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Bone Machine

Bone Machine

1 Jan 1992
4.6 out of 5 stars 18 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Original Release Date: 1 Jan. 1992
  • Release Date: 15 Dec. 2000
  • Label: Mercury Records Limited
  • Copyright: (C) 1992 UMG Recordings, Inc.
  • Record Company Required Metadata: Music file metadata contains unique purchase identifier. Learn more.
  • Total Length: 53:23
  • Genres:
  • ASIN: B001R95XSC
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars 18 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 23,365 in Albums (See Top 100 in Albums)
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Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Audio CD
Bone Machine, by Tom Waits, is an album as eerie, desolate, shambolic and claustrophobic as its title might suggest. Really, there is no adequate way of describing the songs, sound, style or production, without falling back on descriptions like rustic, desolate, gothic, bleak, worn, weary, rusted and disturbed, with Waits stripping away any lingering sense of the lounge-jazz veneer that permeated through the slumbering melancholy of his pre-Swordfishtrombones output, to instead, create something that is much more discomforting and menacing, in terms of sound and presentation. The songs are often quite minimal, featuring piano, guitars and a smattering of horns and solo strings, and that constant percussion, from the boners on the opening track, to the fierce clatter and cacophony of something like All Stripped Down, in which the percussions sounds like anything and everything from drum sticks on biscuit tins and heavy metal doors being violently slammed shut.
Lyrically, the album is as uncomfortable as the music and production, with the first song adopting the frantic perspective of cornball 50's sci-fi with the title 'Earth Died Screaming', to subsequent tracks like Dirt in the Ground, The Ocean Doesn't Want Me, Murder in the Red Barn and I Don't Wanna Grow Up, which seem to have an unhealthy preoccupation with old age, failure, death, bereavement, murder and decay. The album switches between loud, vibrant, carnivalesque tracks with a fuller band performance and robust, theatrical vocals from Waits, and more restrained numbers, which recall the late night minimalist misery of albums like Closing Time and Small Change.
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Format: Audio CD
I bought this CD a few months ago, listened to it once, then put it away. Something made me take it out the other night, I have been listening to it every night before I fall asleep. It's glued to my CD player. Best tracks are the primal, rocking "Going Out West", the bluesy "Dirt in the Ground", the beautiful "Who Are You" and "Whistle Down the Wind", and the poem "The Ocean Doesn't Want Me", about a man contemplating suicide.
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By Dr. Delvis Memphistopheles TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 23 April 2012
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
Encoded within its grain are the memories of a dead friend, who would place these CDs to retell the most surreal, dirty, cynical deadbeat true life stories about the abyss of life, all floundering on the husk of a depraved human mis-tery sailing on a sewer pipe. After undertaking his Dave Allen meandering monologue for thirty minutes, in a form of hypnotism, dashing a twist of surrealistic lemon, with a hint of bitters and convert the full combustible mixture into a howl festival. Meanwhile he would savoir a short sharp barb as the end point for his final delivery, to prick any pretension.

Staying in his flat I discovered the full breadth of Tom Waits, under layers of skunk, Stella and mirth. Tom Waits and Nick Cave were favorite takes on the cock eyed world that swirled outside. This record and the ones before it, made in the 1990's whisk me back into a time capsule, of bleak cynical chimes, as the percussion shakes the chicken bones to the various pulses inhabiting a body, wrist, heart, brain and lung breath, all shifting according to their internal rhythm. A raucous growl emits from the stomach and pushes its way up through the voice box to deliver a verdict on all external appearances. We have the junked up yard of "Earth Dies Screaming," some maudlin maladies and a deep central european angst peering through the shutters of a garbage can, to clang its own version of a beat held within.

Surreal music played at 2am in a god forsaken mid western town by a bunch of heads who are ex communicated from the local church, high on Satan's weed, letting their subconscious out in a heaving, drunken frenzy emitting a white light directly to an emotional beam up ahead.

About sums up this record, for me at least.
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Format: Audio CD
I'm surprised there aren't more reviews of this album, which for me was my introduction to the joys of Tom Waits, Bone Machine (1992) getting great critical reviews and being cited by people like Greg Dulli and Polly Harvey. Along with Mule Variations (1999), it's the closest 'normal' Waits album- rather than soundtrack work like Night on Earth or the challenging Black Rider-album. The use of industrial clatter (The Boners here) is the major advance here on the sound Waits moved into with records like Swordfishtrombones and Rain Dogs (reminds me a bit of the Stinkfist-record by Lydia Lunch & Clint Ruin). More than evident on the great opening track Earth Died Screaming...
I find Bone Machine wonderful as a whole, so it's hard to single out specific tracks- as you mention something like Murder in the Redbarn or Who Are You, you then remember something great like In the Colosseum or the Keef Richards'assisted closer That Feel. Dirt in the Ground is one of my faves, as is the bluesy Jesus Gonna Be Here- which ideally comes after the almost suicide of The Ocean Doesn't Want Me (which reminds me of Denis Johnson's novel Already Dead for some reason- possibly as Waits is mentioned in that novel!). The best song here for me remains Goin' Out West, which is a major sonic-advance on an earlier song like Heartattack & Vine and was memorably featured in 1999's film Fight Club.
The whole album is great though- Such a Scream sounding like the missing link between Ornette Coleman and Tricky- All Stripped Down the missing link between Captain Beefheart and Mark Lanegan- & Whistle Down the Wind the kind of song that makes you wonder why Nick Cave bothers...
Bone Machine was a highlight of the early 90s and more than stands up now- not much more to say than another classic Tom Waits album....
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