43 of 43 people found the following review helpful
on 10 May 2003
People argue whether Tom Waits was at his best during the 1970's, with the softer and more melodic jazz and blues songs, or during the 1980's, with the rougher and more experimental songs. Personally I am really fond of his early music, and this album from 1973 is a real treasure. It has a high consistent quality throughout and includes some of Waits best songs. "I hope that I don't fall in love with you" is a masterpiece and worth the album alone. "Ol' '55", "Old Shoes", "Martha" are other excellent tracks, but I doubt you'll be disappointed by any song. I really recommend this album. If you like it you will probably like "The Heart of Saturday Night" from 1974 as well.
18 of 18 people found the following review helpful
on 5 January 2006
Closing Time is not as dark or quirky as some of the later Tom Waits albums and is an excellent introduction if you are unfamiliar with his music. This album is a beautiful blend of blues and jazz with a hint of country for good measure all delivered by Toms’ wonderful smoky, gravelly voice. Although a lot more mellow than later offerings such as Rain Dogs and Swordfish, that indefinable uniqueness that is Tom Waits is still visible.
Particularly outstanding are the tracks ‘Midnight Lullaby’, ‘Martha’ and ‘Grapefruit Moon’ although there isn’t a single track on this CD that isn’t good on this near perfect album. This is one to put on when the lights are low and you just want to kick off your shoes and relax.
26 of 27 people found the following review helpful
on 17 April 2006
This is Tom Waits' first album, he was 24 when he wrote it and I am at a loss to come up with many other artists (Dylan?) who have expressed themselves with such a mature voice at such a young age.
The album is beautiful from start to finish. It is melodic - full of haunting strings and piano chords. It is sentimental without being saccharine - perhaps it is the smokey bourbon voice which does it.
Standouts for me are Ol'55, Martha ("I remember quiet evenings trembling close to you" - swoon, swoon!) and Grapefruit Moon.
The outstanding thing which he achieves though is putting together a collective of songs which are so evocative. Whilst Waits has stood the test of time and experimentation this is something which has stayed with him throughout his career and can be seen as much on his most recent offering, 'Real Gone' as it can be on this.
This is the best place to start if you plan to get into Tom Waits as it is his first and probably his most accessible. It leads you quite neatly to 1974's 'The Heart of Saturday Night' where his ability as a storyteller becomes more accomplished.
Listen to the lyrics, listen to the music, listen to it again and again. Tom Waits is an absolute genius.
11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
on 5 January 2000
Tom Waitts - Old Gravel Voice :) I heard this album at a friends house one dark evening a good few years ago and was stunned by the emotion held in it's groove (yes it was on vinyl). It is simplicity itself but it can drag up feelings that you thought were gone for good, feelings of sadness and joy. It invokes memories of love lost, love found and love remembered. If you like your music moody and deep then this is for you.
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on 6 September 2007
I was gobsmacked to read one reviewer here saying they "can't see the attraction". This is one of my (and my wife's) most frequently played albums. This was our introduction to Tom Waits and though we have many other albums from across his varied repertoire, this is the one we enjoy most; some of the others impress, others interest, and others have their moments, but Closing Time will always be THE Waits album for me.
Hope this helps to introduce someone else to a huge talent.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
Like a lot of reviewers here I really dig this album. Tom is young and sweet sounding here, not yet the rasping fag and booze addled beat, nor yet the boho-carni-freak of more recent years.
I personally think his entire output from this recording to Swordfishtrombones is nigh on perfect, and, for someone like me, it's all essential soul-food listening. And each album is different, albeit there are threads that run through them all.
Waits' wife Kathleen Brennan apparently came up with the term 'grim reapers and grand weepers' to describe two of the many faces Waits has commonly chosen to show in later years, and, of the two, most of the material from the early albums leans towards the 'grand weepers' side of that pairing. And that's how I like it!
Produced by the maverick producer and musician Jerry Yester, who's more associated with the roots-folk and psychedelic tinged sounds of 60s hippie-dom, this is something of an oddball or unusual album within the Waits oeuvre. Given that, in many respects, he kept mining similar veins for some years to come, it's a little tricky to pin down exactly why that is. It's definitely something to do with the gentleness and soft innocence of his voice, especially in contrast to how that voice evolved, but it's also in the unique sonic chemistry that the album has, even though later recording will revisit similar genre-based sounds, ranging from jazz, blues and folk, to country, and tin pan alley songs.
For a debut album it's pretty stunning - loaded with gems like 'Ol 55', 'I Hope That I Don't Fall In Love With You', and 'Rosie', even the lesser tracks are still superb - and, albeit that they're very different characters, it reminds me of Joni Mitchell's debut, which, although ostensibly more of a fit with the times it was released in, is actually also very unique and personal. People pegged Joni as a folkster, and she saw herself as a composer. In a similar way, Tom is an artist, and that's why, even though he long ago turned off the road of straight ahead boho-romance - the aspect of his work I've always loved the most - he remains a compelling figure.
Some of my personal favourites on this recording include the piano driven maudlin of 'Midnight Lullaby', with the beautiful muted trumpet of either Tony Terran or Delbert Bennett (not sure who it is!), and the unholy trinity that ends the album, 'Little Trip To Heaven (On The Wings Of Your Love)' - the first of a long series of excellent tracks with long names using parentheses, that reaches it's apotheosis on the Small Change album, with tracks like 'Jitterbug Boy (Sharing a Curbstone with Chuck E. Weiss, Robert Marchese, Paul Body and The Mug and Artie)', and 'I Can't Wait to Get Off Work (And See My Baby on Montgomery Avenue)' - 'Grapefruit Moon', and 'Closing Time'.
