Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Bad as Me

by Tom Waits

Basically, you either love Tom Waits, or you don't.  Anyone who has looked over the types of music I usually write about on this site would perhaps be surprised to see that Ol' Tom is one of my favourite musical artists, but there is something so appealing about most of his music, and I've been listening to him for close to twenty years now, having first been introduced to him by a co-worker in retail who often used Waits as a means of clearing the store of lingerers a half hour before closing.

Bad As Me is Tom's newest album, and he plays things safe within the context of his experimental roots/rockabilly/punk/cabaret mash-ups.  It starts off strong - in fact, the first few seconds of 'Chicago', the opening song, sounded more like the beginning of a Michael Nyman piece than Waits.

We get the usual mix of Brawlers and Bawlers, with just a couple Bastards (to use the classification system that Tom introduced for his songs with his triple-album Orphans).  My favourite song is the closer to the first disc (I picked up the 'deluxe edition', which came with a second CD comprised of three songs), 'New Year's Eve', which has Tom paint a scene of urban disaffection, borrowing the chorus from 'Auld Lang Syne'; it's a formula that worked so well for him years ago with 'Tom Traubert's Blues' (aka 'Waltzing Matilda').

It's terrific to see that Waits is still producing new music, and continues to do it the way he always has, with staunch individualism and little regard for radio play or marketability.  This is not Tom's best album, but it's pretty good.

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