while waits travelled through several different areas as he progressed his career, from barbum, to beat poet, to blues, all before the end of the 70s, this album is almost a one-off phase. it's as if he were let loose in his own cinema. there's noir, there's b movies, there's all sorts of things, but you really get the feeling waits can visualise everything in front of him and is hoping he's put enough out there for you to see it too. intensely ambitious (check out the mammoth and awe-inspiring potter's field), this isn't an easy album to get into. i don't hold it among my favourites, but there's no doubting waits determination to make art, and not just churn out albums with some standard blues or jazz riffs on it. and that's to be admired, even if he'd achieve it more successfully in later albums.