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Beautiful Maladies - The Island Years

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Album Review

Tom Waits' brilliance is messy — he has so many ideas that sometimes unrealized songs are juxtaposed with moments of greatness on his albums. That may make for the occasional uneven record, but each album has its own distinct tone that makes it a unique listening experience, whether it's a masterpiece or a missed opportunity. And that's the reason why his work, especially his sprawling Island albums, doesn't easily lend itself to retrospectives like Beautiful Maladies: The Island Years. The single disc features 22 tracks from Swordfishtrombones, Rain Dogs, Franks Wild Years, Big Time, Bone Machine, and The Black Rider, including such familiar and celebrated items as "Hang on St. Christopher," "Innocent When You Dream," "I Don't Wanna Grow Up," "16 Shells From a Thirty-Ought Six," and "Downtown Train." Some fans might spot missing favorites, but it's hard to fault the selections themselves. Because of this, Beautiful Maladies functions as a primer for neophytes. The collection may not give the full scope of Waits' talents, but for the curious, it works well as a sampler.

Customer Reviews

Perfect Beginning

This is the perfect record for anyone who isn't familiar with Tom Waits or the perfect soundtrack for an f-d up artist to paint and drink to...

Perfect Album If you Are Getting To Know Tom Waits

Tom Waits is among the greatest American songwriters and certainly story-tellers. His music is vibrant, filled with vivid imagery, eschewed harmonies, and occasionally can be pretty creepy in an old hollywood b-movie way. Beautiful Maladies is a compilation of some of the songs he did when he was on theIsland Records label. Its filled with great tunes, strange love songs, and tales from the dark side of town. You will end up buying each of the albums individually because they are all uniquely excellent but do yourself a favor and start here if your unfamiliar with Tom Waits. Beautiful Maladies is the perfect introduction into the lurid and strange world of Tom Waits. I guarantee your next album will be Rain Dogs!

the musical context is shot in this compilation

Buy the individual albums of Swordfishtrombone, Rain Dogs and Frank's Wild will be much happier than this sliced and diced up material. This is very wonderful material but the musical vision carried forth on each album is sacrificed. Those three albums are so much better with their songs in their respective places. 'Riveting' would be a better word for this moment in Tom Waits career.


Born: December 7, 1949 in Pomona, CA

Genre: Rock

Years Active: '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

In the 1970s, Tom Waits combined a lyrical focus on desperate, low-life characters with a persona that seemed to embody the same lifestyle, which he sang about in a raspy, gravelly voice. From the '80s on, his work became increasingly theatrical as he moved into acting and composing. Growing up in Southern California, Waits attracted the attention of manager Herb Cohen, who also handled Frank Zappa, and was signed by him at the beginning of the 1970s, resulting in the material later released as The...
Full Bio