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Real Gone

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There have been many incarnations of Tom Waits--the boozy piano balladeer, the arch Kurt Weill acolyte, the bold sonic experimentalist--but the one that pops up on REAL GONE is probably most akin to the raw, howling, modern primitive of BONE MACHINE. As he did on that 1992 album, Waits gets in touch with his inner Captain Beefheart on REAL GONE. Instead of employing arrangements that merely suggest the accompaniment of a FAT ALBERT-style junkyard band, Waits actually sounds like he's hooting and hollering in the middle of a Salvation Army scrapyard, albeit one populated by junkmen with an inherent simpatico for his medium.

The absence of piano is significant--Waits's jazzy harmonic underpinning is entirely dismantled here, leaving only the most basic, blues-oriented structures atop which Waits hangs his distinctive poetic imagery, at once surreal and highly detailed. There's an overwhelming sense of darkness ("How's It Gonna End," "Dead and Lovely"), but there are also moments of pure unfettered glee "Metropolitan Glide," "Shake It"), which are often goosed along by Waits's son Casey on turntables and percussion. A perennial romantic, Waits does let in a little melodic sunshine on the poignant closing ballad, "Day After Tomorrow," but for the most part, REAL GONE is a deliriously wild ride.

What the critics say...

Rolling Stone (p.98) - 3 stars out of 5 - "The core of REAL GONE, actually, is gospel music flipped inside out - an unholy voice, singing about the conspicuous absence of divine mercy."
Spin (p.118) - "[With] roadhouse guitar and scratchy bass...anchoring it all with his primal, bellowing tales of woe." - Grade: A-
Spin (p.64) - Ranked #27 in Spin's "40 Best Albums of the Year"
Entertainment Weekly (p.114) - "[T]he sometimes jaunty rhythms add tension to Waits' dark tales....The effect is often riveting..." - Grade: B+
Uncut (p.110) - 3 stars out of 5 - "Waits is still taking more risks than most US' singer-songwriters' of his generation, and parts of this album rock righteously....One from the heart..."
Uncut (p.74) - Ranked #11 in Uncut's "Best New Albums of 2004" - "Scarily magnificent."
Magnet (p.66) - Ranked #1 in Magnet's "The 20 Best Albums Of 2004" - "REAL GONE is a great record because Waits' homesteader's heart drives it form intro to fadeout."
The Wire (p.50) - "This is classic Waits....It's certainly his most outwardly guileless and full-hearted record for some time..."
Mojo (Publisher) (p.110) - 4 stars out of 5 - "As a songwriter and sound sculptor, Waits is intimately familiar with shadows and dread - the frank, poetic details of life and love on the margins....REAL GONE is his first, full-tilt protest record."
Release date Australia
October 5th, 2004
Anti (USA)
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