The musicians, mostly associates of Yester, perform the material with a magical sympathy and affinity that belies the fact that the band was, in essence, a pick-up outfit. This said, drummer John Seiter and upright bassist Bill Plummer had been playing together for six months prior to the recording, possibly with Yester's band Rosebud, which had recently come to an end, but I'm not sure about this. But given how different the music they were playing elsewhere was, they rise to Waits muse with real verve and grace. And, interestingly, so does artist Cal Schenkel, better known for his work on Zappa's record covers. Here he turns in a picture perfect evocation of Waits as the last to leave, as it comes to closing time.
According to Jerry Yester, quoted by Barney Hoskyns in his excellent biography of Waits, Lowside of the Road, there was an awed silence at the end of a take of the instrumental track 'Closing Time', that gives the album its name: 'That was absolutely the most magical session I've ever been involved with,' Yester recalls, 'at the end of it no one spoke for what felt like five minutes, either in the booth or out in the room. No one budged. Nobody wanted that moment to end.' Yep, I know that feeling, I've had it often enough listening to many Waits records, not least of which is this.
If you're as big a Waits nut as I am, you might have some of his live bootlegs, and you might notice that, whilst numerous tracks from this album make the occasional appearance in his live repertoire, the achingly beautiful 'Closing Time' itself is a rarity. The only instance I know of being for the BBC in 1979. In a way the rarity of it makes it even more special. And I think that is perhaps a fitting epitaph to the recording itself.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
"Operator, number please,
it`s been so many years.
She`ll remember my old voice,
while I fight the tears"
Tom Waits, one of the most distinctive voices in contemporary music, was a lanky, louche young man of 23 when he made this, his debut. It`s filled with bluesy torch ballads, easy-going mid-tempo songs such as the impressive opener Ol` 55 (covered by Eagles, who knew a good song when they heard it) and swooning lovelorn numbers like the gorgeous Martha - home of the above quote - which had already been heard in Waits` friend Tim Buckley`s lush, quite different version. There`s also the jazzy Ice Cream Man, which looks forward to his more raucous efforts on later records.
I Hope That I Don`t Fall In Love With You is a standout song, lyrically superb, telling a story, as Waits could and still does so well. The `twist` in the last line is delightful.
One or two tracks don`t seem to quite come off, such as Rosie and the aforementioned Ice Cream Man. It might be the hesitant production, or simply TW finding his feet, trying out ideas.
Little Trip To Heaven is one of the highlights, with its languid vocal and sax accompaniment, and could have come from almost any of his first half-dozen albums. He sounds like the Tom Waits we know & love.
Grapefruit Moon is simply lovely, musically & lyrically.
Closing Time, an instrumental, closes a generally fine first album in classy style.
It would be foolish to suggest this is Tom at his best, but he didn`t have that far to go to reach his best, and began to show just what he was really capable of on the near-perfect follow-up, Heart Of Saturday Night.
If you like Tom Waits - and I love the guy - then you`ll want this modest first album. Like every single one of his releases it has a perfectly apt cover, in this case a tousle-haired, goateed Tom leaning against his piano shrouded in the dark of a club or - more likely - a bar.
Here`s a man who started as he meant to go on.
"...and I think that I just fell in love with you"
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on 29 January 2002
This is probably Tom Waits' most accessible album, and in my opinion, the best. Although many of his more devoted fans prefer the darker, more gravelly side of Waits on his later albums, many newcomers to Waits will love this.
Songs oozing with class. Great to sit down and chill out to. A must-have for any record collection.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 14 July 2010
For anyone who start with Waits' post 1980 material, working themselves backward, this album might shock them. No gravely vocals, weird arrangements or crazy imagery. "Closing Time" is an album filled with bittersweet piano ballads and beautiful melodies. Tom Waits hasn't developed his trademark growlin' and grumblin' singing, and probably isn't as drunk as he would be later in the 70s.
Each and every song here as some hooks, and are delightful to listen to. The Eagles covered the album opener "Ol' 55", and one can definitely see why. Some of this stuff draws some vague resemblances with bands such as The Eagles.
Best known from the album is probably "I Hope That I Don't Fall In Love With You", which is one of many bittersweet ballads. The string "Martha", "Rosie" and "Lonely" are all fantastic pieces of music.
Now, Waits' voice here is soft and pleasant. Not even a sign of the voice most people know him by. It's fascinating to listen to, and this is a good record, but I think we shall be grateful that he didn't kept walking up this alley. As pleasant as this album is, it doesn't work more than once; it's simply not interesting enough.
Having that said, you really can't go wrong with this album. It's probably one of the most listenable and accessible albums in Tom Waits' catalogue. It is also interesting to hear how much Waits has developed.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 28 February 2012
Tom Wait's debut sounds NOTHING like his new albums. For one, his voice sounds normal. No gruff and tough wailing or anything Tom Waits-y. Just a sad, lonely voice, a piano playing in the background, and the most depressing set of songs you'll ever hear on this Earth.
It's the kind of music played by that lonely bastard in an old bar during closing time. Nobody's around, so might as well shed some tears and exorcise some demons. It's a cathartic feeling that can never be obtained while sober, so Tom Waits decides to booze it up and hit the keys.
The songs themselves are beautifully written. This man is God's gift to songwriting in general. Hearing these songs for the first time, you get the impression that you have always known the words by heart, that there has always been a Tom Waits at the piano bar where you usually drink your sorrows away.