For those unfamiliar with Tom Waits’ work, his deep and distinctive voice spanning across experimental genres can seem slightly difficult to manoeuvre.
Starting work predominantly as a jazz musician during the 1970s, Waits has experimented over the years and has added his own special influence in the genres of blues, rock and roll and, at times, punk.
A prolific reader, a student of film and a man who generally takes inspiration from all means of cultural movements, getting involved with some of Waits music can seem a daunting one at first. With 16 studio albums spanning from his debut in 1973 right up until his most recent in 2011, each of Waits’ records have been a reflection of his mindset in that moment.
As Waits has grown older his output has understandably slowed. More moments of self reflection have taken precedence and, last year, he decided to reissue his first seven albums with improved mastering and exclusive vinyl. His historic 1973 debut album Closing Time was re-released alongside Heart Of Saturday Night (1974), Nighthawks At The Diner (1975), Small Change (1976), Foreign Affairs (1977), Blue Valentine (1978) and Heartattack And Vine (1980).
The records, originally released through Elektra Asylum Records in the 1970s, had become extremely rare releases in recent years as collectors snapped up the few remaining copies. To coincide with the news of the re-release, we found that Waits had personally curated a 76-song playlist of songs which spans decades.
The selection of songs offers an interesting viewpoint into Waits’ mindset of his early material, the playlist mixing his styles but often reverting back to his piano ballads as he eases you into the world of Tom Waits.