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16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A man could wait a long time
I have given up seeing Tom appear on stage in these parts but this will do for now. As ever, it has everything that one could expect - from the growling jazz to the type of song ("Hold On") which Bruce would have gobbled up in his heyday. Speaking of which, I doubt if Tom has had aheyday and, for me, that's a good thing. In his recent "2 Lectures"...
Published on 24 April 2000

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2 of 6 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars waits going through the motions
well nobody's going to agree with this review, but i'll post it anyway. this isn't a patch on the waits of 15 years earlier. this sounds like waits going through the motions, most songs are similar to songs that he did earlier. "big in japan", the opener, is probably the high point of this album. people talk about "hold on" as being a classic, but i find it dreary and...
Published on 12 Oct 2011 by Biffer Spice


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16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A man could wait a long time, 24 April 2000
By A Customer
This review is from: Mule Variations (Audio CD)
I have given up seeing Tom appear on stage in these parts but this will do for now. As ever, it has everything that one could expect - from the growling jazz to the type of song ("Hold On") which Bruce would have gobbled up in his heyday. Speaking of which, I doubt if Tom has had aheyday and, for me, that's a good thing. In his recent "2 Lectures" cd, Nick Cave called on Tom Waits when discussing the secret life of the love song and this is only right. Tom Waits is one of the great chroniclers of love - a particularly American kind of love at once urban and small town. There is something of the James Ellroy about Tom Waits - loose but still there. Finally, a word for the delicate and most wonderful, "Georgia Lee". This is Tom Waits at his most beautiful. A living genius when most geniuses are long gone.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Tom Waits' Best Work, 14 Nov 1999
By A Customer
This review is from: Mule Variations (Audio CD)
I've got most of Tom Waits' albums from Closing Time to Mule Variations and I have to say this is probably his best yet. Every one of his albums has its classics but MV outdoes itself. Its worth the price just for 'Picture in a Frame' which is one the simplest and most impressive songs he's done. MV is also an incredibly varied album and shows off how well Tom can switch between radically different styles and make them all fit together. If you're new to Tom Waits, this is definitely the place to start.
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Mr Waits; A Bonzai Aphrodite and Other Stories ( nevertoolate #004 ), 10 April 2008
By 
The Wolf (uk) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (TOP 100 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Mule Variations (Audio CD)
35 years at the top of his game.

Between 1973's 'Closing Time' and the triple-whammy of 'Orphans' in 2006
Mr Waits has been resonsible for a whole lot of damned fine music
winging its' way out into this cracked and weary world of ours.

Every Waits fan will have their own favorite album.
Today mine is 'Mule Variations' (this time next year maybe it'll
be 'Small Change' again, or maybe 'Alice', or maybe....).

Released in 1999 on the Anti label this collection of sixteen
pieces seems to me to bring together everything that makes this
great maverick truly unique.
Parched, blistering rock and roll; drunken bar-room blues;
gentle heart-wringing ballads; deeply unsettling monologues.

....and stories! Always with the stories !

Painting small worlds alive with words and music has always
been his greatest gift.
Circus sideshow eccentrics; marginal paranoid loners and drifters and losers and lovers
line up to share their hopes and fears and longings.

....and stomping ! Always with the stomping !

All manner of things get thumped and slapped and crunched
( even drums sometimes ) to create the kind of rhythmic
mayhem and density of raw emotional sound which only this master
could muster. Guitarist Marc Ribot's solo on 'Cold Water' must
have stripped the paint off the ceiling.

....and suddenly it all falls away and there in the corner is
a man with a crooked hat and a broken down piano singing
a bruised and tender love song ( 'Take It With Me' ) of such hushed
intimacy that one can barely breathe until it's over.

