Although Waits has always been an idiosnycratic artist, this is surely his brighest example of perversity. In fact, it is undoubtedly one of the most self-indulgent, masturbatory (there's even two songs alluding to it), arguably overdone albums of the entire singer/songwriter canon. So let me explain why I like it. This is one of the best albums I've ever heard at conjuring up an atmosphere; it really sounds like you're sitting there in a bar listening to Tom do these songs. Certainly, he went to extreme measures to achieve this. For this album, Waits set up an actual nightclub in the Record Plant and invited an audience of friends and fans to listen to him perform this work live in its entirety, as it was recorded. The recording itself is immaculate. The quality is great and crystal-clear and defining, a lot better than on Tom's other albums from this period. It's obvious that a lot of care was put into the conception of this album, and I think it succeeded in what it attempted to accomplish. This is not saying, by any means, that the album is perfect. It can be grating at times, prodding and overlong at others. Most of the songs are prefaced with spoken word, comic bits by Waits that at times are absolutely hilarous. He comes off more as a stand-up comic who also happens to be a musican than simply a musician on this album. Certainly it is a very, very indulgent album, and I don't dare reccommend it to anybody but dedicated Tom Waits fan. Others will surely lose patience with it. This is not Tom Waits's best album - far from it - but fans will revel in it, and he hasn't done this kind of thing since. It's a unique album - for Waits, and, indeed, for anybody. My reccomendation: if you're not familar Tom Waits, you should get some of his better albums first (say, Small Change, Rain Dogs, or Mule Variations.) However, if you dig Waits, you'll definately want to get this.