The previous Waits Under Review led us to a jumping-off point of such excitement that part two couldn’t come fast enough. What better than a look at some of the weirdest, most continually inventive work from a once faintly traditional singer-songwriter? In today’s terms it would be like Ryan Adams shaving his eyebrows and returning with an album recorded using doorbells of different pitches.
This, however, largely drains it of its excitement and magic. The problem for anyone picking apart Waits’ career from hereon in is that it’s also the time when he really locked everything down and recorded in a bubble. As such, there’s little in the way of willing participants other than the usual talking heads on singer-songwriter based Under Reviews, and it’s incredibly dry. The fact that each prefaces a lot of what they say with “As Tom told me when I interviewed him…” starts to make the whole thing seem a bit more like one-upmanship. That it closes by mentioning Tom Waits’ forthcoming Orphans set, which was released over a year ago, is shoddy.
If you’ve got a good Waits biography (try Patrick Humphries’, who comes off quite well here) and a handful of bootlegs, you won’t need this.