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Tom Waits - Real Gone (Cover Artwork)

Tom Waits

Tom Waits: Real GoneReal Gone (2004)
Anti- Records

Reviewer Rating: 4.5
User Rating:


Contributed by: elliotelliot
(others by this writer | submit your own)

For someone like Tom Waits, making another album seems almost pointless. For thirty years he has proven himself to be miles ahead of nearly everyone around him. Starting as a balladeer in a martini haze, and morphing into a strange, oddly poetic noise master, one could make the case that Waits has d.
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For someone like Tom Waits, making another album seems almost pointless. For thirty years he has proven himself to be miles ahead of nearly everyone around him. Starting as a balladeer in a martini haze, and morphing into a strange, oddly poetic noise master, one could make the case that Waits has done all there is for him to do, and is only repeating himself.

It turns out that anyone who thought that Tom Waits couldn't surprise his listeners ended up being completely wrong. Real Gone is a fourteen-song juggernaut that shakes you down to your very core and hits you everywhere you least anticipate. The most conspicuous aspect of this album is the absence of one instrument: the piano. It has been one of Waits' trademarks, but for some reason, he decided that it wasn't necessary for any of these songs. This means that tender ballads from past albums such as "Georgia Lee" or "Time" are not here to lighten up the mood at all. Instead, Waits builds a good portion of these songs around what he calls "mouth rhythms." They're essentially mini-cassette recordings of him in a bathroom, beatboxing a rhythm, and then having all of the instrumentation layered over it. It's a technique that you're greeted with right as the album starts, with "Top Of The Hill," a song that at first seems like something off an indie hip-hop album. "Metropolitan Glide" is another noise-fest, this time offering an instructional dance. Somehow, this song was just nominated for a Grammy. We'll see if Waits can hold is own at the ceremonies against more traditional (and boring) songwriters in his category like John Mayer.

The album's centerpiece is the eleven-minute marathon "Sins Of The Father." It employs one of Waits' best techniques: building terror and suspense around a quiet, eerie groove that can best be described as "murder blues." As the song reaches its end, you've been brought to the edge of the cliff and are left there, dangling, wanting more.

Another one of Tom Waits' most distinguishable aspects of his albums is his lyrics. There are many of the usual lyrics that we would expect from Waits on Real Gone, with beat-poet metaphors and desperate characters. But a couple of the songs take on political tones, albeit with Waits' evasive narrations. "Day After Tomorrow" is from the point of view of a soldier, sent off to fight in a war that he simply doesn't understand. A line such as "I still don't know how I'm supposed to feel about all the blood that's been spilled. Will God on his throne get me back home on the day after tomorrow?" feels like a wave of wisdom washing over you, coming from the wise old mind of Tom Waits.

It would take much more to describe the entire album, since each song is in its own distant dimension. What can be easily said is that Tom Waits, even after making music for thirty years, is still challenging himself and his audience beyond their wildest expectations. For one of the few truly rewarding releases of 2004, you need look no further than Real Gone.

 

 
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Fine Print: The following comments are owned by whoever posted them. We are not respon sible for them in any way. Seriously.
TR (April 10, 2008)

Still the best man alive.

taxidermy (June 24, 2007)

great album. all of tom's anti releases are. brain and les claypool from primus appear on some of the songs. don't run out and buy it if you haven't heard it/him though; it's a really acquired taste. some people can't get around his voice but if you're able to appreciate his brand of bizarre song writing and style you'll eat this shit right up.

Anonymous (April 11, 2005)

G is for genius.

Anonymous (January 9, 2005)

Tom Waits has that unusal ability to truly scare the living shit out of you, fascinate you, make you think unusually dark thoughts with unusual enthusiasm, and appreciate the unusual darker side of life, all at once.

Anonymous (December 21, 2004)

I want adam to drop a cleavland steamer on my chest

-Chinatown

Anonymous (December 20, 2004)

tom waits could shit on a record and it would be awsome

Anonymous (December 20, 2004)

Me and my momma bob for pickles
-Chinatown

Anonymous (December 19, 2004)

Tom's brilliant. Period. Although, while hes never put out a bad album, i wouldnt put this one in his top 5. But im still givin it a 10 because of, like all his work, its uniqueness (spell?), creativity, and diversity. He is like nothing else out there. And unlike most of you, i would put this one a notch or 2 above blood money and alice. for some reason, although were already at his next album, those 2 still just havent grown on me yet. oh well real gone is awesome and hes gonna kick john mayers ass at the grammys. i may actually watch this year....

