Kevin G. (kkg-ct) from NEW FAIRFIELD, CT Reviewed on 4/14/2015...
A collection that has a visceral connection to the nastiest Time Square urban memories. I worked in mid Town Manhattan and saw these songs in the Taxi Driver eyes and nasty dive dump bars. If you ever want to feel that closing time reeking of stale smoke what was I thinking my momma warned me about this thang.....BE There. I knew I was different when I put this on for friends and got bewildered looks and pleasantries. Still a champ and favorite TW, and i might head south until this thing blows over.....
Heather C. from ENCINITAS, CA Reviewed on 7/14/2006...
"Step Right Up" worth the CD. Less than enthused about the rest of the tracks, but some people really love Waits' voice.
One of Waits' Most Haunting Tunes is Here..................
K. Brown | Walnut, Ca USA | 10/06/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"First off, I think this entire album is excellent, from the tormented "Tom Traubert's Blues" to the hysterical "The Piano Has Been Drinking" to the mellow "Jitterbug Boy." But even if abovementioned tunes did nothing for me, it would be made with the title track.
"Small Change" is one of the most chilling tunes I have ever heard. The combination of Waits' raspy voice, the instrumentals being a lone saxophone, and the bleak lyrics describing the crime scene and the gunned down gambler are more haunting than any ghost story you were told as a child. This is Tom Waits at his poetic best.
The bonus is that while this song steals the show, there is plenty to enjoy on the rest of the cd. The mood of the album gravitates toward the down & out pool hallers, hucksters, and all-around tormented souls. From heavy to humorous, this release has it all.
"Pasties and a G-String" is a hysterical salute to the old burlesque haunts, and the dancers and droolers that inhabit them. Like "Small Change," the focus is on one instrument, the drums, albeit in an entirely upbeat manner.
Other standout pieces are "Jitterbug Boy," a rare calming piano piece, singing the Jitterbug Boy's unlikely claims of places he's been and people he's met; "The One that Got Away," another hard-boiled hard-luck song showcasing some wicked saxophone, and "Invitation to the Blues."
This is easily one of Tom Waits' greatest efforts, though you can't go wrong with any of his earliest albums. Like I said, everything here is excellent, but "Small Change" alone is worth the money.
Sinfully pretty and blue
Brian pinsker | Seattle, WA United States | 04/29/1998
(5 out of 5 stars)
"OHMIGOD this c.d. is choice. I am listening to it right now. There is a sensual beauty in the music but the real brilliance comes out in the lyrics. "You ask me what I'm doin' here, hold this old lamppost, flippin' this old quarter, tryin' to make up my mind... If it's heads I'll go to Tennessee, if it's tails I'll buy a drink, if it lands on the edge I'll keep talkin'... to... you..."
Waits' nostalgia and grinning, drunken comraderie come in his devastating growl and the pure poetry of his language. Gloomy yet headshakingly happy. "The Piano Has Been Drinking" is one of the best songs I have ever heard- "the carpet needs a haircut and the spotlight looks like a prison-break and the telephone's out of cigarettes and the balcony is on the make..." This album can actually change the atmosphere in the room- it is enlightening and intimate. There is nothing self-indulgent about it- it is about real life- waitresses and dead-end jobs, late-night liquor and broken down cars on bad streets. This is the blues, done with lots of hope and heart. I fell in love with this music instantly."
Takes me to another place
Rollie Anderson | Forney, Texas United States | 03/08/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"On this album Tom takes the listener to the same place "Notes from the Underground" takes the reader. It's a real world that daylight doesn't penetrate and heartbroken loners like Mr. Waits portrays wander the darkened streets alone. Anyone with a broken heart can relate to "Tom Taubert's Blues" and enjoy the fact that misery loves company and the singer is sharing a bench with you. In other words, this ain't no party cd. This is for listening and learning about another way of life."
Another class work by one of The All-Time Greats
Bud Kinch | Lovers Lane, Tipperary | 08/28/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Sometimes Tom Wait's 70's stuff sounds something like if you read Jack Kerouac over Kind Of Blue-era Miles Davis. If that's not enough to tempt you, he also has ballads that are musically rich, lyrically depthful and heartbreakingly beautiful all at once. Small Change is probably the most all-round example of this. If you want extremes, buy Nighthawks At The Diner for the former and Blue Valentine for the latter. Lot's of these tunes are already the stuff of legend - Tom Traubert's Blues, the title track, I Can't Wait To Get Off Work - but a lot of the gems on this you probably haven't heard of. I Wish I Was In New Orleans is perfection, no other word for it. Some may call this music too maudlin, too schmaltz - including Waits himself - but if you ignore the cynic inside of you, what you'll find is something that's not like any other record out there. There is no such thing as a bad Tom Waits record, and I'm not usually one to make such fanatic claims. Nowadays he's doing this great, mysterious, musically challenging and innovative thing. In the 80's he was mutating his 70's work into something very unique and magic indeed. In the 70's he was making music that made his world yours, completely sensational. Every song on Small Change is like a novel, every note is like gold. Listen to Invitation To The Blues, Bad Liver & A Broken Heart, Step Right Up - from ballads to beat, this guy is a heavyweight. Always has been, always will be."