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4.8 out of 5 stars12
4.8 out of 5 stars
Format: Audio CD|Change
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on 28 February 2002
For those who are familiar with Tom's earlier work, this may come as a bit of a shock. There are no simple, bitter-sweet love songs or jazzy, urban poems. This is the soundtrack to a grim tale of tragedy in love, resulting from dealings with the devil. The gravil-filled chasms of Waits' voice scratch their way over the sound of some of the most obscure instruments one could dig up in Europe. It is clear that Wait's does not want his listeners to have an easy time with this but once the initial bout of nervous laughter is overcome, the effect is a dirty catharsis that must be experienced by everyone. Despite being an all-round fan of his work, this is my favourite piece, probably because its unabashed experimentation into industrio-agricultural, devil music is totally unique. It must be noted, however, that some of my closest friends would rather chew broken glass than be in the same room as this album - so be warned, not for the faint hearted!
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on 15 July 2007
Theatrical, Vaudeville tinged lp, originally for the musical of the same name. One of Wait's less orthodox recordings, featuring a fair few instrumental pieces and `fills', often of an experimental nature. He mostly performs characters here and the lyrics have to be seen in that light but the characters are evocative and do come through. William Bourroughs contributes to a fair few of the lyrics here and his touch is evident. Hit and miss, largely because of its contextual nature, most of the songs hanging on the same themes and motifs. Underrated but not an obvious place to start a collection.
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on 28 July 2006
Listen to the Black Rider with the lights down and a stiff drink in your hand, you're going to need it. A dark, carnivalesque cacophony of whirling, crunching, disturbing, mind bending musical numbers, some of which even I, a devoted fan, have difficulty in listening to. But I listen anyway.

Tom Waits is a genius.
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on 12 January 2000
Fantastic album. One good reason to buy it? William Burroughs singing disjointed out of time about the pleasures of taking off your skin and dancin' round in your bones. 'Nuff said.
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on 6 February 2000
An album that catches your attention right from the very start. This is the kind of music that picks you up, ruffs your hair, & spins you around the room in time to a bone-crunching waltz. A classic, which is made all the classier by the hovering presence of that old master (and all-time hero of mine), William Burroughs...
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on 12 October 2011
this is a very intense album, with a lot expected of the listener. after one listen, you will possibly wonder why you bought it, or why anyone would listen to it. there are songs like "the right bullets" which grab from the off, but most are so surreal and strange that it takes several listens before you can begin to relax into it. too uneven to be considered among his very best work, it's far more interesting than both "bone machine", which came before it, and "mule variations" which came after and were far more successful. this one has waits as the devil, and there's nothing wrong with that.
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on 2 February 2011
Start to finish this album half entices half drags you into its dingy carnivale world. It struts and creeps a postmodern tightrope between fairy tale and gritty realism.
Tom Waits powerful talent for building so rich a sound stage that you feel like a motion picture was smuggled in through your ears is magnificently evinced here.
So, Ladies and Gentlemen, Roll up! Roll up! Welcome to the show and what a show!
Don't vacilate, don't procrastinate! Reject rumination, belay delay! Plunge in, take the dive; just a penny to find out what's inside...
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on 6 December 2014
Like all Tom Waits albums, this one is excellent. If you like the "dark" side of Tom Waits, then this one is for you. It has all the theatrical, freakshow stuff but also has beautifully crafted songs sung with passion.
Overall it is the kind of CD you have to listen to all the way through and think about the content and enjoy. It wouldn't make ideal background music at a party but the party it was being played at would be one not to miss.
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on 31 August 2013
Had the black rider on a best of album and loved it so I thought
id give this one ago, people say what on earth is that
your listening to( its ----), but give it a few spins
and it grows like ivy on you, only thing you need to play it on
your own, fantastic songs
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on 20 January 2015
Wierd record. Just love it.
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