Tom Waits's hipster persona began to evaporate at the beginning of the '80s, but not before he released the transitional but eminently worthwhile Heartattack and Vine, which contained "On the Nickel," a Dickensian tale of ... more »street life, and "Jersey Girl," a song Bruce Springsteen gave a far wider airing to on his Live 1975-1985 box set. You can hear hints of Waits's style growing more trenchant on songs like "Downtown" and the stark, bluesy title track, which contains the immortal line "Don't you know there ain't no devil / That's just God when he's drunk." Indeed. --Daniel Durchholz« less
Tom Waits's hipster persona began to evaporate at the beginning of the '80s, but not before he released the transitional but eminently worthwhile Heartattack and Vine, which contained "On the Nickel," a Dickensian tale of street life, and "Jersey Girl," a song Bruce Springsteen gave a far wider airing to on his Live 1975-1985 box set. You can hear hints of Waits's style growing more trenchant on songs like "Downtown" and the stark, bluesy title track, which contains the immortal line "Don't you know there ain't no devil / That's just God when he's drunk." Indeed. --Daniel Durchholz
"No matter what style of music Tom Waits' experiments with, his strongest card is always his lyrics. Before this album, I always found "Closing Time" to be the album that best captures whimsical lyrics of romance, heartbreak, and past loves (no matter how coarse and cynical you may be, try getting through "Martha" or "Grapefruit Moon" without feeling a tug-of-a-heartstring). Where "Closing Time" had a unique mix of jazz, country, and a smattering of blues, "Heartattack & Vine" plays a harder blues style throughout most of the CD. The songs that steal the show, however, steer away from that raw-blues style."Jersey Girl" is an acoustic piece that is an atypical Tom Waits love song. The surprise is that it is a love song by Tom Waits without sarcasm, pining or regret, yet it sounds very much like Tom Waits. And while not a sad song, it is still quite the tearjerker. Perhaps this is because of Waits' gutteral character singing all-out vulnerable worship for the blue-collar Jersey Girl he has fallen in love with. One of the greatest love songs ever written."On The Nickel" contains probably the most devastating and beautiful lyrics I have ever heard. "The Nickel" refers to a section of Fifth Street in Downtown Los Angeles that was gathering place for the homeless and down-&-out folks during the depression era. The song is the title score for the 1980 film by Ralph Waite. The music rings like a childrens' lullaby, with the words harking to the days when these now hapless "Nickel" characters were just little boys running amok and making mischief. This is one of those songs that is both heartbreaking and beautiful, and I have have a hard time picturing it having the full effect if covered by somebody other than Waits.This whole album is great all around. While "Jersey Girl" and "On The Nickel" are so great they could easily eclipse the rest of the album, there is nothing lame here at all. The title track is direct & raw, and "Saving All My Love For You" stands out among the rest. Give this CD a shot, you will not regret the purchase!"
Haunting, gritty, and ironic
DanD | 01/01/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"HEARTATTACK AND VINE offers a preview of the Waits to come: the CLOSING TIME and BLUE VALENTINE Waits evolving into the SWORDFISHTROMBONES and RAIN DOGS Waits. It features the gritty, life on the street characters of his previous work (especially the elloquent "On the Nickel"), but starts to do so in a different fashion. The title track and "Mr. Siegal" are bluesy romps (the former declaring that "There ain't no Devil, there's just God when He's drunk"). "Jersey Girl" borders on pop balladry, while "Ruby's Arms" is simply a melodic stunner.
The Devil's in the details, though, and that's where HEARTATTACK truly shines. Listen, why don't you, to the "sha la la" chorus of "Jersey Girl." The passionate urgency Waits puts into his vocals borders on parody, yet rings with the angst of a man yearning for the woman he loves, the one bright point in an otherwise bleary day. The way he growls out the title track, and the tender way he croons the line "I'll prolly be arrested when I'm in my grave, but I'll be saving all my love for you", showcase his emerging talent for delivering lines with ironical perfection. HEARTATTACK is a transitional record, but it is definitely one worth owning. One of his best, actually."
A Classic in every sense of the word-one of THE best.
Nighthawk 69 | Downtown | 12/17/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Do it. Buy it! The only thing you'll regret is that you didn't do it before. This is not just one of HIS bests, it's one of THE bests-ever-in whatever genre you want to put Waits' music into. He goes from pulling tears out of you to making you tap your feet and snap your fingers to the most outrageous Waitsonian visions you have ever heard: "...When the b____ is wound up, And her parents are gone, Man you ought to hear her with the siren on." And the details!!! In Saving All My Love For You, he writes, "I spent $15.00 on a prostitute, With too much make-up and a broken shoe..." Even at his most tender, writing the sweetest lullabye, "On The Nickle," he throws in bits about being in jail and poker games. This is a MUST HAVE. Do it. I have to admit, I'm pretty new to Wait's music, I loved Closing Time and Nighthawks, but this one...this is beyond description! I have to agree with another reviewer, this is maybe the best album ever made."
Five beautiful ballads
Pieter | Johannesburg | 12/04/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This was the place I discovered the magic of Tom Waits. I appreciate his flowing ballads more than his talking blues style, and this album has plenty of both. Saving All My Love For You is a magnificent example of the former, and so is Jersey Girl, later covered by Bruce Springsteen. The words are sheer poetry. On The Nickel is another gem, with intricate arrangement and beautiful instrumentation, while Mr Siegel is a raucous mixture of both styles, and a brilliant achievement at that. This excellent album concludes with Ruby's Arms, a tender, moving ballad."
A high point in a great career
Pieter | 01/01/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Waits is the greatest writer of ballads in America, maybe the world, and this album showcases four of his best. "On The Nickel" and "Jersey Girl" are both stunning and alone they are worth the price of purchase. But there is not a weak song in the lot. Really gritty blues and r&b on tracks 1, 2, 4, 6, and 8 interchanged with his ballads on 3, 5, 7, and 9. It's the culmination of his work of the seventies, before he started getting truly weird and experimental."