Album: Tom Waits <!-- none onestar twostar threestar fourstar fivestar -->

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The Independent Culture

Waits is the musical equivalent of Marmite, an acquired taste; but for those who savour his eclectic blend of blues hollers, jazz piano, tragic ballads, and found percussion, and all-encompassing grasp of American folk musics, this triple-CD set is a feast of vivid flavours. It's divided into separate discs of Brawlers, Bawlers and Bastards, roughly correspondent to his surreal roadhouse blues and garage rock; his poignant ballads; and his weirder, uncategorisable pieces (including covers of songs by Daniel Johnston and The Ramones, and a poem by Charles Bukowski). The differences, however, are less decisive than the similarities, as illustrated by a track such as "Little Drop of Poison", nominally a Bawler, despite its bowed saw, bass clarinet and clanking metal percussion. If forced to pick one, I'd take Brawlers, for its raucous mix of psychobilly rock, grungey blues and slinky mambos, and for "Road to Peace", a stinging indictment of fundamentalist attitudes on both sides of the current divide, through an account of the spiral of retribution that follows a suicide bombing.

DOWNLOAD THIS: 'Road to Peace', 'Little Drop of Poison', '2:19', 'Never Let Go', 'Lie to Me', 'Fish in the Jailhouse'

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