Sunday, July 5, 2009

Tom Waits - Bone Machine

From the discography that just keeps on giving, burping up musical treasures like the ocean floor, Bone Machine is my favorite Waits' album, (today), and also where i would direct those that have problems with his raspy, gravelly voice, with ballads like Dirt in the Ground or Whistle down the Wind that have more soul than a clapboard baptist church in Mississippi.
Recorded in 1992, in a room with 'a cement floor and a water heater', awarded a grammy for best alternative album, and featuring guest appearances by Les Claypool, Brain, and Keith Richards; it combines raucous blues jams, apocalyptic gospel numbers, hillbilly music, and tender ballads. This album never skips a beat, solid as bedrock from start to finish, with the bone-dry african feel of 'Earth Died Screaming' to the jazz-funeral horns of 'Dirt in the Ground', it has some of my favorites of the Waits' canon, 'Goin' out West' (featured in the movie Fight Club), 'Who are You' which can wrench a tear from my stony heart, the spooky country of 'Murder in the Red Barn', and 'Black Wings' which could be a response to Nick Cave's second-coming 'Red Right Hand'.
I love the details and nuances of this record, the skeleton of the blues brought to life and dance with disembodied gamelan clanking, the kalimba-like sticks played on 'Earth Died Screaming', the chestnut horns on 'Dirt in the Ground', that would have done Charles Mingus proud. This album breathes, it emotes, it screams, it moans. It is a elegy and a celebration, a fine soundtrack for a rainy day or cooking a steak at midnight.
Also, another reader request: the guitar intro to 'Goin' Out West', which someone described to me like "being buried in dirt": can anyone think of other tracks that sound like this? I learned the guitar was played by a guy called Joe Gore, who also worked with PJ Harvey on the albums 'Is This Desire?' and 'To Bring You My Love,' and i have decided he is a total genius. I'd like to hear more of this raw and gritty guitar tone.
i hope you enjoy and y'all have a nice sunday.
Tom Waits - Bone Machine

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