“Bone Machine” - Tom Waits

Well, this is a special one for me.  I picked it up a while back, although I was pretty much resigned to the fact that if I was ever going to own it, it would cost me plenty… $25 was an absolute steal.  90s vinyl is just this side of vapourware most of the time, ya dig?  Mostly pressed overseas somewhere (this was made in Germany) and never really ending up to often in North America, although most places would still special order it for you into their shops if you asked nicely and didn’t mind paying up front.

Regardless, this was the first Tom Waits album I owned (on CD of course), so I sort of started with the heavier, more challenging stuff long before I was ever exposed to the cartoonish-dive-bar-pianist-down-on-his-luck (except for “A Little Rain”, one of the most beautiful songs written by anyone at anytime; I remember it as the closer, but it’s not…).  It won the `92 Grammy for best alternative release (as, I suppose, it was an alternative to virtually everything other than Waits himself).  

Borrowed from Wikipedia:

Bone Machine was recorded and produced entirely at the Prairie Sun Recording studios in Cotati, California in a room of Studio C now known as “the Waiting Room,” in the old cement hatchery rooms of the cellar of the buildings.

Mark “Mooka” Rennick, Prairie Sun studio chief said:

[Waits] gravitated toward these “echo” rooms and created the Bone Machine aural landscape. […] What we like about Tom is that he is a musicologist. And he has a tremendous ear. His talent is a national treasure.

Waits said of the bare-bones studio, “I found a great room to work in, it’s just a cement floor and a hot water heater. Okay, we’ll do it here. It’s got some good echo.”

I gravitated to the recording after watching the video for “I Don’t Wanna Grow Up” on MuchMusic.  I though, “Who the hell is this guy?!?”.  The sparse, weirdo video and lofi gravel voice were an instant hook.  He’s on my list of performers I absolutely have to see at some point.