Tom Waits – Orphans and other Grails

I consider myself a very lucky man.  It is a great fortune to discover something you truly enjoy, (in my case the music of Tom Waits), but it is a winning lotto ticket to be able to amass an absurd collection of his finest works for your own library.

An enormous box arrived in the post today containing most of the titles missing from my Tom Waits collection, most notably one of my elusive grails – a mint, unplayed copy of the massive Orphans – Brawlers, Bawlers & Bastards 7LP set.  This monumental box set contains 62 “orphaned” selections which never made it on to his major album releases.  The six tracks on the final disc are exclusive to the vinyl release, and I can’t wait to drink them in.

Tom Waits - Orphans 7LP set, RSD 7in, Lowside of the Road, Under Review DVD

Tom Waits – Orphans 7LP set, the Record Store Day 7 inch, Lowside of the Road: A Life of Tom Waits, and the Under Review DVD

Don’t think for a second that these are merely disused cutting-room-floor tracks which were omitted with good reason – every song from this incredible collection is just as fantastic as any of his best-loved hits, from the gritty gospel blues Tom delivers on “Lord I’ve Been Changed” to the back-porch foot stomper, “Buzz Fledderjohn” to the relentless rhythms of “2:19.”  This is one of the proudest additions to my library in my entire history as a record collector.

The set is accompanied by an oversize book, and each 180g disc is housed in a newsprint sleeve jam-packed with antique-typewritten factoids a la “News of the Weird.”

It’s sets like this which remind me why I haven’t given up on physical media in exchange for the incredible convenience and portability of digital.  As a man with nearly 13,000 albums I wholly embrace high-bitrate lossless audio for its many accolades, but damn, nothing comes close to the experience of dropping the needle on one of these LPs and spending hours poring over the liner notes and companion book.

My outstanding fortune relating to Tom Waits began when I walked into The Bop Shop in Rochester, NY and learned that the owner had just purchased a nearly-complete Tom Waits collection.  Each disc had been purchased upon release, played once to rip digitally, and carefully shelved by its owner.  I didn’t hesitate for a single second and bought the whole lot on the spot.

Tom Waits Collection - Albums

And to make my evening ever BETTER – I’ve now added Blood Money, Alice, and Mule Variations to my Tom collection.

Thanks, Tom for all your wonderfully weird music.  You are indeed one of a kind.