Release Date: Nov 23, 2009
Record label: Anti
Genre(s): Rock, Alternative
Music’s cookie-monster contrarian gets his Peter Pan on “Now, when I was a boymy daddy sat me on his kneeand he told me, he told me many things. And he said, ‘Son,’he always called me son,he said, ‘There’s a lot of things in this world, son, you’re going to have absolutely no use for,’and he was right. ”-Tom Waits, “Lucky Day” Although you’d be hard pressed to find a cooler old dude in the universe, and despite all the rather geriatric trappings he’s happily embraced over the years (fedora hats, a propensity to ramble, etc.
For Tom Waits, whose tours have become increasingly rare toward the autumn of his career, this makes sense. He’s released live albums before, each marking a significant era in his evolution as an artist. Nighthawks at the Diner found him in the height of his drunken, torch song splendor and Big Time was an attempt to spotlight his post-beat, tongue-in-cheek art-house persona.
It's hard to think of gruff Tom Waits getting his start as an earnest, albeit eccentric singer-songwriter in the 1970s. Almost immediately after releasing his debut, Closing Time, in 1973, Waits began shaking up his act and developing the oddball facets of his current persona: the hipster Beat delivery, the fascination with prowlers of back alleys and underbellies, the appreciation for jazz and blues and other American idioms, and the unmistakable voice that has grown stranger and more thunderous with each album. By the 1980s, the transformation was complete, although albums like swordfishtrombones and Rain Dogs were gambits, alienating as many fans as they attracted.
By now, you should have decided whether you're a Tom Waits fan or not (unless of course you've been living in the jungle for the last 30 years). The idiosyncratic American legend tends to provoke love or hate, as it goes with anyone who's carved out such a unique niche. [rssbreak] Most fans didn't get a chance to catch him on his recent Glitter And Doom tour, since it avoided most major cities and concentrated on smaller venues, so Waits has put together this live album out of recordings from various stops on the tour.
Tom Waits may be the only musician on the planet who can afford to be as weird as he is without becoming a parody of himself. Even a parody of Waits would be fresher than most music today – in fact, I’m surprised we haven’t really seen one. Perhaps it is too intimidating a task. Anyway, Waits is as weird as ever on Glitter and Doom, a live album based on his typically unusual tour in 2008 that eluded cities like New York, Chicago and San Francisco in favor of El Paso, Tulsa and Mobile, Alabama (???).
Tom Waits is notorious among his rabid fanbase for his reluctance to tour. When a string of dates was announced in 2008, a mere two years following his previous touring commitments, it felt like a token of gratitude between Waits and his long-standing acolytes. A strict two-ticket-a-person limit, however, did not keep the shows from selling out immediately, and the inevitable heartbreak that struck those shut out commenced as the grizzly troubadour hiked out on his handful of gigs, blazing his tumbling trek primarily through the southern states of America.
Recorded over the course of his Peskajumba tour, Glitter and Doom Live joins Nighthawks at the Diner (1975) and Big Time (1988) as chronicles of the awesome and, across the span of years, protean experience that is Tom Waits live. The shift in musical style across that time has been profound. On Nighthawks... Waits was a whisky-soaked, ash-speckled balladeer wandering a Los Angelean metropolitan district that might never have existed outside the pages of John Fante's Ask the Dust.