If you're not a Tom Waits fan already, you may not want to start with this one. Mule Variations
is a percussive-heavy collection of beautiful short stories.
The first tune, Big in Japan
, features Larry Lalonde and Les Claypool of Primus. It jumps out at you right from the start, and never lets up. From there, get ready for a muscial romp through jazz, blues, and gospel territory.
Other musicians featured on the disc are John Hammond, Charlie Musslewhite (harmonica), and Joe Gore (former Guitar Player
editor). Also, longtime Waits sideman Marc Ribot contributes his unique fretwork on several numbers. His slightly "out-of-whack" lead work matches Waits' tunes perfectly.
It's music that's hard to describe, and not always immedaitely accessible. I like it.