Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Throwing peanuts at a gorilla

What started out as a collection of non-album tracks, compilation and tribute contributions and other odds and ends somehow turned into a three-disc set featuring 30 brand new tracks (more then half the total.) Word has it Tom Waits heard what was initially assembled for Orphans and mumbled something to the affect of "mmmm... naaahhh... I don't think so." So he got to work recording some new material, as well as rerecording many of the tracks, and then tossed them into three separate piles: Brawlers, Bawlers and Bastards.

Album: Tom Waits - Orphans: Brawlers, Bawlers & Bastards
Download: "Road to Peace" , "You Can Never Hold Back Spring"

The first disc, Brawlers, is the familiar Waits of late... shuffling rock ala Mule Variations, and serves as a fine introduction into the set. About halfway through, Waits delivers his most topical and political of his career (and of any artist this year) with the song "Road to Peace," which reads like a newspaper report on the daily skirmishes in the West Bank. In it he namechecks Kissinger, Sharon, Abbas, and Bush, which is weird coming from the man who recently said the influence of political songs was "like throwing peanuts at a gorilla." A couple songs later, Waits recasts The Ramones' "The Return of Jackie and Judy" as a junkyard plea, and then turns the classic "Sea of Love" on it's ear if only for our listening pleasure.

Disc two, Bawlers, is a collection of Waits ballads and is easily the most accessible of the discs. Of particular note is his covers of Ledbetter's "Goodnight Irene" and The Ramones "Danny Says." Bawlers serves as a fine segue to Bastards as that album is where Waits' more difficult material resides. "Heigh Ho" was his contribution to the Disney compilation Stay Awake: Music From Vintage Disney Films, and is a good example of how Waits can turn an innocous song into the stuff of nightmares. Other oddities include Waits reading the nature of "Army Ants," Bukowski's poem "Nirvana," and his beat box cover of Daniel Johnston's "King Kong."

Some truly weird, wonderful stuff to be sure.

Quick hits before I go (Live Tom Waits tracks)

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drake leLane said...

Tom Waits - Orphans: Brawlers, Bawlers & Bastards

Disc 1 (Brawlers)
1. Lie To Me
2. Lowdown
3. 2:19
4. Fish In The Jailhouse
5. Botom Of The World
6. Lucinda
7. Ain't Goin' Down To The Well
8. Lord I've Been Changed
9. Puttin' On The Dog
10. Road To Peace
11. All The Time
Artist: Tom Waits
12. The Return Of Jackie And Judy
13. Walk Away
14. Sea Of Love
15. Buzz Fledderjohn
16. Rains On Me

Disc 2 (Bawlers)
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
7. World Keeps Turning
8. Tell It To Me
9. Never Let Go
10. Fannin Street
11. Little Man
12. It's Over
13. If I Have To Go
14. Goodnight Irene
15. The Fall Of Troy
16. Take Care Of All My Children
17. Down There By The Train
18. Danny Says
19. Jayne's Blue Wish
20. Young At Heart

Disc 3 (Bastards)
1. What Keeps Mankind Alive
2. Children's Story
3. Heigh Ho
4. Army Ants
5. Books Of Moses
6. Bone Chain
7. Two Sisters
8. First Kiss
9. Dog Door
10. Redrum
11. Nirvana
12. Home I'll Never Be
13. Poor Little Lamb
14. Altar Boy
15. The Pontiac
16. Spidey's Wild Ride
17. King Kong
18. On The Road
19. Dog Treat [Hidden Track]
20. Missing My Son [Hidden Track]

Andrew said...

I'm still on the fence about this. Though I've been a Waits fan since first hearing his raspy-rap "Step Right Up" on college radio some 25 years ago (Christ has it been that long?), a three-CD set seems to be just a bit too much Tom Waits for me. I downloaded "Road to Peace" and "You Can Never Hold Back Spring" advance tracks from eMusic last month. The whole ball of wax is available there today, so I may have to cherry-pick a few more tracks before I decide whether to get the whole thing or not.


drake leLane said...

I'm with you on the commitment angle... it's a bit much. I feel lucky that I get to hear it enough through this subscription to know that it's essential enough to add to my Amazon wish list for Christmas. (And to my Djangos.com 'notify me' list - alerts me when a used copy is available.)

Anonymous said...

Folks... these songs and their author ask for nothing. This is distilled stuff: heady, toxic and dangerous. You can't water it down, but consume in moderation if needs be. No-one's asking you for commitment, just a little time and understanding.