For those of you unfamiliar with Mr. Waits' work, he possesses a most distinct voice; a fine musical tool, honed to a keen edge with cheap whiskey and filterless cigarettes. The man can play more instruments than I can name, and has a remarkable talent for some of the most bizarre, abstract and graphic lyrics I've ever been privy to.
His most recent release; Beautiful Maladies: The Island Years, is a shining example of the broad spectrum of Waits' talents. Spanning a decade and seven separate albums, this compilation allows you to see exactly what Tom Waits is capable of, and it is quite impressive.
From the surreal sounds and odd lyrics of Singapore and Jockey Full of Bourbon (both romping good tunes about the seamy underside of the lives of sailors), to accordion accompanied waltzes like Innocent When You Dream and Strange Weather, to jazzy gospel tunes such as Way Down in the Hole and Jesus Gonna Be Here, this album is good clean fun for anyone with an open mind and a functional set of ears.
The album also includes songs from the opera Tom Waits wrote and directed: Frank's Wild Years, which is autobiographical and offers considerable insight into the twisted psyche and demented mentality of Mr. Waits himself. A heart-felt ten from me.
Buy Beautiful Maladies: The Island Years at amazon.com
Review by Myke Rudd