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Tom Waits - Bone Machine

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Bone Machine

Tom Waits

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Perhaps Tom Waits' most cohesive album, Bone Machine is a morbid, sinister nightmare, one that applied the quirks of his experimental '80s classics to stunningly evocative -- and often harrowing -- effect. In keeping with the title's grotesque image of the human body, Bone Machine is obsessed with decay and mortality, the ease with which earthly existence can be destroyed. The arrangements are accordingly stripped of all excess flesh; the very few, often non-traditional instruments float in distinct separation over the clanking junkyard percussion that dominates the record. It's a chilling, primal sound made all the more otherworldly (or, perhaps, underworldly) by Waits' raspy falsetto and often-distorted roars and growls. Matching that evocative power is Waits' songwriting, which is arguably the most consistently focused it's ever been. Rich in strange and extraordinarily vivid imagery, many of Waits' tales and musings are spun against an imposing backdrop of apocalyptic natural fury, underlining the insignificance of his subjects and their universally impending doom. Death is seen as freedom for the spirit, an escape from the dread and suffering of life in this world -- which he paints as hellishly bleak, full of murder, suicide, and corruption. The chugging, oddly bouncy beats of the more uptempo numbers make them even more disturbing -- there's a detached nonchalance beneath the horrific visions. Even the narrator of the catchy, playful "I Don't Wanna Grow Up" seems hopeless in this context, but that song paves the way for the closer "That Feel," an ode to the endurance of the human soul (with ultimate survivor Keith Richards on harmony vocals). The more upbeat ending hardly dispels the cloud of doom hanging over the rest of Bone Machine, but it does give the listener a gentler escape from that terrifying sonic world. All of it adds up to Waits' most affecting and powerful recording, even if it isn't his most accessible.
© Steve Huey /TiVo

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Bone Machine

Tom Waits

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1
The Earth Died Screaming
00:03:38

Tom Waits, Producer, MainArtist, ComposerLyricist - Kathleen Brennan, Producer, Associate Producer

℗ 1992 The Island Def Jam Music Group

2
Dirt In The Ground
00:04:07

Tom Waits, Producer, MainArtist, ComposerLyricist - Kathleen Brennan, Producer, Associate Producer, ComposerLyricist

℗ 1992 UMG Recordings, Inc.

3
Such A Scream
00:02:08

Tom Waits, Producer, MainArtist, ComposerLyricist - Kathleen Brennan, Producer, Associate Producer

℗ 1992 UMG Recordings, Inc.

4
All Stripped Down
00:03:03

Tom Waits, Producer, MainArtist, ComposerLyricist - Kathleen Brennan, Producer, Associate Producer

℗ 1992 UMG Recordings, Inc.

5
Who Are You This Time
00:03:55

Tom Waits, Producer, MainArtist, ComposerLyricist - Kathleen Brennan, Producer, Associate Producer, ComposerLyricist

℗ 1992 UMG Recordings, Inc.

6
The Ocean
00:01:51

Tom Waits, Producer, MainArtist, ComposerLyricist - Kathleen Brennan, Producer, Associate Producer

℗ 1992 UMG Recordings, Inc.

7
Jesus Gonna Be Here
00:03:18

Tom Waits, Producer, MainArtist, ComposerLyricist - Kathleen Brennan, Producer, Associate Producer

℗ 1992 UMG Recordings, Inc.

8
A Little Rain
00:02:58

Tom Waits, Producer, MainArtist, ComposerLyricist - Kathleen Brennan, Producer, Associate Producer, ComposerLyricist

℗ 1992 UMG Recordings, Inc.

9
In The Colosseum
00:04:50

Tom Waits, Producer, MainArtist, ComposerLyricist - Kathleen Brennan, Producer, Associate Producer, ComposerLyricist

℗ 1992 UMG Recordings, Inc.

10
Goin' Out West
00:03:20

Tom Waits, Producer, MainArtist, ComposerLyricist - Kathleen Brennan, Producer, Associate Producer, ComposerLyricist

℗ 1992 UMG Recordings, Inc.

11
Murder In The Red Barn
00:04:28

Tom Waits, Producer, MainArtist, ComposerLyricist - Kathleen Brennan, Producer, Associate Producer, ComposerLyricist

℗ 1992 UMG Recordings, Inc.

12
Black Wings
00:04:35

Tom Waits, Producer, MainArtist, ComposerLyricist - Kathleen Brennan, Producer, Associate Producer, ComposerLyricist

℗ 1992 UMG Recordings, Inc.

13
Whistle Down The Wind
00:04:35

Tom Waits, Producer, MainArtist, ComposerLyricist - Kathleen Brennan, Producer, Associate Producer, ComposerLyricist

℗ 1992 UMG Recordings, Inc.

14
I Don't Wanna Grow Up
00:02:31

Tom Waits, Producer, MainArtist, ComposerLyricist - Kathleen Brennan, Producer, Associate Producer, ComposerLyricist

℗ 1992 UMG Recordings, Inc.

15
Let Me Down Up On It
00:00:53

Tom Waits, Producer, MainArtist, ComposerLyricist - Kathleen Brennan, Producer, Associate Producer

℗ 1992 UMG Recordings, Inc.

16
That Feel
00:03:12

Tom Waits, Producer, MainArtist, ComposerLyricist - KEITH RICHARDS, ComposerLyricist - Kathleen Brennan, Producer, Associate Producer

℗ 1992 UMG Recordings, Inc.

Album Description

Perhaps Tom Waits' most cohesive album, Bone Machine is a morbid, sinister nightmare, one that applied the quirks of his experimental '80s classics to stunningly evocative -- and often harrowing -- effect. In keeping with the title's grotesque image of the human body, Bone Machine is obsessed with decay and mortality, the ease with which earthly existence can be destroyed. The arrangements are accordingly stripped of all excess flesh; the very few, often non-traditional instruments float in distinct separation over the clanking junkyard percussion that dominates the record. It's a chilling, primal sound made all the more otherworldly (or, perhaps, underworldly) by Waits' raspy falsetto and often-distorted roars and growls. Matching that evocative power is Waits' songwriting, which is arguably the most consistently focused it's ever been. Rich in strange and extraordinarily vivid imagery, many of Waits' tales and musings are spun against an imposing backdrop of apocalyptic natural fury, underlining the insignificance of his subjects and their universally impending doom. Death is seen as freedom for the spirit, an escape from the dread and suffering of life in this world -- which he paints as hellishly bleak, full of murder, suicide, and corruption. The chugging, oddly bouncy beats of the more uptempo numbers make them even more disturbing -- there's a detached nonchalance beneath the horrific visions. Even the narrator of the catchy, playful "I Don't Wanna Grow Up" seems hopeless in this context, but that song paves the way for the closer "That Feel," an ode to the endurance of the human soul (with ultimate survivor Keith Richards on harmony vocals). The more upbeat ending hardly dispels the cloud of doom hanging over the rest of Bone Machine, but it does give the listener a gentler escape from that terrifying sonic world. All of it adds up to Waits' most affecting and powerful recording, even if it isn't his most accessible.
© Steve Huey /TiVo

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