This man and his many worlds are indivisible and precious.
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars a must have album, 4 Oct 2000
By A Customer
' Mule Variations' is one those very rare, special albums that everybody should own. From the intro to Big in Japan the album takes you through a roller coaster of emotions and music all in unmistakeable, rough , gravelly Tom Waits style . Stand out cuts are difficult to pick as every song is superbly crafted and written 'Hold On' winner of a Grammy for best Rock vocal is a song that Springsteen would have wanted to write and features some of the best lyrics Tom Waits has written 'Chocolate Jesus' ' Take It With Me ' etc etc . Each song is a classic . The album isn't always immediate and every time it is played you always hear something different ....
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant and Bluesy, 11 Feb 2005
This review is from: Mule Variations (Audio CD)
This is a great album form the start. I think this is a bit of a new style for Tom but he really gets into it. There are raw delta blues offerings("Cold water", "low Side of the road") beautiful hyme style ballads("C'mon up to the house", "Georgia Lee") a cinematic narration("What's he building")and "Box-spring hog" sounds like a Captain Beefheart. Don't expect "Swordfish" or "Raindogs" and I think you'll be impressed! I really like this style and hope Tom creates another in this mode.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The greatest living American?, 15 Dec 1999
By 
M. Sommers (Athens Greece) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Mule Variations (Audio CD)
Critics of the U.S.A. overlook one significant fact about the place, viz., no other country in the world could have given us Tom Waits, which is sufficient reason to forgive a mountain of sins in my book! If Waits was ever going to make a bad record, he would surely have done so by now! This is business as usual in terms of the range of material (from sentimental ballads such as "Picture in a Frame" to stuff that makes your ears bleed like "Filipino Box Spring Hog") but he has never done it better, and it is decidedly more focused than his last three albums. As usual, his fondness for odd instrumentation is strongly evident, the home made, Harry Partch style percussion enhanced this time by computer programing and even a DJ(!). Marc Ribot's guitar playing would be sufficient reason in itself for buying this record, and Charlie Musselwhite's harmonica work is also notable. Waits also stretches his voice even further than usual on some tracks, particularly on the percussion driven "Eyeball Kid", where he is occasionally reminiscent of Pere Ubu's David Thomas. Again, there is a song that Bruce Springsteen would have liked to have written ("Hold On"), and plenty of dark humour, especially the spoken track "What's he Building?". Waits just goes from strength to strength. If the Americans really new what they were about, this man would be the front runner candidate for the upcoming presidentual elections!
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11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Waits in all his styles!, 26 Dec 2003
By 
Pieter Uys "Toypom" (Johannesburg) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)    (HALL OF FAME REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Mule Variations (Audio CD)
This great album opens with Big In Japan, a humorous number in bluesy style with brilliant guitar and innovative arrangement, which is followed by the slow, eerie Lowside Of The Road, a real hangover song with striking imagery.
Hold On is a typical sad Waits ballad, which means it’s beautiful, tuneful and moving. It has an unusually light rhythm and melody though, unlike some of his other masterpiece ballads like for example In The Neighbourhood or Saving All My Love For You. House Where Nobody Lives is unique too, another gripping ballad with moving words and images. It makes me think of both Mansion On The Hill by Springsteen and the old classic Satisfied Mind.
All Waits’ styles are in glorious display including the talking blues of Get Behind The Mule and the deep bluesrock of ballads like Come On Up To The House and Cold Water. For someone who prefers his ballads and his singing voice, I find both quite appealing. The next track, Pony, is another one of my favorite slow melodic numbers embellished with exquisite pump organ, dobro and harp.
This album certainly lives up to its name with its astonishing variety, like the spooky spoken track What’s He Building and the story songs Black Market Baby and Eyeball Kid with its innovative samples and percussion. Waits even explores his Beefheartian side on Filipino Box Spring Hog. There’s also the gentle love song Picture In A Frame with its elegant piano and the sorrowful country song Georgia Lee.
Mule Variations is a masterpiece of an album that contains impressive, timeless songs of great lyrical depth, melodic beauty and stylistic variety. Whether you like Waits as a phenomenon by himself or whether you like only certain of his styles, this album will not disappoint as it offers enough brilliance for everybody.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Go Charlie, 3 Aug 2011
This review is from: Mule Variations (Audio CD)
Picture in a Frame is simply one of the most beautiful songs ever put down. Damn, this is good stuff. I saw Waits on the Whistle Test years ago doin' some Waltzing Matilda thing and thought noooo, not for me. Didn't bother to listen again. Only took a look at this because Charlie Musselwhite plays on it and he plays God's very own harp. To my certain surprise I found myself in the grip of something awesome, not least, perhaps, because it was unexpected. This is all awkward and angular blues. Waits delivers his tales, dark and laconic, like the narrator of an Amercican dime detective novel. You picture a trilby pulled down over one eye and a cigarette planted affectedly between the lips. Waits opens windows and you want to climb though and take a look at what crime has been committed, though you suspect you may not be comfortable with what you find. Get Behind the Mule and Big In Japan rock bigtime. Needless to say I may have some catching up to do with the rest of Waits' catalogue. Or maybe something this good is a one-off. Charlie is impeccable.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Best of Tom Waits by far, 27 Aug 2010
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This review is from: Mule Variations (Audio CD)
This album has been reviewed from all angles and I can only agree with all the five stars given to Mule Variations. If you love his ballads more than his various other styles this one is for you. Can there be a more beautiful song than Hold On? This is as good as Mr Waits can get. Highly recommended.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful, just wonderful, 24 Dec 2008
By 
T. Bleazard (UK) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Mule Variations (Audio CD)
On balance I think his best ever. A bit of soulful beauty and a bit of Tom's madness.

"Come down from your cross, we could use the wood."
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