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Monday, November 27th, 2006

Orphans gets another 5 star review!

TOM WAITS - Orphans (ANTI-) Rating: ***** I’ve always hoped that Tom Waits would one day follow Dolly Parton’s lead and open his own amusement park. What better place to enjoy his music than a place where the night never ends, the Ferris wheel attendant is permanently smashed on rot-gut whisky, the vomit is authentic and kids under eight smoke for free? In lieu of that entertainment option comes Orphans, a 56-song set of new recordings, rarities and other songs that, in the bard’s own words, “fell behind the stove while making dinner.”

Defying the odds-and-sods nature of most such collections, Orphans feels like something more monumental. With its freewheeling, free-ranging track selection, Orphans revisits just about every style Waits has tried his hand at, an aesthetic strategy that suits him better than the more restricted palette of Real Gone or Blood Money. Likewise, the three discs’ respective categories — Brawlers, Bawlers and Bastards — turn out to be largely arbitrary. Covers of Phil Phillips’ “Sea of Love” and the Ramones’ “The Return of Jackie and Judy” sidle up next to heartbreaking ballads like “If I Have to Go” and full-throttle rockers on the order of “2:19.” Song for song, Waits’ batting average here bests Ty Cobb’s — special mention must go to the Beefheartian beatboxing on “All the Time,” the hilariously bleak “Children’s Story” and the already oft-discussed “Road to Peace,” in which Waits weighs in on the cycle of violence in the Middle East only to conclude that God needs a little help. A few grand-opening passes to Tom’s Funtime Emporium would probably perk Him up, too. JA

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