Blues From An Alternate Universe
Seybold | Seattle | 05/15/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)
"If you want to check out Tom Waits, and you're looking for a representative first album to listen to.....look elsewhere, unless you have a taste for the edgy and offbeat. In that case, look here.
I've often heard Tom Waits music before, and it sounded OK, but I never felt inspired to check out his music much. Then I heard this album in a coffee shop, and it blew me away.
What is it with Tom Waits? Instead of mellowing, he seems to get weirder as he gets older. This album has clear echoes of experimental music. There is very little drumming per se, or at least use of drums. Mostly the credits list "percussion," which often consists of unidentified objects being struck rhythmically. In that sense it's reminiscent at times of early Sonic Youth, with the percussion instruments sounding like sheet metal or wood cabinets--the difference is that here they are played with an excellent sense of rhythm. Other squawky moments remind me of Sun Ra. The production is sometimes blurry, clearly by design.
All this is done within a pretty normal song structure, so while it's experimental, it's also familiar. The combination works beautifully, with Waits growling along, nearly incomprehensible throughout (don't worry, the liner notes include lyrics).
Lots of people have tried to make records like this in the last 20 years or so, and most of them are awful. This one is brilliant, and that's down to the quality of the musician.
NOISE! ...WONDERFUL NOISE!!!
wally gator | USA | 01/12/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This is a real treat among Tom Waits albums. Directed primarily towards the loud and frenzic style of Tom Waits, with maybe one or two tender moments for good measure. This is the one to crank up insanely loud to get the demons out of your brain... and the one that I jumped out of my seat for upon it's release a few years back.
I saw then a lot of pan for this album amongst Waits fans, but I think the album is as good as any other classic Waits. The songs no doubtedly get a lot more coarse and raw as the years go by. This may not be 100% intentional. But TW always finds away to make 'em work, and I feel some of the most gravelly sounding tunes are some of the best... and what time was better to make the one that us kids were waiting for. Bang your head music, up and down a wall, with a sh*@ eating grin on your face from ear to ear. TOP OF THE HILL or HOIST THAT RAG make good examples just because they come first, but every song works toward it's goal. Delivering what is sometimes just insanity, but always coupled with a good hook and catchy melodies. A few in the mix help the style vary, with some common Tom Waits imagery, in songs such as the darkly beautiful DEAD AND LOVELY. And there are plenty of good old fashioned rhythym section shake downs and such to go around too. This stuff just sparks some excitement into the duller darker days of life. A must have... Tom Waits is the shizzzzzit!"
Conjuring up spirits?
Robert Boland | Augusta, Georgia | 08/30/2008
(3 out of 5 stars)
"Real Gone is definitely a layered, challenging listen.
In many songs Tom's voice was mixed a little too low for my tastes.
Tom is all about the songwriting...so not hearing the words defeats the purpose!
My favorite tune is "Make it Rain" - a straight ahead blues, with vocals clear and strong. "Don't Go into that Barn" sounds like Tom is taken over by the spirit of Howling Wolf. Another strong cut is the Latin tinged "Hoist That Rag."
The North Mississippi hypnotic style grooves ( R.L. Burnside) seem to be a strong influence (or maybe coincidence) in my opinion.
If you're a Tom fan, this is a "must own.""