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Bert vanC Bailey
- Publicado en Amazon.com
Formato: CD de audio
"Bad as Me" is Waits's most musical album. Few signs here of his grungy, Partch-like, recorded-in-a-chicken-coop ventures, for all the appeal of that dragged-through-a-boneyard material. These thirteen songs are all in the 3-minute range; not one's over four-and-a-half minutes long. One even clocks in at 2 minutes short, and none outstays its welcome.
This is well-developed, even unusually burnished music, and in clear sound. There's plenty of the customary howling at the moon, but the sentiments are equally rich in depth, levity, wit and craft. At least in being one of his best-finished collections, "Bad as Me" outshines "Mule Variations," "Blue Valentine," or ...pick your fave.
Yet it's still the same old Waits, parlaying his Satchmo caterwaul to the hilt, reeling off various voices: the stumbling wino ("Last Leaf on the Tree"; "Face To The Highway"), a shambling Howlin' Wolf ("Chicago"), and a brogue Leonard Cohen to welcome New Year's Eve. Smokey Robinson's falsetto is invoked, of course minus any sweetness, in Everybody's "Talking at the Same Time," while, bewildered, he watches his girl leave, "...and there's no more `next time'."
So this is a winner for its wide musical range: from calypso/ranchero ("Back in the Crowd") to a cool vocal bounce that livens some otherwise tired lines ("You're never going to be without me, baby, I'm never going to be without you"). There is a decidedly un-plaintive "Get Lost" that's galaxies from Chet Baker's despair-filled song of like title; and in "Satisfied" Waits takes a wonderful go at rockabilly, with organ phrasings recalling "99 Tears," a '60s hit by ? and the Mysterians. While the whip in Waits's yelp saves some forgettable lines, he cries into his drink to convey convoluted, even atrophied sentiments ("...kiss me like a stranger once again"). Women who'd as soon retch at his grungy invitation for them to "Kiss Me" will no doubt spot the gruff, Kid Shelleen-like veneer masking those wistful longings.
All told, though, Waits is Waits, and here as ever we are treated to his take on the raunchy and raucous, such as in "Satisfied." In his brief opener, (Maybe things will be better in) "Chicago," he channels the longings for something better of down-and-out sharecroppers--not to mention yours and mine. "Raised Right Men" sounds by turns near-comical and outraged, virtually inventing a genre unto itself with a quasi-feminist lament about the dearth of righteous men--those, that is, who can keep "a happy hen." Complexity is never far from Waits, and the CD's eponymous track again evokes joy and surprise both, as he's found someone who partakes of his own, essential stuff: badness ...no doubt for want of a better term for his raving self.
The closest we get to serious is in the soul-tearing yet understated "Face to the Highway." Again, nothing comes plain or direct when he declares he's about to "...turn my face to the highway, I'll turn my back on you." A reason never emerges, but his longings are likened to the sky wanting a bird, the ocean a sailor, a clock wanting time as the walls of a prison want a solitary man. Moving ways to allude to gut-level yearning.
Keith Richards adds sharp musical contours on the opening track, "Hell Broke Luce" and "Satisfied," as well as backing vocals to "Last Leaf (on the Tree)." This lament is no "You've Got the Silver," but its affecting paean, its wail at the merciless wheels of time, invokes much the same eternal spaces.
Waits's masterpiece, so strongly recommended.
Caveat emptor: Three "bonus" tracks can be had only on the CD's deluxe and digital deluxe versions; just how these differ eludes me, but so said his site, in response to my inquiry. Contrived on the CD's release, it presumes that those who buy jazz, rock or classical CDs will forget that bonus tracks are post-inception afterthoughts - and hardly money-grabs to get fans to buy the item twice. A cheap trick, accounting for my four stars, not five.