The 16-track Used Songs: 1973-1980 surveys Tom Waits' early years on Asylum, serving as a sort of prequel to the 1998 anthology of the iconic singer/songwriter's later Island tenure, Beautiful Maladie

The 16-track Used Songs: 1973-1980 surveys Tom Waits' early years on Asylum, serving as a sort of prequel to the 1998 anthology of the iconic singer/songwriter's later Island tenure, Beautiful Maladies. Rather than the cracked genius of the wild, Weimar-channeling Island material or the rural experimentalism of Waits' 1999 Epitaph set, Mule Variations, Used Songs captures the artist as a bard of the barstool, spinning out beer- and tear-stained balladry and tales of beat-versed noir. The track list varies from the 1985 Elektra import compilation Asylum Years, although such favorites as "Tom Traubert's Blues," "Jersey Girl," and "(Looking for) The Heart of a Saturday Night" are also here, as is the slashing, six-string R&B of "Heartattack and Vine." Among the offbeat inclusions is "Christmas Card From a Hooker in Minneapolis." It's all utterly individual—to the point where this disc should be considered merely an introduction, not a substitute, for the full albums.—BB

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