Tom Waits: “Glitter and Doom Live”

Wanna know the difference between a Tom Waits appreciator and a Tom Waits aficionado? For those merely impressed by Waits’ gifts —those who, perhaps, even admit to enjoying his music, in limited doses — it all starts with the songs. “You know, once you get past the voice, he’s actually a great songwriter!” And indeed he is, but ah, The Voice! For the true connoisseur, it begins and ends with the voice, the one that barks, sputters, coughs, growls, takes a Howlin’ Wolf imitation straight through the gutter and sometimes all the way down to Hell.

But where to start with Glitter and Doom? If anyone ever doubted Waits’ capacity to write songs of bold, melodic beauty and lyrical elegance, this fine set would leave them without a leg to stand on; presented live and without the smoke and mirrors of the recording studio, the songs assembled here are amplified not only in their sheer loveliness, but also in how composerly they are structured, and how richly they reflect an increasingly diverse milieu of musical traditions. And The Voice? It’s pushed to the fore and strained to the max: The Tom Waits who softly rasps at the piano is mostly eschewed in favor of Tom Waits, the carnival barker.

Read the rest at Stereo Subversion.

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