Still a crooner then, but things were starting to change
29-year old wallflower | West Lafayette, IN | 04/29/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Tom Waits has had a career in music that is mercurial at best. His 1973 debut CLOSING TIME was probably the closest he got to recording a tried-and-true singer-songwriter album, but the follow-up, 1974's HEART OF SATURDAY NIGHT, proved that, lyrically at least, Tom was beginning to make changes that would drastically alter his sound & image. It was a slow process, but by 1978's BLUE VALENTINE, the fruits of that change were starting to show. Tom's voice was just beginning to get more edgy & his lyrics were starting to go off into other dimensions altogether. Yet there was still melody high up in the mix, making BLUE VALENTINE a good way to ease into the more experimental stuff.
I was shocked as well as anyone when I heard the album open with "Somewhere" from WEST SIDE STORY. But it's the voice that sings it, an early example of gravel-voiced Waits that at first jars the listener, then suddenly sounds natural. Definitely the most original interpretation of this song!
Furthermore, the imagery in Tom's lyrics was getting more & more unique. Titles like "Red Shoes By The Drugstore", "Christmas Card From A Hooker In Minneapolis", "Whistlin' Past The Graveyard" & "A Little Bullet From A Pretty Blue Gun" with words to match are proof that Tom was on the road to a different musical journey that would both leave longtime listeners behind & welcome even more newer ones. In fact, this is the album that turned me into a Tom Waits fan.
For those still floored by Tom's sudden musical change of heart, there were songs like "Romeo Is Bleeding", "Kentucky Avenue" & "Blue Valentines", which were still musically close to Waits' earlier work, but the lyrics were showing signs of evolution. They should probably listen with caution to "$29.00", for the unorthodox rhythm to that song hints at the amusical approach Waits was working towards at the time.
BLUE VALENTINE is often given a glossing-over in Tom Waits' legacy, calling it a transitional work at best. Sure it may have been, but even that from Tom Waits is guaranteed to be better than most other artists'. You could tell that Tom was starting to evolve, but he still had one foot left in the past, not quite ready to abandon his previous sound just yet. Those lovers of early Tom Waits who've found his later work to be a trying experience, BLUE VALENTINE will be a good introduction of Tom Waits moving from normal to out-there."
A Work that Requires No Introduction
space_antelope | Baltimore Maryland | 01/08/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"When my father, a longtime Tom Waits fan, first gave me the album "Small Change" about five years ago, I don't think I listened to it for any more than two minutes before turning it off. I didn't get what I wanted from the music, and I didn't have time to sit around waiting. I returned to Tom Waits a few years later, and have since found myself with a new addiction that only grows stronger the more I listen. "Blue Valentine" is an album that evokes more emotion from me than I can easily state. From the tender opening strings of 'Somewhere' to the solo guitar notes and final almost whimper from Waits himself on 'Blue Valentines,' there is never a dull moment. The combination of Waits' voice (and some playing, primarily on guitar and piano) and the other music on the album creates an atmosphere that is simultaneously brash, angry, agressive, and still innocent, timid, and loving.The imagery interwoven throughout the lyrics on the album are undoubtedly a huge portion of the reason that I love this music as much as I do. On top of that, however, is the manner in which the songs and their messages connect on some strange level. The colour blue is present everywhere, and serves to unify all these feelings on the album.No matter what time of day, no matter what my mood, no matter what the weather, I can always find something in this recording that I can relate to. Since my second exposure to Tom Waits (which is the one that got me hooked) I've had trouble choosing one album as my absolute favourite. While others may have highlights that I can particularly appreciate, more often than not I find myself settling down with "Blue Valentine" spinning away in the stereo. A classic, timeless, near perfect recording."
Don't you rememeber I promised I would write you
M. Grigoryan | Santa Monica,CA | 10/18/1999
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Even if there had been only the title song recorded this CD would have deserved the highest rating. Blue Valentine releases more adrenaline to my blood then anything else in this world. Listening to CLOSING TIME or SMALL CHANGE makes you think T.W. is talented. BLUE VALENTINES assures you he is a GENIUS..."
Possibly Wait's 70's peak
Bud Kinch | Lovers Lane, Tipperary | 08/30/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I'm not the type who gives 5 stars to any above-average album that tickles my fancy. It's just I usually only review albums that are special to me. Hence, I am reviewing this. It's great. He hit something here, it was a sort of pro album if you get me. As great as they were, the albums before this sounded a bit like a new guy trying very hard to get that sound he had in his head on to tape, whereas on Blue Valentine he sounds like a natural. Sounds just like he's been doing this for decades and he just got a few musicians and popped into a studio and nailed a classic Waits album. The same goes for Heartattack And Vine. He was really getting into this style.
The vibe is top-class. Late-night metropolitan sleazebags, junkies, hookers, winos. It's all there. You can hear the neon-lit signs in that vibraphone-type of instrument in Red Shoes By The Drugstore. There is great maudlin romance and sentimentality in cuts like Kentucky Avenue and the title track, and, in my opinion, Christmas Card From Minneapolis is quite possibly a contender for the greatest song ever written. So much colour, power, passion, character. Great stuff. And of course, to give it that natural feel there are some great blues numbers that just flow and, although they don't strike you as being amazing, they are just as important as the other tunes. Listen to '28$' or 'Whistlin' Past The Graveyard' a few times, soon you won't be able to imagine the record without them. Oh, I almost forgot, his cover of 'Somewhere' is quite excellent, too."
So worth looking back
Lynne Dill | Lewis Center, Ohio United States | 01/22/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"First off, I'm a Tom Waits junkie. So if I appear slightly biased, it's because I am. I have been acquiring all the Tom Waits music I can and have everything that's available. Since I had most of the songs on this cd on other cds, I had passed this one by. What a mistake! If the only song on the cd was "Kentucky Avenue" it would be well worth the cost and the effort. This song sung by someone else, without the voice and the sincerity of Mr. Waits might have sounded like a cheap effort to bring on the tears, but his delivery is so touching I feel like I'm eavesdroping on a special and private conversation. It's a story really of what would seem to be a 9 year old or so talking to a friend, sharing gossip and making big plans. The love and tenderness being shown by one friend to another is devestating. It goes beyond touching the listener's heart, and goes straight to the listener's soul. The same goes for "$29 and an Alligator Purse", "Blue Valentine" -- there's not a bad song in the bunch. The background music is some of the best blues ever played. I can't imagine anyone buying this cd and being dissappointed with it."