Tom Waits - Bone Machine

Album: Bone Machine
Artist: Tom Waits
Released: 1992
Rating: 5/5
Link: {Link Removed at Request}

Tom Waits released his first album in 1973. Closing Time was a collection of fairly standard lounge-pop. Ten years later he completely reinvented himself with Swordfishtrombones, a left-field masterpiece of Captain Beefheart style experimental music. Just under a decade later came Bone Machine, which, in my opinion, is Tom Waits' defining masterpiece.

Bone Machine is a dark, disturbing, mess of an album. I don't even know what that's a picture of on the cover. The title is a reference to the human body as something that will inevitably break down and be replaced. There's a pervading sense of doom throughout this album, which is helped by the the lo-fi, unclear, production, which helps keep everything a little more disorienting and creepy.

Musically, this is an incredibly spare and minimalist album. Most of the songs rely on little more than a bit of percussion (not a drumkit, though, usually just some cans or something Waits has found somewhere) and maybe a bit of bass and few strums of guitar. All of this creates a great atmosphere for the real star, which is Waits' voice. He uses his unique voice (often described as "like he's gargled gravel for his whole life") to inhabit the album's various characters.

Lyrically, this is an album filled with death and depression. Songs like "Earth Died Screaming", "Dirt In The Ground", "The Ocean Doesn't Want Me", "In The Colosseum", and "Murder In The Red Barn" are all filled with the kinds of characters I'd usually expect on a Big Black album. If you're looking for a good time, look elsewhere.

A true classic.

Highlights: "Dirt In The Ground", "In The Colosseum", "I Don't Wanna Grow Up"

By. P. Segal