Tom Waits
Foreign Affairs



by Alucard125 USER (9 Reviews)
March 13th, 2011 | 8 replies

Release Date: 1977 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Often overlooked, Foreign Affairs is a fine addition to Waits' impressive discography.

Upon seeing the cover to 1977’s Foreign Affairs, one could be forgiven for expecting a much darker and brooding experience than Waits’ previous effort, the alcohol-laced Small Change. However, the opening instrumental ‘Cinny’s Waltz’ instantly dispels this idea, introducing the listener to a beautiful orchestral piece fronted by Waits’ piano. The rest of the album is a fresh but much safer approach to the music Waits was known for early in his career.

Vocally, Waits has perfected his deeper growl of a voice, no longer the unpredictable beast as its drunken counterpart had been in Small Change. Mixed with the smooth style he implemented on The Heart of Saturday Night, it’s a perfect complement to the relaxing new direction his music had taken.

The album is full of overlooked treasures, including the highly entertaining ‘I Never Talk To Strangers’. This track is almost a foresight to 1982’s One From The Heart soundtrack; the way Waits’ lyrics bounce off of the responses of guest singer Bette Midler makes it clear why he was chosen to perform the score to the movie. ‘Muriel’ is a welcome return to the style of love song that appeared in the form of ‘Rosie’ and ‘Martha’ on Closing Time, with reminiscent lyrics and soothing saxophone to accompany. ‘Barber Shop’ is a fun piece with a catchy bass line and containing the ridiculous lyrics and great delivery which have appeared in of many his tracks before.

The album suffers a slight slump just after the halfway point, with tracks ‘A Sight For Sore Eyes’ and ‘Burma Shave’ leaving little lasting impression, whilst ‘Potter’s Field’ drags on just a little too long, ruining its otherwise entertaining cinematic effect. However, these flaws are quickly excused after the final track ‘Foreign Affairs’ is heard; a memorable piano piece amongst Waits’ finest to date.

Foreign Affairs does a great job of following up a respected album such as Small Change. Waits has never made the same album twice, and each record he makes mixes his many talents in new and exciting ways each time. It doesn’t require your full attention to enjoy, yet becomes even more enjoyable when given the time. Foreign Affairs is certain not to disappoint those fans of his earlier jazz and blues works, and is the perfect introduction to the vast improvement made on Blue Valentine.

Recommended Tracks:
Cinny's Waltz/Muriel
I Never Talk To Strangers
Foreign Affairs

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A legend in the making, gets his feelings out with the beauty and grace of a drunkard, with the styl...

Comments:Add a Comment 
March 13th 2011


nice review...a little concise but that really doesn't retract anything from it.

gotta love Waits, just seems like a guy I'd love to sit in a pub and shoot the shit with.

Staff Reviewer
March 14th 2011


well written, have a pos.

i was looking at this album yesterday and it didn't have a review.

Thanks to you, now it does. Good job.

Digging: Fleurety - The White Death

March 14th 2011


Album Rating: 3.5

Cheers guys. Yeah its a little short, but I thought it was all that was needed. The album is short, simply and great fun.

Ive been going through his work for the past year now, listening in chronological order. Just started Blue Valentine yesterday, it's wonderful.

Digging: Circa Survive - The Amulet

March 14th 2011


Album Rating: 3.0

Nice review. Barbershop is one of my favourite Waits' tunes.

Edit: I did the chronological order thing for his albums last year. Some of his songs are just

frighteningly good. Also, Mystery Men was on the TV last night. It reminded that he's a good actor


Activista anti-MTV
October 1st 2011


Album Rating: 3.5

I Never Talk to Strangers is classic Waits

Activista anti-MTV
November 29th 2011


Album Rating: 3.5

I enjoyed the review. It's very short, but you covered everything that there is to cover! Never say two words when one word will do... nice.

September 26th 2013


^why is this guy such a great user fuck

Digging: Weezer - Pacific Daydream

October 16th 2015


Album Rating: 3.5

Underrated ever so slightly

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