on 28 October 2004
Even as a long time Waits fan, it took me a couple of listens to get into this album... but then the one thing you could never accuse him of is writing by numbers or simply to please his fans. The most obvious shift in style compared to Mule / Blood Money / Alice is the absence of piano from the album and the addition of son Casey's turntables and the use of looped samples of Waits hollering and growling in his bathroom as backing for some tracks. More familiar is the return of Marc Ribot's catchy guitar riffs that were common place on the mid 80's trilogy of Swordfishtrombones, Rain Dogs and Frank's Wild Years.
As with almost all of Waits' albums, this is superbly put together in terms of the sequence of tracks... perhaps the only one I'm not completely sold on is the opening track "Top of the hill", from there onwards it's all pretty superb. Highlights include the savagely catchy and lyrically sharp "Hoist that rag", the 11 minutes of "Sins of the Father" and the timelessly poignant closing piece "Day after tomorrow". I also really like the manic style of "Shake it" and "Don't go into that barn"... the blues guitar based "Make it Rain".... and the ironic shmaltzy style of "Dead and Lovely" and "Trampled Rose".
On the whole this album easily lives up to Waits' reputation for producing innovative and challenging music... his best work since Bone Machine by some distance!
on 7 October 2004
Alright, so it hasn't been THAT long, but it feels like it - I just wanted to use that shockingly bad pun. Anyway:
Few and far between were the rumours of just what direction Tom Waits would go with his next record, climaxing in the month before Real Gone's release in an explosion of strange, mind-bending and ultimately confusing reviews. So just what the hell did this thing sound like? As one reviewer put it, the opening track to some will simply be "impenetrable". It's an interesting hybrid of god-knows how many different styles, but it loops and swirls in such a way that it's hard to pin down and actually enjoy listening to. Don't let this put you off if it's too far gone though, it does become more accessible. Hoist That Rag is a thankful reassurance that you won't have to like this album just because you feel this should and the 10:36 of Sins of My Father is a lengthy but worthy journey and definately one of my favourite tracks on the CD so far.
I won't go any further into listing the songs and their merits, but it is a mixure of all the styles you heard it was, it is new, at times strange but always Tom Waits. If you've been a fan of his previous work from Blue Valentine to Swordfishtrombones, from Rain Dogs to Heartattack and Vine, you will like this album. It will grow on you and you may even love it. Along with Mark Lanegan's Bubblegum, this is one of the best albums released in the last year. Perhaps not a good place for someone new to Tom Waits to start their collection though...
on 4 October 2004
I have been waiting (ha ha) for ages for a new album from the god of gothic blues and i am happy to say that this ranks up as one of his best.
For the first time in his 30 year career he has shunned the piano for more typical rock instruments, but has come up with something never heard before...
From that sexual Latin flavour that pours out of Hoist that rag, to the Primal blues of Make it rain, or the cubist funk of metropolitan glide Tom once again shows that he wont be shackled by the chains of conformity. how he keeps coming up with new ideas and sounds beggars belief, he even does a bit of human beatboxing!! also his son Casey is featured on the album playing drums and manning the turntables whilst 'Dad' mans the microphone. This is a must have for fans and newcomers alike...
There is only one problem, once you have it, you'll cry out for a new album straight away because once the surreal magic of Mr Waits has gripped you you can't shake it no matter how hard you try.
I cant wait for another album, and i wish he'd play live over here more often, but hey, a genius needs time off.
Now Tom, how about releasing 'Big Time' on DVD?
on 10 October 2004
Although Tom has delivered some brilliantly different albums in the past twenty odd years, I am off the opinion that every album improves the quality and texture of previous releases and Real Gone is no exception. The Real Gone album initially challenges, like all good albums, then grows, like all great albums, and builds likes those albums you always go back to.
