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Foreign Affairs

Foreign Affairs

9 Jul 2008
4.6 out of 5 stars 16 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Original Release Date: 9 July 2008
  • Release Date: 9 July 2008
  • Label: Rhino/Elektra
  • Record Company Required Metadata: Music file metadata contains unique purchase identifier. Learn more.
  • Total Length: 42:03
  • Genres:
  • ASIN: B001F7QSXU
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars 16 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 67,701 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
Foreign Affairs was one of the first albums by Tom Waits I'd bought, adding to Rain Dogs, Swordfishtrombones and Small Change in my fledgling Waits collection. As my love, and somewhat obsession, of his music grew, and every album of his hefty back catalogue sits proudly in my CD rack, Foreign Affairs always stuck out in my mind, in my opinion, the finest of all his works.
The black and white cover of Waits and his then girlfriend Rickie Lee Jones sets an appropriate mood for the whole album, a real sense of noir and night that accompanies the songs. Cinny's Waltz kicks off the proceedings with its lush strings, a beautiful instrumental with a jazzy melancholy and wonder, and heart-melting horns. The lonely deadbeat lament of Muriel follows, a song that befits the persona that Waits had created, a drunk's outpouring for an old flame in a track peppered with regret and remorse. I Never Talk To Strangers is arguably the album's most famous track, a sparring duet with Bette Midler in a barroom arena, as Waits' attempted smooth talkin' of his target leads to a trade of insults between the two, tho the ballad ends with the singers in harmony with each other. The Jack and Neal Medley is a brilliant piece of beat spoken word against a double bass and horns backdrop, a great homage to Kerouac and Cassidy and their boisterous behaviour on the road, before the reflective side of Waits appears again with A Sight For Sore Eyes, originally an outtake from Small Change which slots in nicely, as the song's narrator catches up on the lives and loves of his hometown compadres over a few drinks.
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Format: Audio CD
Capping a fabulous run of albums that featured a fairly stable team of jazzers, whilst this isn't the final instalment of Waits' love affair with his jazzy Tin Pan Alley persona (that was to come in the form of the album that is both the sound track to a Coppola movie, and a standalone masterpiece - One From The Heart - which was itself inspired by a track from this album) it was the last in a consecutive string of releases built around the relatively stable team of bassist Jim Hughart and the incomparable Shelly Manne, on drums. Whilst Howe and Alcivar remained in the Waits orbit for a little longer, Hughart and Manne would only make the one return (for the aforementioned 'One From The Heart'), so this is really the document of the end of an era in the Waits story, the next chapter destined to be more raw, bluesy and electric, with albums like Blue Valentines and Heartattack And Vine.

As well as ending an era of collaboration, it also finds Waits' partnership with arranger Bob Alcivar hitting a kind of cinematic peak (again, a style to be notably if somewhat differently reprised on 'One From The Heart'). Indeed, the liner notes describe the recording as "A Mr Bones Production / Tom waits: Piano & Vocals / Co-Starring Bette Midler / With this great supporting cast ... [and then lists the band]".
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Format: Audio CD
Foreign Affairs is the final seventies Tom Waits album to enter my collection, and I wish it hadn't taken me so long. This is one of his most beautiful albums, and is a melancholic, jazzy delight from start to end. 'I never talk to strangers' is the highlight, a quite hilarious but oh so true pick up scenario in a bar, duetting with Bette Midler. This album's a forgotten classic in the Tom cannon, very easy listening on the surface, but an undercurrant of his inimitable mixture of sadness and wry humour lies bubbling under.
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Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
Sublime and beautiful. Tom never fails. 'Potter's Field' is perhaps his greatest beat monologue. An epic tale, as also 'Burma-Shave'. Be warned, you may prefer Tom a little more spiky. It is quite a slow-tempo, symphonic sort of affair, but once imbibed, you'll want to top up on it again and again.
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Format: Audio CD
while waits travelled through several different areas as he progressed his career, from barbum, to beat poet, to blues, all before the end of the 70s, this album is almost a one-off phase. it's as if he were let loose in his own cinema. there's noir, there's b movies, there's all sorts of things, but you really get the feeling waits can visualise everything in front of him and is hoping he's put enough out there for you to see it too. intensely ambitious (check out the mammoth and awe-inspiring potter's field), this isn't an easy album to get into. i don't hold it among my favourites, but there's no doubting waits determination to make art, and not just churn out albums with some standard blues or jazz riffs on it. and that's to be admired, even if he'd achieve it more successfully in later albums.
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