Wax Poetic: Tom Waits presents Alice

I’m not certain if there is another compilation of tune that sounds better on vinyl. This album invokes romance, longing and sheer terror all at once and the warm skip of a needle adds to its charm.

I acquired this record on a stormy night. It wasn’t just a drizzle, the drops were racing sideways pelting the windows so loudly I couldn’t rest. All of a sudden there was a knock at my door and I opened it to find a rain-soaked and rugged young man carrying the record I’d coveted for a years’ time. I instantly let this wayward fellow indoors to dry his clothing and revel in the spoils he’d thrown my way. Perhaps we danced, perhaps we had a booze drink and a chat. Whatever it was we did that night this record was at the heart of it all.

Soon after he left I played the volume of song repeatedly. I had never heard these songs as they were presented on wax, never were they lent this much affection.

Tom Waits sets melancholy thought to such an obtuse sound palate. At once, you hear his solemn hymn named Alice. Not long after, as the seduction of the album has settled in, it all comes to a screeching and jazz-addled halt in Kommienezuspadt, oddly approachable yet entirely macabre.

This isn’t Tom Waits the early years, folks. This is experimentation at its finest. It’s a general middle finger to the music lover in all of us. And, yet, if you listen fully to this project on vinyl you’ll appreciate its grandiose execution. It’s brilliant, and in his whiskey soaked vocal styling Waits delivers his finest album to date.

-Holly Jones, Editor, On Tour Magazine