Mule Variations

( 2 )

Editorial Reviews

Barnes & Noble - Brett Leveridge
If Tom Waits were to start a religion, it'd no doubt qualify as a cult. Although he's attracted a small but fervent group of adherents over the past two decades, his uniquely skewed amalgam of folk, blues, rock, and Tin Pan Alley standards has mostly escaped the notice of the wide world of mainstream music. That said, there's no need to preach to the converted: MULE VARIATIONS, Waits's first album of new material in six years, offers more of the gruffly evocative vocals, clanging rhythms, and angular instrumentation that have been his stock-in-trade since the release of his groundbreaking and influential 1983 work, SWORDFISHTROMBONES. This time around, Waits ...
See more details below
CD
$9.99
BN.com price
(Save 28%)$13.99 List Price

Pick Up In Store

Reserve and pick up in 60 minutes at your local store

Other sellers (CD)
  • All (6) from $2.47   
  • New (2) from $10.97   
  • Used (4) from $2.47   

Editorial Reviews

Barnes & Noble - Brett Leveridge
If Tom Waits were to start a religion, it'd no doubt qualify as a cult. Although he's attracted a small but fervent group of adherents over the past two decades, his uniquely skewed amalgam of folk, blues, rock, and Tin Pan Alley standards has mostly escaped the notice of the wide world of mainstream music. That said, there's no need to preach to the converted: MULE VARIATIONS, Waits's first album of new material in six years, offers more of the gruffly evocative vocals, clanging rhythms, and angular instrumentation that have been his stock-in-trade since the release of his groundbreaking and influential 1983 work, SWORDFISHTROMBONES. This time around, Waits continues to break the rules and challenge the listener, not to mention his peers; this iconoclast's influence on other musicians is at once sweeping and subtle. But for those who scratch their heads at the found sounds, distorted vocals, and studio shenanigans that characterize Waits's work, it might help to think of him as a musical auteur -- songwriter, singer, and sonic sorcerer, an abstract expressionist who refuses to color within the lines. One never knows what will appear on the sonic canvas when Waits is through throwing paint, but it's always sure to be intriguing.
All Music Guide - Stephen Thomas Erlewine
Tom Waits grew steadily less prolific after redefining himself as a junkyard noise poet with Swordfishtrombones, but the five-year wait between The Black Rider and 1999's Mule Variations was the longest yet. Given the fact that Waits decided to abandon major labels for the California indie Epitaph, Mule Variations would seem like a golden opportunity to redefine himself and begin a new phase of his career. However, it plays like a revue of highlights from every album he's made since Swordfishtrombones. Of course, that's hardly a criticism; the album uses the ragged cacophony of Bone Machine as a starting point, and proceeds to bring in the songwriterly aspects of Rain Dogs, along with its affection for backstreet and backwoods blues, plus a hint of the beatnik qualities of Swordfish. So Mule Variations delivers what fans want, in terms of both songs and sonics. But that also explains why it sounds terrific on initial spins, only to reveal itself as slightly dissatisfying with subsequent plays. All of Waits' Island records felt like fully conceived albums with genuine themes. Mule Variations, in contrast, is a collection of moments, and while each of those moments is very good some even bordering on excellent, ultimately the whole doesn't equal the sum of its parts. While that may seem like nitpicking, some may have wanted a masterpiece after five years, and Mule Variations falls short of that mark. Nevertheless, this is a hell of a record by any other standard. Waits is still writing terrific songs and matching them with wildly evocative productions; furthermore, it's his lightest record in years -- it's actually fun to listen to, even with a murder ballad here and a psycho blues there. In that sense, it's a unique item in his post-Swordfish catalog, and that may make up for it not being the masterpiece it seemed like it could have been.
Read More Show Less

Product Details

  • Release Date: 4/27/1999
  • Label: Anti
  • UPC: 045778654727
  • Catalog Number: 86547
  • Sales rank: 20,734

Album Credits

Performance Credits
Tom Waits Primary Artist
Ralph Carney Reeds, Bass Clarinet, Saxophone
Smokey Hormel Guitar
Technical Credits
Tom Waits Producer
Kathleen Brennan Producer
Jacquire King Engineer, Engineering, Pro-Tools
Read More Show Less

Customer Reviews

Average Rating 5
( 2 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(2)

4 Star

(0)

3 Star

(0)

2 Star

(0)

1 Star

(0)

Your Rating:

Your Name: Create a Pen Name or

Barnes & Noble.com Review Rules

Our reader reviews allow you to share your comments on titles you liked, or didn't, with others. By submitting an online review, you are representing to Barnes & Noble.com that all information contained in your review is original and accurate in all respects, and that the submission of such content by you and the posting of such content by Barnes & Noble.com does not and will not violate the rights of any third party. Please follow the rules below to help ensure that your review can be posted.

Reviews by Our Customers Under the Age of 13

We highly value and respect everyone's opinion concerning the titles we offer. However, we cannot allow persons under the age of 13 to have accounts at BN.com or to post customer reviews. Please see our Terms of Use for more details.

What to exclude from your review:

Please do not write about reviews, commentary, or information posted on the product page. If you see any errors in the information on the product page, please send us an email.

Reviews should not contain any of the following:

  • - HTML tags, profanity, obscenities, vulgarities, or comments that defame anyone
  • - Time-sensitive information such as tour dates, signings, lectures, etc.
  • - Single-word reviews. Other people will read your review to discover why you liked or didn't like the title. Be descriptive.
  • - Comments focusing on the author or that may ruin the ending for others
  • - Phone numbers, addresses, URLs
  • - Pricing and availability information or alternative ordering information
  • - Advertisements or commercial solicitation

Reminder:

  • - By submitting a review, you grant to Barnes & Noble.com and its sublicensees the royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable right and license to use the review in accordance with the Barnes & Noble.com Terms of Use.
  • - Barnes & Noble.com reserves the right not to post any review -- particularly those that do not follow the terms and conditions of these Rules. Barnes & Noble.com also reserves the right to remove any review at any time without notice.
  • - See Terms of Use for other conditions and disclaimers.
Search for Products You'd Like to Recommend

Recommend other products that relate to your review. Just search for them below and share!

Create a Pen Name

Your Pen Name is your unique identity on BN.com. It will appear on the reviews you write and other website activities. Your Pen Name cannot be edited, changed or deleted once submitted.

 
Your Pen Name can be any combination of alphanumeric characters (plus - and _), and must be at least two characters long.

Continue Anonymously
Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted May 18, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted February 29, 2012

    No text was provided for this review.

Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews