Tom Waits - Mule Variations
NME.COM feature on Tom Waits - Mule Variations album including album review, artwork, tracks, listen now, tour dates, discography and more.
Release date: 27 April 1999
Tracklisting click track to read more
- Big in Japan
- Lowside of the Road
- Hold On
- Get Behind the Mule
- House Where Nobody Lives
- Cold Water
- What's He Building In There
- Black Market Baby
- Eyeball Kid
- Picture in a Frame
- Chocolate Jesus
- Georgia Lee
- Filipino Box Spring Hog
- Take It With Me
- Come on Up to the House
It's not up there with the best
- Oct 28, 2011
...a cacophonous, fearsome and shadowy delight...
- May 14, 2002
...mugging it up like Oscar from 'Sesame Street'...
- May 14, 2002
He played a 10 song set as part of Neil Young's Bridge School Benefit concert in California
The legendary singer hasn't performed a live show since 2008
Book will feature over 200 pages of images taken by both Corbijn and Waits himself
Tom Waits - Mule Variations: Wikipedia Album Entry
Tom Waits grew steadily less prolific after redefining himself as a junkyard noise poet with Swordfishtrombones, but the five-year wait between The Black Rider and 1999's Mule Variations was the longest yet. Given the fact that Waits decided to abandon major labels for the California indie Epitaph, Mule Variations would seem like a golden opportunity to redefine himself and begin a new phase of his career. However, it plays like a revue of highlights from every album he's made since Swordfishtrombones. Of course, that's hardly a criticism; the album uses the ragged cacophony of Bone Machine as a starting point, and proceeds to bring in the songwriterly aspects of Rain Dogs, along with its affection for backstreet and backwoods blues, plus a hint of the beatnik qualities of Swordfish. So Mule Variations delivers what fans want, in terms of both songs and sonics. But that also explains why it sounds terrific on initial spins, only to reveal itself as slightly dissatisfying with subsequent plays. All of Waits' Island records felt like fully conceived albums with genuine themes. Mule Variations, in contrast, is a collection of moments, and while each of those moments is very good (some even bordering on excellent), ultimately the whole doesn't equal the sum of its parts. While that may seem like nitpicking, some may have wanted a masterpiece after five years, and Mule Variations falls short of that mark. Nevertheless, this is a hell of a record by any other standard. Waits is still writing terrific songs and matching them with wildly evocative productions; furthermore, it's his lightest record in years -- it's actually fun to listen to, even with a murder ballad here and a psycho blues there. In that sense, it's a unique item in his post-Swordfish catalog, and that may make up for it not being the masterpiece it seemed like it could have been.
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