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Blood Money (Remastered)
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Vinyl, Original recording remastered, October 1, 2004
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Blood Money uses the same template and players as Alice (released at the same time) and first saw life as an opera production by Robert Wilson. It's Waits's treatment of Georg Buchner's 1837 socio-political play, Woyzek which premiered in 2000 in Copenhagen. It's a dark morality play performed in a style where a barker from a medicine show is mysteriously transported to the Weimar Republic via Tin Pan Alley. Disturbing and delirious when it's not romantic and hilarious, the songs have a much more direct emotional appeal than the surrealistic Alice. 1. Misery Is The River of the World 2. Everything Goes to Hell 3. Coney Island Baby 4. All The World Is Green 5. God's Away On Business 6. Another Man's Vine 7. Knife Chase 8. Lullaby 9. Starving In The Belly Of A Whale 10. The Part You Throw Away 11. Woe 12. Calliope 13. A Good Man Is Hard To Find
Blood Money is up there with Waits's best albums from the mid-'80s, veering as it does from sexy insomniac circus music to gorgeously heart-tugging lullabies to woozy zigzag bluesy romps to what can only be described as Oscar the Grouch singing out of tune on top of the soundtrack to an old French film. Blood Money's 13 songs were cowritten by Tom Waits and longtime collaborator and wife Kathleen Brennan for a Robert Wilson production of Georg Büchner's unfinished, protomodernist 1837 play, Woyzeck, about a Kafkaesque German soldier who goes crazy after doing medical experiments for money and kills his girlfriend after witnessing a perceived infidelity. The album's worldview is, necessarily, bleak. The lyrics are hilariously misanthropic, occasionally hallucinatory, and ring with the truth of Tin Pan Alley clichés turned inside out. "Coney Island Baby," in particular, is a grand statement, with Waits delicately croaking the lines "She's a rose, she's the pearl / She's the spin on my world / All the stars make their wishes on her eyes." The album's manifesto, however, is to be found in the title tune, as Waits spits out the words "If there's one thing you can say about mankind / There's nothing kind about man / You can drive out nature with a pitch fork / But it always comes roaring back again." Released at the same time as the lyrical, lovely Alice, the ragged and rhythmic Blood Money marks the return of one of our most gifted meta-singer-songwriters to the top of his game. --Mike McGonigal
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I've had a chance to listen to this disc a little closer. There's surface noise. When listened to in a very quiet environment, with real high resolution there's the "feeling" of vinyl. It's not exactly like vinyl but the surface noise leading into a few of the tracks gives the impression of a phonograph. The dynamic range while pleasing and certainly full isn't the same but it's good. Despite how dark the album is it's relaxing. I thought I'd add that. My last exposure to Waits was in the 90's, I liked it but I really hadn't listened to much of his music since. But; I find myself drawn further into it now 20 + years later.
Tom left a few of us behind with "Bone Machine," and alienated more with "Black Rider," two noisy, staccato-infused puzzlers that required listeners to dig pretty deep to find the nuggets. "Mule Variations" was a nice return to songwriting form, but "Blood Money" is the real deal. I can't highlight individual songs - there's not a weak one in the set. Just get it, Tom fans. You know who you are.