50 Unheralded Albums from 2011

Tom Waits: Bad as MeTom WaitsBad as Me (Anti-, 10/18/11)

Tom Waits: “Bad as Me”

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Few musicians are as cloaked in mythology as Tom Waits. His music is both comforting and jarring, pushing boundaries while always honoring the legacy of American songwriting. Bad As Me, Waits’ first studio album in seven years, is all of these things. The songs oscillate between manic and maudlin, flip-flopping throughout the entire album. Where a Depression-era blues tune ends, a ballad begins.

There are multiple references throughout, the most obvious of which is when Waits calls out Mick Jagger and Keith Richards on “Satisfied.” The punch line of the joke is that Richards is playing guitar on the track. And he’s not the album’s only superstar. Flea plays bass; so does Les ClaypoolMarc Ribot, who’s played with Waits since 1985, lends his Latin-infused guitar licks to just about every tune. And Waits’ son, Casey, plays drums, emerging here as a versatile musician in his own right.

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