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All my favorite songs on this album are a testament to Waits's tremendous versatility. There is the silvertongue scat "Step Right Up..." the jazz dive "The One that Got Away..." the atmospheric "Small Change..." the weep-into-your-beer "Invitation to the Blues." "Invitation" and "Tom Traubert's Blues" (Waltzing Mathilda) are accompanied by heartbreaking strings and piano. The sax and string bass on some of the more jazzed-up tracks are pretty tight.
BTW I completely agree with the reviewer below that "I Can't Wait to Get off Work" would have been better middle-album filler, its slot as the final track of the album is somewhat bewildering. Of all the songs of the album that he could have ended on, this one is mediocre at best. The title track would have been the better choice - he used this to close a live performance on "Austin City Limits" in the late 70s and it was incredible. I'm insanely jealous of anyone who managed to be in the audience that night. For the rest of us, PBS still sometimes airs the reruns, so try and catch it sometime - really is something to see and as far as I know, no recordings of it are commercially available.
the "street poet at the piano" of the aforementioned trilogy,and the sonic,avante-gard expressionist of the 80's and 90's.
"Small Change" is a brilliant,essential work that both documents and celebrates the late night barfly lifestyle our hero had come to lovingly embrace at the time.From the first sung lyrics of the impossibly beautiful "Tom Traubert's Blues"- "Wasted and wounded,it ain't what the moon did,got what I paid for now" the mood is set for a joyride in a broken down jalopy through trash-strewn streets at 4am,past the hookers,transients,all-night diner's and strip joints that
haunt Waits' work from this era.His voice,ravaged by alcohol,cigarettes,and God know what else (remember this a guy who lived in a 9 dollar a night motel writing songs for the better part of a decade)maintains a beautiful quality and annotates these tales confidently.There's "Jitterbug Boy",the story of a drunk "holding up a lamp post",bragging of how he's done it all,from sleeping with Marilyn Monroe to having breakfast in the eye of a hurricane,all the while burning hundred dollar bills.On the classic "Invitation to the Blues",
we get the best song Springsteen never wrote.A business man just about to leave town falls for a waitress at a greasy spoon,
gives up his seat on the next bus out of town,and accepts her "invitation".Read more ›
Most recent customer reviews
This is the Waits album I heard first it also my favorite of his albums (well this and Bone Machine). This album is where Tom found his voice. Both singing and writing wise. Read morePublished on May 28 2013 by Stephen Bieth
Hmm... from the opening stretches of piano & strings in "Tom Trauberts Blues" to the wrap-up of "I Can't Wait to Get Off Work" this cd is a masterful... Read morePublished on April 21 2004 by Josh A McCormack
On this album Tom takes the listener to the same place "Notes from the Underground" takes the reader. Read morePublished on March 8 2004 by Rollie Anderson
Another superb offering from the poet laureate of Skid Row. This album from the bluesy vagrant phase of Waits's career features more brilliant storytelling ("Small... Read morePublished on Dec 31 2003 by David Bonesteel
As far as music is concerned this record is very weak. For most of the time Tom Waits just mumbles his poetry pretending to play piano. Read morePublished on Nov. 4 2003 by Nihlus
I first heard this album when it came out in 1977 and listened to it until the grooves turned white. Read morePublished on Sept. 17 2003 by A. T. Smith
Tom Waits is a great American poet, a genius who has created an entire lyric world where somehow wasted life is full of value. Read morePublished on July 1 2003 by mark twain
I started my Tom Waits collection late in life - I picked up "Alice" when it came out. Until then, I was only vaguely familiar with his work. Read morePublished on April 22 2003 by Clay Davis