Tom Waits

Tom Waits is one of those rare artists who has actually created a genre all his own. His gruff, howling, death rattle of a voice notwithstanding, he has carved out a musical world that is dark and primal, with shades of blues, jazz, Eastern European sounds, rumbas, waltzes and more. He tells stories of love and death populated with drunkards, murderers, hookers, madmen, gun-runners and shady people of all types. Over the course of more than three decades and twenty-odd albums, Waits has also recorded dozens of songs for films, many of which appear on the fittingly titled Orphans, a three-disc set of outtakes, rarities, unreleased songs, and thirty new recordings. There are strange spoken-word diatribes on insects, a murderous love song about sibling rivalry and a drunken barroom lament about the troubles old altar boys face. Waits and his wife and writing partner, Kathleen Brennan, took three years to put the collection together, so it's no slapdash closet-cleaning exercise; you'll wonder why many of the songs never made it onto an album.


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