Tom Waits: Under Review 1971-1982 * * * *

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Chances are, if your a Waits fan then you’ll want to, or will have already checked out this documentary. It follows his career from his demo tapes to his first studio album “Closing Time” with producer David Geffen, through his long collaboration with jazz engineer ‘Bones’ Howe, ending with the album “Heartattack and Vine” before Waits’ style changed completely.

The influences on him are also looked at, from his love of jazz to Jack Kerouac and the ‘beat’ generation.
Its packed full of interviews and anecdotes from people who worked with Waits and about the tenuous comparisons with his contemporaries John Prine, Bruce Springsteen and Bob Dylan. Sadly, it doesn’t shed very much light on the man himself (at least not much that a Waits fan wouldn’t already know) and although there is some nice footage of Waits being interviewed throughout the 70’s, there is no interview with him directly. We don’t get to hear his opinion on his wonderful albums throughout the 70’s era and his troubador style. It does show archival footage though, of live performances of some of his best songs throughout this time like, “Tom Traubert’s Blues”, “Kentucky Avenue” and “Small Change”, leaving you wanting more and heading straight for ‘You Tube’ to listen to the whole song.

For fans of the old Tomcat, it’s a nostalgic chance to revisit the lounge lizards early musical genius. For people new to him, it’s a nice introduction to his wonderfully original talents.

Mark Walker

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