---Xis

punkpirate (December 17, 2004)

Duped,

Thats cool. I wasn't trying to shit on you either. As I posted befor Day After Tomorrow gave me the biggest chills when I first heard it. And song like Hoist That Rag, Shake It, How's It Gonna End, and Metropolitan Glide are also some of my picks along with yours.

I see what your saying about Circus, it dosn't really fit the mix, it sounds like it should be on Black Riders.

Anonymous (December 17, 2004)

punkpirate,

i think i came off more negative than i meant to, because i thoroughly enjoyed "real gone." my negative remarks remain, but i really should add that it's an awesome disc with some spectacular highlights that i forgot to mention. "day after tomorrow" features poignant and thoughtful lyrics more in touch with emotion than politics, "make it rain" is a raw, blues-injected rock masterpiece (and one of waits' finest), and songs like "don't go into that barn" and "hoist that rag" show the brilliance in the disc's innovations--adding on to waits' established (and ecclectic) mix of blues, rock, poetry, and a penchant for storytelling.

as for "circus," i still am not sold. though the imagery is sharp, it is an emotionless and out-of-place spot on the album--it really breaks up the flow. songs like "watch her disappear" from alice and the haunting "the ocean doesn't want me" from bone machine are just so rife with emotion and the imagery is simply hard to shake.

-duped

punkpirate (December 17, 2004)

Duped,
As much as I liked your post, becuase it sounds like you listen to Tom Waits often, I would have to disagree. Yes, Real Gone comes nowhere ner the exellance of Alice and Blood Money but it is still a good album. The ruffness and dirtyness is what makes this album good, much like Bone Machine, it may be hard to sit down and listen to at first but grows on you and later becomes a favorit.

"("circus" is a throwaway and a stain in waits' otherwise amazing spoken word songs)." This is where I disagree with you the most, I find this to be one of the better spoken word songs (next to everything on Nighthawks at the Diner.)
Waits is extremely discriptive on this track and puts you in to a cazy carnival filled with freaks and drunks.

Respect your view on Real Gone, becuase thats what I thought when first heard it, but I disagree with you becuase it grows on you much like Mule Variations or Bone Machine.

Cheers!!!

Anonymous (December 17, 2004)

The kids at school are mean to me. I hate them, I wish I never invited them to my birthday party. WAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHH!

-Chinatown

Anonymous (December 17, 2004)

I tried a piece of my poop, and ya know, it wasn't that bad.

-Chinatown

Anonymous (December 16, 2004)

...thanks to notChinatown for providing everyone with a reason to register here before posting."

I'd log in if I could, but my goddamn password's not working. I'm probably going to open an account so I can register under a new username, 'cause all of these impersonations are pissing me off. I'll keep on writing reviews as Chinatown, however.

-Chinatown

Anonymous (December 16, 2004)

this is a difficult album, and yet ANOTHER unexpected sound from mr. waits (and the misses), but has just enough flaws and greatness to pretty much dismiss what everyone here keeps saying.

no, it's not tom waits' best album, nor is it close. the disc is far too long, and some tracks should've been left in the studio ("circus" is a throwaway and a stain in waits' otherwise amazing spoken word songs). but this does what the next tom waits cd should have: shocked and progressed.

alice and blood money were stunning pieces of work, rife with moody theatrics and points of poetic zenith (see "alice" and "barcolle"), but were relatively tame in waits scope--more of a culmination his prior decades' collection than a progression.

like bone machine, real gone is difficult to listen to--only real gone can move in the painful category. resting his piano and boneyard percussion for the album, waits scrapes his rusty vocal chords for a skeletal, and filthy-sounding, layout for the songs. it's shocking and, at times, cringe-worthy, but adds a chilling and primal mood to the unusually dark album.

but if you listen hard enough and sift through the layers of grime and distortion, you're sure to find the tom waits you know and love--poetic, innovative, and drenched with blood-and-whiskey-soaked imagery and wisdom.

-duped

ThriveToFailure (December 16, 2004)

...thanks to notChinatown for providing everyone with a reason to register here before posting.