From the jangling guitar and hip-hop beat on opening track Top of the Hill, to the garage sounding Hoist the Rag (with its political undertone) followed by ten minutes of Sins of the Father, which as they say in sporting terms is worth the price of the admission fee, this track is followed by Shake It with a dirty blues rythym and screeching guitar. When you consider this is only the first four tracks from 15 equally challenging and ultimatley brilliant tracks. I need say no more, just buy this album, if you want to be, at the same time, thrilled, provoked and wealthier for under a tenner.
on 9 October 2004
I was astounded to realise that I had been listening to Tom Wait's music for more than 20 years. Over the years he has meant a great deal to me. He's has made me laugh out loud whilst driving he's made me dance and he's made me (almost) cry. All of his albums are worth repeated spins and he is incapable of making a poor record. The man is a true artist and a poet.
The highpoint of his "career" is generally thought to be the swordfishtrombones and Raindogs albums. Rain dogs is/was my personal favourite but this tour de force is at least as good as these.
His music has developed over the years into a style all of his own and there are the usual extraordinary and compelling characters within his songs here.
THIS ALBUM IS POLITICAL AND ANTI-WAR. If I ever had an issue with his material before I would have said it largely took place in a social vacuum, unaffected by the world. It's obvious here however that he feels deeply anguished about the invasion of iraq and the current political state of America. For Real Gone He has penned some of the best anti-war songs since Dylan of the early 60s.
INSTRUMENTALLY Tom has explored some new teritory here, using different instrumentalisation and rythyms including body beat box and using his own voice as an instrument in the back ground (and he's finally dropped the paino ballads). The people playing on this album have largely worked with him for 20 years and you get the feeling that not only is there a great relationship but they would do it for nothing.
This group of songs is his best yet and get under your skin after just one listening.
I would recommend this to anyone who wants to know what the best musician/artist in the world is capable of, it is the perfect antidote to the mainstream world of glossy over produced non-art that we are told to believe is music BUY BUY BUY
on 17 October 2004
3 albums in two years counts as a deluge from Tom Waits, and we should all be grateful that an artist as remarkable as this has again found his muse. Real Gone is as good as anything Waits has ever released, which is high praise indeed. The deep elemental rhythm of Rain Dogs and the poetic beatnik of Small Change are intact and sounding as fresh as ever. There is more experimentation with sound here than usual, but none seems superfluous - the Waits feel for deep blues and Latin rhythm, the preacher delivery and the atonal guitar accompaniment (provided by guitarist Marc Ribot) make this a wonderful suite of music - the 10 minutes of Sins of My Father seeming still too short, the blues of Make It Rain as timeless as the mountains. Waits' voice and the challenging content stop this being for everyone, but for those who have acquired the taste, Real Gone is a storming addition to the canon.
on 4 October 2004
Yes, it's here, the latest stage of TW's wayward genius. The biggest shock is probably the complete absence of piano. No piano ballads. Which is surely a brave move, and one likely to cause some consternation among long term fans. The absence is definitely felt; the only truly poignant song here is the closer, Day After Tomorrow, an anti-war folk song that pulls at all the right heartstrings. Alot of the album is taken up with what TW calls 'cubist funk', though I still haven't worked out what he's on about with that name. It basically consists of all manner of vocal grunts and gasps and clattering percussion (played by Brain and his son Casey). With Tom doing a kind of James Brown type turn over the top. The best examples are the irrestible (and entirely silly) opener, Top of the Hill, the freakish dance number Metropolitan Glide (by that I mean, only freaks will dance to it) which barely holds together at all, and Baby Gonna Leave Me with its throwaway 'na na na na's' which are vaguely amusing. One of the main highlights of the collection is Don't Go Into The Barn, which is awash with black humour so sharp it will cut your wrists. The yes sir/no sir exchange is one of the highlights of the Waits musical cannon, to put alongside 'Everybody row, Everybody row' from Misery's The River Of The World. 