Music » CD Reviews

Tom Waits

Orphans (Anti-)

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In Tom Waits' vast cast of musical personalities, three dominate: the swamp-stomping bluesman, the sad romantic, and hell's cabaret performer. These three faces serve as the organizing principle behind Orphans, a triple-disc set of rarities and previously unreleased songs. The set is split into three categories: "Brawlers," "Bawlers," and "Bastards," which translate roughly into blues, ballads, and oddities, respectively. While most packages of this type consist of leftovers, throwaway demos, and alternate takes, Orphans, which spans Waits' Island years of the early '80s to the present, sidesteps this pitfall. Indeed, his myriad eccentrities and musical breadth are on full display here, especially in outtakes from such classics as Bone Machine and Frank's Wild Years. It's that mix of the adventurous and the familiar that makes Orphans a must-own for Waits fans.

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