Bone Machine

( 5 )

Editorial Reviews

All Music Guide - Steve Huey
Perhaps Tom Waits' most cohesive album, Bone Machine is a morbid, sinister nightmare, one that applied the quirks of his experimental '80s classics to stunningly evocative -- and often harrowing -- effect. In keeping with the title's grotesque image of the human body, Bone Machine is obsessed with decay and mortality, the ease with which earthly existence can be destroyed. The arrangements are accordingly stripped of all excess flesh; the very few, often non-traditional instruments float in distinct separation over the clanking junkyard percussion that dominates the record. It's a chilling, primal sound made all the more otherworldly or, perhaps, underworldly by Waits' raspy...
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Editorial Reviews

All Music Guide - Steve Huey
Perhaps Tom Waits' most cohesive album, Bone Machine is a morbid, sinister nightmare, one that applied the quirks of his experimental '80s classics to stunningly evocative -- and often harrowing -- effect. In keeping with the title's grotesque image of the human body, Bone Machine is obsessed with decay and mortality, the ease with which earthly existence can be destroyed. The arrangements are accordingly stripped of all excess flesh; the very few, often non-traditional instruments float in distinct separation over the clanking junkyard percussion that dominates the record. It's a chilling, primal sound made all the more otherworldly or, perhaps, underworldly by Waits' raspy falsetto and often-distorted roars and growls. Matching that evocative power is Waits' songwriting, which is arguably the most consistently focused it's ever been. Rich in strange and extraordinarily vivid imagery, many of Waits' tales and musings are spun against an imposing backdrop of apocalyptic natural fury, underlining the insignificance of his subjects and their universally impending doom. Death is seen as freedom for the spirit, an escape from the dread and suffering of life in this world -- which he paints as hellishly bleak, full of murder, suicide, and corruption. The chugging, oddly bouncy beats of the more uptempo numbers make them even more disturbing -- there's a detached nonchalance beneath the horrific visions. Even the narrator of the catchy, playful "I Don't Wanna Grow Up" seems hopeless in this context, but that song paves the way for the closer "That Feel," an ode to the endurance of the human soul with ultimate survivor Keith Richards on harmony vocals. The more upbeat ending hardly dispels the cloud of doom hanging over the rest of Bone Machine, but it does give the listener a gentler escape from that terrifying sonic world. All of it adds up to Waits' most affecting and powerful recording, even if it isn't his most accessible.
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Product Details

  • Release Date: 9/8/1992
  • Label: Island
  • UPC: 731451258022
  • Catalog Number: 512580
  • Sales rank: 30,087

Album Credits

Performance Credits
Tom Waits Primary Artist, Primary Artist, Guitar, Percussion, Piano, Keyboards, Stick, Vocals, chamberlain
Ralph Carney Bass Clarinet, Alto Saxophone, Tenor Saxophone
Larry Taylor Bass
Brain Drums
Kathleen Brennan Percussion, Stick
Les Claypool Bass, Electric Bass
Joe Gore Guitar
David Hidalgo Violin, Accordion
Joe Marquez Banjo, Percussion, Stick
Keith Richards Guitar, Vocals
Richard Wachtel Guitar, Guitar
David Phillips Steel Guitar
Technical Credits
Tom Waits Producer
Tchad Blake Engineer
Joe Blaney Engineer
Kathleen Brennan Producer
Biff Dawes Engineer
Bill Dawes Engineer
Joe Marquez Producer, Engineer
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 5 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(3)

4 Star

(1)

3 Star

(1)

2 Star

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1 Star

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Sort by: Showing all of 5 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted October 1, 2010

    clank and boom and steam

    This is perhaps my favorite album ever, by anyone. Some say it's less accessible than other Tom Waits, but I'm not so sure. Coming from the background of an alt-rock fan, I was more immediately attracted to stuff like this than to Waits' early work. There are a number of raucous percussion-driven tracks here, but also a few moving ballads. Some people will like the ballads if not for the vocals, but I think Waits' delivery keeps them from being overly sentimental. I'm not sure if I can put together all of the lyrics, but there are a lot of great lines. The last verse of A Little Rain kills me ("She was 15 years old...").

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 1, 2010

    Essential

    Can't say enought good things about Bone Machine. Incredibly evocative and poetic, it's one of Tom Waits' most cohesive albums. So impressive, both lyrically and musically. The tone is dark and morbid (just take a gander at the song titles) but it covers very universal themes. There is a lot of severe, industrial-sounding stuff like Earth Died Screaming, Such a Scream, and In the Colosseum, but also very melodic, country-ish tunes like A Little Rain and Whistle Down the Wind. Overall this is fascinating, primal, earthy, challenging music. Bone Machine is a shining example of why Tom Waits is often regarded as one of music's finest.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 11, 2009

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted May 18, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted October 26, 2008

    No text was provided for this review.

Sort by: Showing all of 5 Customer Reviews