'Sins of the Father' isn't one of the hightlights, in my book. It's a wearisome blues number along the lines of Get Behind The Mules, only it's four minutes longer than that one, clocking in at ten and a half minutes, the longest Waits song on record, eclipsing even Potter's Field. Shake It is a funky little scamp, and the chorus will make you smile, but the lyric is very half-baked; and the mentioning of Mike Tyson seems dubious for two reasons: his appalling behaviour in life, and the fact that he's been a fighting has-been for some time now. Dead Lovely is one of Tom's old-fashioned numbers, musically speaking, a descendant of the Tin Palley era, though the lyric is a hardboiled account of a gangster moll's death. Circus is a typical spoken word piece, featuring Tom's long (and perhaps now tiresome) fascination with circus freaks. Once more here he gets a chance to come up with esoteric names for his characters . . . Funeral Wells the knifethrower and his female assistant/victim Poodle Murphy (he slices part of her ear off at one performance, the poor girl). Trampled Rose has a tune that could prove a bit irritating after a while, but it's a good lyric. Green Grass is a powerful ode from beyond the grave. Make It Rain is a soul/gospel number - no doubt some fossilised soul singer will do a decent cover version of it. Along with the final song, it's the most accessible and conventional piece on the album. Overall, I'd say it was an invigorating endeavour, even if he makes a few mistakes in judgement along the way. It's better than Mule Variations, because it's less controlled and tame, it probably edges Blood Money due to its greater wealth of ideas. It shares things in common with Bone Machine, I guess. Bone Machine ain't a favourite with me, though it is with many fans. But I reckon fans of Bone Machine will go for this one. Those who enjoyed Mule Variations may find this a bit too much to handle. At times there are too many repetitions of previous great acts, but when you hear Top of the Hill and Don't Go Into The Barn and Hoist The Rag, you know that the maestro is still on devilish form, and can't be beat.
on 20 October 2004
This is the record that Tom Waits has been threating to make since 1992's 'Bone Machine'. Any recognisable boundaries have been blown away by many of the songs here. He's ditched the piano and brought in 'mouth percussion' - frequently up close and distorted. The turntables used on previous outings are back and I may be wrong, but I'm pretty sure he's sampling himself singing/roaring/spluttering. 'Real Gone' will probably take a lot out of you, it's by no means a comfortable listen, but the pounding 'Hoist That Rag' and the bluesy, atmospheric 'Dead and Lovely' are two of the many songs that make this an essential purchase. What's not to like about a record made by a 55 year old man in his house that can scare your kids into going to bed early?
on 14 August 2007
I must have had this album for going on three years and only now is it really beginning to have an effect on me. On the first few listens it was a real slog and almost unappealing. It certainly didn't stand up well in comparision to Mule Variations. However, time has been kind to this album and I now rank it up there with Rain Dogs as Tom's crowning achievement.
The thing I like most about it.....is that it's a great album to dance to. Tracks like 'Shake It', 'Hoist that Rag', 'Metropoliton Glide' and 'Don't go into that barn' are so good for stomping around to. Me and my two year old son call in Monster dancing, which comprises croching down with legs spread, maracas (or spoons..or anything) to shake, and the facial expression of a pitbull sucking a wasp. Seeing a two year old dance to Tom Waits is gleeful, although I'm not sure what his Grandad thinks about it all!!
However, there is nice contrast in the shape of 'Sins' and 'Day after tomorrow' which both have a more epic and sweeping feel to them. I certainly feel that the latter is as good as anything Wait's has produced in his career to date.
So, in conclusion, if you have picked this one up and decided its not for you...I urge you to give it a few more spins and let it works it freakesh magic on your bones.
on 17 October 2004
Well, not much to say, other than this follows on from Bone Machine and Mule Variations (after the side steps of Alice and Blood Money). Occasionally moving further from songs, and showcasing an ability to produce experimental music that should have the majority of fashionable DJs quitting in shame when he does, Mr Waits also continues to write fractured love songs and blood pumping, full throated rock numbers. You do need to be prepared to listen more than once, though; as with previous albums, much of what is here requires a certain amount of commitment on the part of the listener. If you are prepared to invest that, you will be rewarded with an album you can listen to over and over again, rather than one that quickly becomes predictable. Each delving has so far produced further surprises, and not once has it been boring. Just a shame there was only the one concert to promote it, sold out within 30 minutes.