Anonymous (December 16, 2004)

Um, no.

-Chinatown

Anonymous (December 15, 2004)

I have herpes. I got them from my sleazy uncle. He lives in My QVC trailer home dreamworld with me.

-Chinatown

Anonymous (December 15, 2004)

I haven't a clue about nothin'.

-Chinatown

Anonymous (December 15, 2004)

When are they going to review my favorite record of the year? You know that Yellowcard one?

-Chinatown

Anonymous (December 15, 2004)

I'm watching QVC & buying like crazy, but my trailer home won't hold my extra goodies.

-Chinatown

Anonymous (December 15, 2004)

I blew the local priest.

-Chinatown

Anonymous (December 15, 2004)

I'm an imbecile.

-Chinatown

Anonymous (December 15, 2004)

i love tom waits. when i first heard Rain Dogs i was floored.

Anonymous (December 15, 2004)

Not really... I can think of about 40 better albums that came out this year.

-Chinatown

Anonymous (December 15, 2004)

worst tom waits cd in a while is still better than 99% of the shit out there right now

soulbleed (December 15, 2004)

worst tom waits cd in awhile

manifesto (December 14, 2004)

Hands down the best album of the year. Songs like "Hoist that Rag", "Shake It", "Don't Go Into that Barn", "How's it Gonna End" and "Make it Rain" are instant classics. Well every song on the album is amazing. The lyrics are full of passion and the creativity level is top notch. And just listen to that guitar solo in "Hoist that Rag"...simple but outstanding... On top of it all, the package is great. With Real Gone, Tom Waits really proves us that his grammy nomination for the song "Metropolitan Glide" is worth it!

Anonymous (December 14, 2004)

Indeed. Out of order, and full of typos.

-Chinatown

Anonymous (December 14, 2004)

Tell his drummer to buy some cymbals

gladimnotemo (December 14, 2004)

On my copy, the tracklisting on the back and in the book are out of order...anyone else?

I wish I could be half the musician this man is.

Anonymous (December 14, 2004)

at least Daveid didn't do this review.

Jesse (December 14, 2004)

Definitely in my top ten of 2004.

Anonymous (December 14, 2004)

Oh, and what's with all the typos in the liner notes? Is it meant to keep up with the album's "rebellious" theme?

-Chinatown

punkpirate (December 14, 2004)

"If you ever get a chance, check out his debut Closing Time. It turns out that Tom Waits used to have a beautiful singing voice, and wrote songs to match. The progression from that to this is amazing to this is amazing to listen to."

Yeah I'm listening to Closing Time right now, not his best album but still really good. The Heart Of Saturday Night is like that too.

hungryjoe (December 14, 2004)

If you ever get a chance, check out his debut Closing Time. It turns out that Tom Waits used to have a beautiful singing voice, and wrote songs to match. The progression from that to this is amazing to this is amazing to listen to.

Anonymous (December 14, 2004)

This is a step down from both "Alice" and "Blood Money." The arrangements and lyrics seem less inspired. Plus, my copy (which I BOUGHT, Epitaph) skips at track 16. It's a pretty pointless track, I know, but it still bothers me.

In sum, this album isn't even in my top 30 of the year. By no means essential. Buy "Blood Money" instead (from a store, as Anti charges a ridiculous $18 for their CDs online).

-Chinatown

punkpirate (December 14, 2004)

Day After Tomorrow in my opinion is one of the best songs ever writen. I don't know why that song didn't get a grammy nomination. The first time I heard it, it brought tears to my eyes.

punkpirate (December 14, 2004)

This man is one of the most creative musicians ever, whether its young Tom Waits with The Heart of Saturday Night, or in the middle with Rain Dogs, or most resant with Alice and Real Gone. Tom Waits can never make a boring album. The albums will bring up and then shoot you straight down to hell.
I credit Tom Waits to two thing:

1. Making me listen to music outside of Punk
2. Contributing to my drink problem becuase if you thought it was good sober listen to it drunk, you'll hear every emotion he puts in to the song.

Anonymous (December 14, 2004)

You didn't mention "Hoist the Rag." That is clearly the best track on the whole album. Its a new classic.

Anonymous (December 14, 2004)

the review i submitted last night was better. still, an a album minus the meandering 10 minute track.

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