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Bone Machine

4.7 out of 5 stars 61 customer reviews

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58th Annual GRAMMY Awards
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Product Details

  • Audio CD (Sept. 4 1992)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Universal Music Canada
  • ASIN: B000001DVZ
  • Other Editions: Audio CD  |  Audio Cassette  |  LP Record
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars 61 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #21,511 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)
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1. Earth Died Screaming
2. Dirt In The Ground
3. Such A Scream
4. All Stripped Down
5. Who Are You
6. The Ocean Doesn't Want Me
7. Jesus Gonna Be Here
8. A Little Rain
9. In The Colosseum
10. Goin' Out West
11. Murder In The Red Barn
12. Black Wings
13. Whistle Down The Wind
14. I Don't Wanna Grow Up
15. Let Me Get Up On It
16. That Feel

Product Description


The abnormal has become the norm for Tom Waits, so, once again, Bone Machine is laden with odd timbres, archaic acoustics, and raw vocals. This time, however, Waits has built his songs around a Harry Partch-inspired fascination with primitive percussion. With a crew of Northern California musicians along to add spare adornments, Waits fashions pretty, sentimental tunes ("A Little Rain", Whistle Down the Wind") and hellish stampedes of clanging metal and hoarse shouting ("Earth Died Screaming", "Let Me Get Up on It", the latter the 53-second distillation of Bone Machine quintessence--just Waits distorted bellowing and banging. Bone Machine is both appalling and appealing. There are elements to this album that seem designed to drive away the faint of heart, and then there are melodies that melt in your hand. --Steve Stolder

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Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Audio CD
The way this album opens is strangely similar to the title of the album; "Bone Machine". Indeed, when "Earth Died Screaming" begins to fade in, the first thought I had was "wow.....that sounds like rattling bones!" This is one of Tom Waits' stream-of-consciousness monlogues songs, with odd, yet very solid and interesting rythm backing him. The next track, "Dirt In the Ground", is one of my favorite tracks on the album. I've always found that the flow in which Waits delivers his lyrics contributes significantly to the rythm of the song, and that is evident on this track. I find it to be very touching, with Tom using his self-described (tounge-in-cheek) "Prince voice", a higher register of his raspy vocals. This leads to a series of lesser tracks which I can only say I appreciate for their rythm, and "Who Are You" does have a nice melody.

After that, we have another of Waits' experimental pieces, similar to "9th & Hennepin" from Rain Dogs and "What's He Building" from Mule Variations. I have always enjoyed this piece, and it does especially suit the lyrics of the song (which, personally, I found mildly disturbing). Next, we have a stripped-down, gospel-blues number called "Jesus Gonna Be Here", in which Waits returns partially to his "Prince voice". I really like the rythm and vibe of this song, which I have tried to capture in one of my own recordings. "A Little Rain" I find very beutiful, especially the verse which goes "....she was 15 years old, and she'd seen the ocean.....she climbed into a van, with a vegabond.....and the last thing she said, was "I love you, mom"......and A Little Rain never hurt no one...." Personally, this brings to mind 1960's southern California, in which a young girl is climbing into the back of a van with some shady characters, while storm clouds loom near by.
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Format: Audio CD
This was my first taste of Tom Waits (I've since got some other of his albums) and I have to say that this is one of the absolute finest albums I have ever heard. At times sad and delicate, other times loud, in your face and purposely devoid of melody, Bone Machine is an experimental, eclectic album that is unlike anything else I've discovered. There are elements of rock, blues and jazz (not instrumental jazz), but this is still unique and impossible to pigeon-hole into a particular genre.
The album opens with Earth Died Screaming, and loud, wierd and apocalyptic song that gives you a good impression of what is to come. The lyrics deal with the end of the world, only Waits is too busy thinking of his lover to notice ("The Earth died screaming while I lay dreaming - dreaming of you"). In essense though, the track is very representative of the experimental nature of the album and Waits incredible lyrics. When I say that Waits is perhaps the best lyricist I've ever heard, I am not exagerating. When coupled with Waits unique voice, at times shaky and emotional and at other times fierce and haunting, some of the greatest music I've ever heard is created.
The album is certainly not repetitive either, nor does it outstay its welcome. Earth Died Screaming, Jesus Gonna Be Here, In The Colloseum and Murder In The Red Barn are all loud, sometimes atonal percussion lead tracks with Waits growling and spitting out bizzare and sometimes scary imagery. All Stripped Down, Such A Scream, Going Out West and I Don't Wanna Grow Up are bluesy rock songs that make you want to bang your head (incidentally, Going Out West was the only other non-electronic track alongside The Pixies' Where Is My Mind used in the Fight Club soundtrack).
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Format: Audio CD
This album is, very easily, the most "Tom Waits" album you can find. This is Tom Waits at his most original. From the already unnerving song titles ("Earth Died Screaming", "Such a Scream", "The Ocean Doesn't Want Me", "Murder in the Red Barn") you get an idea of what the record may sound like. However, "Bone Machine" is vastly different from any other Tom Waits release.
Instead of even a trap kit for drums, nearly every song employs Tom, Kathleen, and another musician playing "sticks" (as a comical sidenote, the three musicians are called 'The Boners') which literally sounds like a human skeleton being played like a xylophone. Then, the rest of the instrumentation is fairly low-key. If I had to assign instruments that could summarize this album, it would be "sticks", bass clarinet, and acoustic bass. The most essential part of this album is Tom's voice, which has never come closer to convincing half of America that he is dying of throat cancer. To add to the emotional rawness that Tom purveys through these songs, many of the time he sings in falsetto...you can imagine what THAT sounds like.
The songs are very blues-influenced on this album, but early blues. The instrumentation is "All Stripped Down", but extremely original. And if you haven't heard "Goin' Out West" yet, you are missing out on Tom Waits' coolest song ever.
This album is not for the light Waits fans. If you need an intro disc, get "Raindogs" or "Alice", don't start here. But for a Tom Waits fan, this may be his best.
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