While I consider myself a big Tom Waits fan, I confess I'm not as familiar with his earlier work as with his "classic period" (the 80s through the mid-90s). He debuted in 1973 with "Closing Time" and made 6 more albums for Asylum Records, culminating with "Heartattack and Vine." He switched to Island Records and embraced more avant-garde influences, including Captain Beefheart and Weimar-era Germany. His 70s albums always feel like they were recorded in smoky, L.A. dive bar at 11:00 at night, where Waits is playing as much for himself as for the few drunks there. Bukowski and the Beats feel like big influences during these years. Anyway, "Blue Valentine" his penultimate album for Asylum, released in 1978, and well worth checking out for a different side of Waits. "Somewhere" is a somewhat unlikely, but charming cover of a song from "West Side Story."
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