Graham Reid | | 1 min read
Although Tom Waits' dramatic change of musical direction after 1980, curated by his wife Kathleen Brennan who help him forge connections with the avant-garde, has lead to his music being much admired and respected, there were many who might still agree with critic Ian Penman who was bold enough to admit, "Personally I prefer mid-period Waits. Blue Valentine is my favourite, and I find something a tad 'off' abut most of his subsequent work . . . it doesn't touch me, ever, the way the mid-period stuff does".
You suspect he might be speaking for many who still get affected by Waits' battered piano ballads and twisted Beat poetics on those early albums.
And although I genuinely love a lot of Waits' work over the past three decades, I too have a soft spot for his albums Heart of Saturday Night (I had a radio programme named that in 1980-81) and Small Change.
Those looking for a refesher in early Waits after his new album Bad As Me (where two of the standouts are battered piano ballads of "the old style") need look no further than this comprehensive collection of five albums: Closing Time from '73, Heart of Saturday Night ('74), the double live Nighthawks at the Diner ('75), Small Change ('76) and Foreign Affairs ('77).
Across these five discs are classic Waits songs: Ol' 55, I Hope That I Don't Fall in Love With You, Shiver Me Timbers, Diamonds on My Wind Shield, Please Call Me Baby, The Ghosts of Saturday Night, Tom Traubert's Blues, I Wish I Was in New Orleans, The Piano Has Been Drinking, Pasties and a G String, Small Change, Jack and Neil, I Never Talk to Strangers, Burma Shave . . .
And if you "like his old stuff" then here's the good news.
These five come as a set for just $20 at JB Hi-Fi stores here.
And that, my friends, is an essential Bargain Buy.