Mule Variations review by Tom Waits

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  • Released: Apr 20, 1999
  • Sound: 9
  • Lyrics: 10
  • Overall Impression: 9
  • Reviewer's score: 9.3 Superb
  • Users' score: 9.9 (7 votes)
Tom Waits: Mule Variations

Sound — 9
I could prattle for hours, and could not even begin to describe waits sound. While this one a grammy for "best contemporary folk album" that doesn't even begin to describe it. There are folk elements, sure, but this has about every musical influence imaginable. It has jazz, rock, folk, blues, and even some industrial elements, and a few songs even have turntables on them. This also has some great music on it, such as Primus playing on the opening track, "Big in Japan."

Lyrics — 10
If I had to pick one thing that made Tom Waits truly brilliant, it would probably be his lyrics. My review here could never give Wait's lyrical credit, so I won't even try. Needless to say, they're great. They're mostly narration, and the lyrics can be compared to those of Bob Dylan and Joni Mitchell. The lyrics are stories told in as little words as possible, and those words are elegant and clever. Lines such "Well he gave her a dimestore watch, and a ring made from a spoon" so the grungy poetry and spectacular imagery he uses in his songs. Tom's voice is unique, to say the least. A critic once described it as "sounding like it was soaked in a vat of bourbon, left hanging in the smokehouse for a few months, and taken outside and run over by a car." I can't think of a better way to put it than that.

Overall Impression — 9
Overall this is one of my favorite albums. It was a sort of comeback for Waits, as it was after a five year hiatus and being on a new record label. It was also in Rolling Stone's 500 greatest albums. My favorite songs from it are "Big In Japan," "Hold On," "Chocolate Jesus," Filipino Box Spring Hog," and "Georgia Lee." This is truly a great, diverse album. I can listen to all of the songs without getting bored or irritated with them. You may not like it at first listen, but take time. It will grow on you.

2 comments sorted by best / new / date

    This review is terribly written and tells nothing about the album besides generalized statements. Summary of this review: "I like the music. I like the lyrics. I can't describe anything though, but you might like it too."