I bought "Small Change" for "Waltzing Matilda" - a song I'd always loved. I can't take it off the CD player now. The whole thing is perfect - and it's hard for me to call any collection of music perfect. It's Tom from back in his 'romantic vaudeville' days, when his songs were all about love and loss and everyday junk. Later, he turned to the more carnival macabre feel - which is every bit as fantastic, but if you want essential Waits, this is the CD to get. Get this and the soundtrack to "One From the Heart."
Beautiful, beautiful stuff.
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.