Tom Waits
Closing Time


4.5
superb

Review

by Are You A Wizard? USER (19 Reviews)
May 4th, 2010 | 34 replies | 8,536 views


Release Date: 1973 | Tracklist

Review Summary: An excellent debut laying the foundations for what would become a fantastic career for Tom Waits.

2 of 2 thought this review was well written

In 1973, a little known artist by the name of Tom Waits released his debut album, Closing Time, and, although he would go on to diversify his musical approach after a few albums due to a need to experiment more, the album serves as a window into the early workings of Waits’ musical career.

Waits essentially started out as a spit ’n’ sawdust bar singer, who would sit at the piano with his bottle of bourbon and packet of smokes and play the night away crooning about various down trodden topics but was pre-dominantly focused on the tried and true theme of women and matters of the heart. This helped to form the early stages of Waits’ vagabond, lonely man persona .

What is interesting about Closing Time is that compared to his later, more experimental material, Waits’ debut material was very much in the simple jazz/blues singer -songwriter vein. Most of the tracks on the album are lead by a combination of laid back piano lines intertwining with brass and horns topped with Waits’, as yet un-ravaged by whiskey and cigarettes (although there is an early hint of it beginning to creep in), half-sung, half-spoken vocals.

The most compelling aspect of the album is in the fact that the sparse, minimalistic tracks still manage to captivate the listener due to Waits’ story-telling ability and the empathy that can be felt with the characters and situations that his lyrics create. “I Hope That I Don’t Fall In Love With You” and “Little Trip To Heaven” are both prime examples of Waits’ ability to write about love without resulting in a cheesy, hackneyed feeling, but more in presenting a tale of a man who genuinely has these feelings and conveying them in a heartfelt manner. He achieves this both through his vocal performance and the actual lyrical content, such as this excerpt from “I Hope That I Don’t Fall In Love With You”:

Well the night does funny things inside a man
These old tom-cat feelings you don't understand,
Well I turn around to look at you, you light a cigarette,
I wish I had the guts to bum one, but we've never met,
And I hope that I don't fall in love with you.”


However the downbeat tracks are also contrasted with humorous, upbeat numbers, which help to provide the album with a little diversity. “Ice Cream Man” which begins with a misleadingly maudlin piano line but then morphs into an innuendo filled, up tempo, jazzy romp is one of the best examples of this style and an indicator of the more abstract topics and imagery Waits would later go on to create with his vaudeville themed tracks.

“Clickin' by your house about two forty-five
With Sidewalk sundae strawberry surprise,
I got a cherry popsicle right on time
I got a big stick, mamma, that'll blow your mind.”


“Ol’ ’55” is also easily one of the greatest first tracks on a debut album and serves as an immediate introduction to Waits’ tortured lyrics and delivery, as soon as the listener hears the first thirty seconds of the track; they are in no doubt that they are in for a captivating listen. It is Waits’ ability to mix and match these genre styles and provide excellent lyrical content for each mood that makes the majority of the tracks on Closing Time a joy to listen to and increases the replay value of the album. Featuring a song for any mood, the album can both be enjoyed on a warm summer’s day as well as on the wettest, dullest autumn evening and it is this that serves as testament to the natural talent and charm of Tom Waits.

The album’s production is kept to a minimum, allowing for a laidback, almost live feel, which is a great approach as it helps to give the feeling that the listener is right there in the bar or club with Waits, listening to his stories. There is a little shine put on the instruments, which are well balanced with the vocals, not to the extent that it detracts from the natural feel of the tracks but enough to provide a crisp, enjoyable listening experience.

Considering that it was his debut album, Closing Time, is an incredibly mature body of work and is an outstanding introduction to Tom Waits’ career; showing slight hints of the experimentation which was to come later in his career, as well as his natural ability for writing simplistic piano lead ballads with honest, heartfelt lyrics to match his vagabond personality. It also serves as a slightly more accessible starting point for those looking to get into Waits’ music as well as a good reference for which to compare Waits' evolution as an artist from the basic roots displayed on this album to the eccentric, eclectic performances of his later work.



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user ratings (273)
Chart.
3.9
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other reviews of this album
BlackjackChapman (4.5)
Music to drink and bemoan lost love to....


Comments:Add a Comment 
Phantom
May 4th 2010



8930 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

First review in a while due to Uni and lack of inspiration so it might be a little off.

Point out any mistakes, criticisms.

TheSpirit
May 4th 2010



17712 Comments


In the second paragraph you say "packet of cigarettes". Did you mean "pack"? Other than that good review.

Digging: Venus Star - Nigredo Expulsion

Phantom
May 4th 2010



8930 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Surely it could be either? Pack seems like slang. Still editing through and fixing little mistakes I missed in my proof reads so I'll check it.

Thanks.

TheSpirit
May 4th 2010



17712 Comments


I guess, although I've never heard of them being referred to as "packets". Anywho, i though it might have just been a typo so no big thing.

porch
May 4th 2010



8453 Comments


nice review



Phantom
May 4th 2010



8930 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

From a quick search it seems that it's an American or English thing; pack being American and Packet being English so I think it's ok to leave it as it is, but if enough people question it I'll change it.

Thanks Porch. I actually heard this one after a few of his others so that's sort of why I went for the references to what he sounded like on his later material.

Deviant.
Staff Reviewer
May 4th 2010



31085 Comments


I call them packets; nice work dude

Digging: Banks - Goddess

SlightlyEpic
May 4th 2010



5780 Comments


I only have another album who's name I can't remember by him

bone... something

it's good though aaand nice review

porch
May 4th 2010



8453 Comments


boner machine

Phantom
May 4th 2010



8930 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Bone Machine then Rain Dogs for me.

...Just.






JUMPING

kitsch
May 4th 2010



5107 Comments


rain dogs, bone machine and swordfishtrombones are all amazing. ive never heard this. ill check it out next time i listen to waits

Phantom
May 4th 2010



8930 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Yes, do it, but like I said in the review, it's slightly less experimental than the three albums you mentioned.

Roach
May 4th 2010



2149 Comments


heart waitsy


nice review, you da man

Phantom
May 4th 2010



8930 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

KANE! =D

Roach
May 4th 2010



2149 Comments


ALEX =DD=

Phantom
May 4th 2010



8930 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

just popping in to bring some class to the review site i bet

Roach
May 4th 2010



2149 Comments


and to read yo ree view

Phantom
May 4th 2010



8930 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

yesss :')



DoctorNurse
May 5th 2010



475 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

love this album. Martha is so good.

Meatplow
May 5th 2010



5524 Comments


fantastic album



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