Top critical review
3 people found this helpful
on 6 September 2011
It`s interesting that this somewhat sloppy, slobby effort came, in 1980, a couple of years after the impeccable, dazzling Blue Valentine, and only months before he met his wife/muse/co-writer Kathleen on the set of One From The Heart - whose soundtrack is so romantic, exuberant and sumptuous - which in turn led to the revelatory and rejuvenating change of musical direction heralded by Swordfishtrombones.
From the (literally) sickly cover to the often slapdash numbers on this below-par album, the wittily titled Heartattack And Vine is one I rarely play, except to hear three gorgeous ballads: the lush Ruby`s Arms, the beautifully sung On The Nickel, and the Waits classic Jersey Girl, so ecstatically covered by Springsteen on an early live record.
These are as lovely as any of the slow songs Waits thankfully never deprives us of on his many releases, and they are welcome after such throwaway sweet-nothings as pointless blues instrumental In Shades, indifferent ballad Saving All My Love For You, the pat Downtown, and the forgettable `Til The Money Runs Out.
If I sound harsh, it`s because I love Tom Waits (as my other reviews testify) and rate him by the high standards he himself sets. I just don`t rate this a particularly compelling album overall. It ticks all the TW boxes, but somehow his heart is too seldom in it.
I can`t agree with fellow reviewers here - 5 stars! - who suggest this is a good place to start for a Waits virgin. Let it rather be Heart Of Saturday Night or Small Change, both far superior to this, or, if you`ve heard some of his later stuff & like it, well - any of them really. You`ll no doubt enjoy this one too, but it simply isn`t the man at his best, and his best is The Best! It`s a transitional record - a bit like Wavelength and, appropriately, Period Of Transition were for Van Morrison at around the same time.
Tom had made several stunning records before this one, and has made even more since. I`d say this is about 60% of a good album, no more.