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TBTS Reviews: Tom Waits – Bad As Me

October 30, 2011

In the world of modern music Tom Waits is a unique animal. Somewhere between the voices of Leonard Cohen and Louis Armstrong lies Tom. Having met the man once in New York, I have only good things to say about his manner and presence. Loading into a Central Park view hotel on a rainy mid-September night, he still took time out to shake my hand and talk for a few minutes. A couple days later, I was fortunate enough to be present at a performance of his, backed by Kronos Quartet. As he was not previously listed on the bill for Healing the Divide: A Concert For Peace & Reconciliation, the audience as a whole was quite surprised to see him saunter to the front of the stage, and applauded his unexpected arrival as they would a conquering hero. What followed was a denouement to one of the best weeks of my life. Luckily someone was smart enough to record the evening. That was 8 years ago. Since then he has released Real Gone, a triple disc compilation, and a double live. Now in 2011, his new album Bad As Me (Anti-) continues to build upon his legacy as rock’s premier troubadour.

Featuring Keith Richards on guitar “Chicago” kicks of Bad As Me like gangbusters. Brash and throttle wide it wastes no time bringing you into Tom’s world. The perfect choice for an opener. “Pay Me” sounds hauntingly familiar, but in the way only Tom can do it. “New Years Eve” is as valid a new take on an old theme (“Auld Lang Syne”) as we have heard since The Doors’ “Alabama Song” or Hendrix’s “Star Spangled Banner,” and will surely find its way onto many a midnight playlist. There is a broad range between Bad As Me‘s most vivid and sparsely arranged tracks, giving it an interest level far beyond the ordinary.  Blues, Folk, Jazz, Rock, Waits puts it all on the table.

Definitely one of Waits’ more accessible works, Bad As Me is a great offering for those curious about the artist and his musings. If you’ve never taken the chance to get into what  Mr. Waits does, this is your opportunity.

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