Friday, March 16, 2012

20 Essential Albums: Bone Machine

Bone Machine - Tom Waits

There may be better albums by Tom Waits.  In fact, Swordfishtrombones and Raindogs are better albums.  Bone Machine, though, was Tom Waits to an extreme.  The traditional Tom Waits songs are here, perfect melodies, strong chorus, the sorts of songs that get covered by commercial crooners, but counteracted by the gravel in Waits’s voice. It is the boldness of the other songs that makes this album essential.

It is easy to imagine these songs banged out in some barn, with anything handy used for percussion, the guitar amp with a hole in it, and the vocals recorded through a vintage mic. There is something to be appreciated in the creation of really great songs that reject everything conventional. The songs represent a casualness, a relaxed freedom, even when done with passion in songs like “Such a Scream” or songs that come off like work songs, as “Jesus Gonna Be Here.”

For me, Tom Waits was what to listen to when all else seemed too typical, when nothing else fit.  It sounded like independence and individuality.

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