Mule Variations as a starter, but this compilation gives a wider view of an already versatile artist. Whether bopping along to "Hang On St. Christopher" or tuning in to the chilling wastescapes of "November," this CD is a manic-depressive's joyride through the mind of a twisted genius. And then, when you get to a song like "Downtown Train" which is perfectly suited to the pop market, your mind really blows open.
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