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Black Rider

4.4 out of 5 stars 35 customer reviews

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58th Annual GRAMMY Awards
Discover this year's nominees on CD and Vinyl, including Album of the Year, Artist of the Year, Best New Artist of the Year, and more. Learn more

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Product Details

  • Audio CD (Nov. 5 1993)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Universal Music Canada
  • ASIN: B000001E29
  • Other Editions: Audio CD  |  Audio Cassette
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars 35 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #25,321 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)
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1. Lucky Day Overture
2. The Black Rider
3. November
4. Just The Right Bullets
5. Black Box Theme
6. 'T' Ain't No Sin
7. Flash Pan Hunter/Intro
8. That's The Way
9. The Briar And The Rose
10. Russian Dance
11. Gospel Train/Orchestra
12. I'll Shoot The Moon
13. Flash Pan Hunter
14. Crossroads
15. Gospel Train
16. Interlude
17. Oily Night
18. Lucky Day
19. The Last Rose Of Summer
20. Carnival

Product Description

Product Description

20 tracks from the barfly poet including Lucky Day, Flash Pan Hunter; Crossroads; Gospel Train; Oily Night; The Last Rose of Summer; Carnival , and more.


Summoned to Hamburg, Germany, to write music for a live stage production of Robert Wilson's The Black Rider, musical mastermind Waits took to the task at hand with gusto, assembling an eclectic crew of musicians to become "the pit band [he'd] always dreamed of." Several years later Waits assembled another "orchestra" in San Francisco to record many of the songs he'd written for the live production. Those tracks are found here, alongside a few rough gems from sessions in Hamburg. You'll find some musical matter familiar to Waits fans: accordions, carnivals, violas, banjos, the devil (a key figure in The Black Rider), a singing saw, bassoons, and trombones. Waits' many voices tell the rather disjointed story with a variety of musical styling, and the assembled whole is pretty much a sum of its parts (but at least they're interesting parts): a touch of Day of the Dead, a whiff of carny, a nod to Brecht, a dash of film noir, and the scent of narcosis (William Burroughs makes an appearance here). Not easy listening, by any means, but a feast for the ears. --Lorry Fleming

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Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Audio CD
It's not always easy to discern the logic behind the organization of a Tom Waits album; fortunately the man is a good enough musician to get away with juxtaposing music of widely differing themes and styles all on the same disc. It's even harder to follow the soundtracks to the multiple stage-productions for which he has written music, since there is no way to tell where each song and instrumental number fits in the universal scheme of the plot.
When dealing with Tom Waits, again, it doesn't really matter. Few of us were lucky enough to be hanging around the Thalia theatre when The Black Rider had its run ... I wasn't even ten years old at the time! Even fewer of us could recite the Black Rider story on call; it's an old German folk tale that was also set to music by Carl Maria von Weber in the 19th century. Consequently, I know little more about the illustrious old tale than I could gather from the liner notes here. But I still love the album dearly.
The more releases we see from living legend Waits, the more it seems that he can't make a CD without the stamp of brilliance on it. Some of these songs easily rank with the best of his career. "Just the Right Bullets" is mind-blowing, and the instrumental backing has a sound I haven't found in any of Waits' other work. "The Briar and the Rose," with its allusions to Waits' wife, Kathleen Brennan, is among the very best of his ballads. Nor is there any way to beat the carnival-barking announcement of the opening track, announcing an exhibition of "human oddities." Indeed.
What makes The Black Rider unusual, perhaps, is the presense of a large number of instrumentals.
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Format: Audio CD
This is Tom Waits's most original album by far. There are no regurgatated melodies from blues, jazz, and country like on previous efforts. Instead they are ripped of from romani folk music and circus tunes, however thats not meant as a criticism. These styles suit his voice quite well. It's not that his lyrics are better, or the presence of William B., it's the wonderfull back-up band he has this time around that makes this C.D. a must own. The orchestra is fabulous and the tunes are unique. Tom likes to experiment but too often experiment ends up meaning play very slowly with the intonation just a bit off. On this release he writes some great tunes that are fun even in an instrumental way. The music probably turned out so great because it was done for a play, which meant that Tom got slightly more ambitous with his orchestration and melody choices. Goot thing too as you are unlikely to ever hear a more oringinal Tom Waits album. 'November' in particular makes me cry everytime. Highly reccomended.
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Format: Audio CD
I was always of the opinion that Tom's years at Island Records were his most ingenius (though this year's double release of "Alice" and "Blood Money" quite possibly changed all that), and I have always disagreed with the folks (well-intentioned though they may be) that say "Bone Machine" was the last "true" Tom Waits album before the release of "Mule Variations." I personally see Tom all over this album. Granted, I did not have the privelege of actually seeing a stage production of "The Black Rider," and the only things I know about the plot I got from the liner notes. Still, I think something in this play must have touched Tom's soul in a profound way. To chart this album on the Waits map, I'd put it about halfway between his wild and ambitious late-80s project "Franks Wild Years" and his just-released tearfully touching opus "Alice." It is, of course, no coincidence that those two albums were also the results of theatric endeavours. Still, "The Black Rider" is unique in that the story itself was not a product of Waits's imagination, yet he seems to relate to it almost as if it were. "November," "That's the Way," and "Briar and the Rose" lend touches of real beauty to this album. "Briar and the Rose" especially would not seem out of place on "Alice," while "Just the Right Bullets" and "Crossroads" seem to let you in on what Tom really thinks about the whole mess. The instrumentals on this are cacophonous even for Waits, which may or may not turn you on, depending on taste. Of course, no Waits album would be complete without the glitz of the carnival scene making an appearance in some form. We get this on the opening track, with Tom giving his own rendition of barker patter.Read more ›
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Format: Audio CD
The Black Rider is a weird album for an artist noted for making weird albums. This might just be his weirdest. Not a regular Waits album, per se, and certainly not a "cast recording" as the listing states, The Black Rider evolved out of the Robert Wilson musical (with a libretto from William S. Burroughs) that Waits wrote the music for. What this album actually consists of are studio versions of some of these songs. It's roughly comparable to the style of Bone Machine, his previous studio album, but it's actually quite different. In fact, this album is unique in the Waits catalog. Though it has 20 tracks, there are only a handful of fully-formed Waits "songs": the rest being instrumentals, songs written with other people (such as Burroughs, who also "sings" several of the tracks), and short interludes between the more major tracks. This makes the album, along with Bone Machine and the recently released Alice, a fully-fledged, self-contained effort with a consistent sound, mood, and set of themes. One wonders how well the scattershot story - something involving the Devil, magic bullets, and lost love - translates onto the stage; as it stands here, the story is far from linear, but the lyrics are pure Waits... and enjoyable on their own. Burroughs actually brings down the songs he contributes to in my opinion - but I'm a Waits fan. This album usually is not mentioned when people reel off the names of Tom's studio albums, and it's easy to see why. I would approach this as a real work of Waits, but separate from his other albums - a satellite, spinning around them, but never quite coming into the same orbit. I've also seen people who regard this as a masterwork and his best album, and, while I don't agree with them, you can see where they're coming from, too. Simply put: not Wait's best album, but one that is unique in his catalog, and that you will want to own if you're a fan - might also be a way to attract non-Waits fans to Waits.
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