Release Date: Nov 21, 2006
Record label: Anti
Ultimately, the epicenter of Orphans is Waits' voice. It's many expressions, nuances, bellows, barks, hollers, open wails, roughshod croons, and midnight whispers carry these songs and monologues to the listener with authority as an open invitation into his sound world, his view of tradition, and his manner of shaping that world as something not ephemeral, but as an extension of musical time itself. As a vocalist, Waits, like Bob Dylan, embodies the entire genealogical line of the blues, jazz, local barroom bards, and traveling minstrels in the very grain of his songs.
This is actually three albums, each with a separate name and function, which together make up one very powerful entity. Its 56 songs - 30 new, or reworkings of abandoned songs; 24 rarities, stage and screen songs, collaborations and covers - are sorted on to CDs titled Bawlers, Brawlers and Bastards. It's self-explanatory to any Waits fan, since between them they encapsulate his 30-plus years of music.
Welcome to Tom Waits' garage sale! This 3-CD collection of covers, rarities, new and old songs is a big lot to sort through, but the choice finds are worth it. Orphans is more of Waits' strange fruit: murderers and madmen, petty criminals and wicked women, junk cars and empty bars. The "Brawlers" disc represents Waits' more contemporary recordings: "2:19" echoes Real Gone and "Bottom of the World" waltzes the Pogues' Matilda.