SOUNDTRACK: TOM WAITS-Glitter and Doom Live (2009).
Sarah bought me Tom Waits’s 3 disc collection for Christmas last year and I was sure it would be another Waits Xmas since this was nicely timed for an under the tree gift. But no! I had to buy this one myself (she says she forgot, but as punishment I may just make her listen to this one).
It’s a two disc set. The first is a collection of live tracks from all over the world (well actually Birmingham, Edinburgh, Tulsa, Knoxville, Milan, Jacksonville, Paris, Dublin, Atlanta and Columbus–a strange Western Europe-Southern U.S. Tour, apparently).
I’ve never seen Tom live, although I have seen videos from Big Time. And this is the first batch of live tracks I’ve heard in these latter days of his career. And I have to say he sounds great. The gravel in his throat is thick and gritty, yet he still hits all the notes. And while his studio tracks are full of all kinds of cool instrumentation and embellishments, the spare live band (who sound fantastic) shows that his songs are great even without the bells and whistles.
The funny thing to me is how “Dirt in the Ground” an older song that I love sounds so very different, even though Tom’s voice isn’t all that different. Of course, he plays some even older tracks that are totally reworked. And they sound great, too. This all keeps the tracks fluid and seamless, and while the older tracks wouldn’t sound dated anyhow, it makes them all sound new.
Disc Two is a 35 minute track called “Tom’s Tales.” It is a spliced together “story” of all the interstitial talking bits that Tom throws into his shows. There’s jokes, there’s stories, there’s nonsense, and it’s all good fun. For all his dour music, he;s quite a funny performer. It’ll probably get one or two plays at most, but it’s certainly fun to listen to.
I just read a review of the disc that complains about the separation of music and talk. And I see the critic’s point: cutting out the banter removes an essential part of Tom’s shows, while having all the talking bits together kind of dooms that disc to be listened to only once or twice.
While I agree with the sentiment, I’m not sure about the musical disc lacking something without the banter. While it would be fun to have it in there, there is something nice about having just the music. (And of course, there is one tale tacked on like an encore break (and one song at the end of the music disc, too). It keeps the flow very solid and makes for an excellent song collection.
It’s a great place to find out what Tom has been up to on the last half dozen or so albums.
[READ: January 17, 2010] Ground Zero
Trade paperback #2 of Hopeless Savages collects the entire second series, with a few extras thrown in (and a very nice introduction). And while I enjoyed the first series, Ground Zero is leaps and bounds more sophisticated and satisfying. Even the title is a pun, what with Zero, the youngest Hopeless-Savage being grounded for most of the story.
The main focus is Zero’s burgeoning romance. She is mostly off the boys at her school (typical comment: Your name is Skank, you must be easy), until she meets a boy in her science class who totally impresses her. He’s named Ginger, after Ginger Baker, nice touch there. And in a flashback we learn that although she hasn’t paid him any attention, he has loved her for years since their first accidental meeting.
I’m going to quote from Andrew Wheeler’s introduction because he sums up exactly what I think of the story: “It tells us that the most courageous thing of all is simply to fall in love. The bravest thing to do is to place your heart in someone else’s hand.” And that hits the nail on the head. Pretty good for a comic book.
There is a subplot which is a wonderful jab at Where Are They Now type shows. The Hopeless-Savage family is going to have a TV expose on a Not MTV network. And the producer is looking for something really juicy. But frankly, the family isn’t all that juicy. There’s a bit of that punks in proper society stuff in this story, but really they just come across as fairly normal (with a bit of a past).
It just happens that Zero’s boy crisis/grounding takes place during the filming. And, when she explains to the TV guy what’s got her upset, she is naïve enough not to realize she’s being filmed. And she cannot let that video go out on TV (which is going to be hard to accomplish if she’s grounded). Oh, and her band is scheduled to play the homecoming dance too!
The Zero-Ginger romance is fantastic and very real. And best of all is the advice she gets is from her brother, Twitch. What is so wonderful about the Twitch character is that he is gay, but nobody acts any differently towards him. And his advice is so heart renderingly beautiful, it should soften the heart of anyone. Especially when his tale of personal sadness if dealt with near the end.
And the art is just so much better in this book. Bryan Lee O’Malley has a great punk rock cartoon look. Zero just looks wonderfully pissed and dark-eyed through his pages. But, if you look at the title of this post, you’ll see that the illustrators are like an all-star group of Oni Press artists. Andi Watson does some typically gorgeous flashbacks of Nikki Savage as a young lass. Strangely, Christine Norrie does a flashback in Chapter Two and I adore the art in it. I say strangely because she illustrated the first book and I didn’t care for the art at all. But she adds a wonderful innocence to Zero in her first meeting with Ginger, and a delicate line that I didn’t think she possessed after the first book. And, of course, there’s a fun flashback by Clugston-Major, perennial favorite of mine.
Terry Dodson also adds illustrated chapter breaks. And these pictures totally mess with my head. He draws Zero much older and much hotter than anyone else does. So it’s a little disconcerting. There’s also talk of Zero being 18, and in my head, I think she’s much younger than that. I don’t know if that’s what I got from the first story or what, but 18 seems too old somehow. But Dodson’s drawings make 18 seem very likely.
This whole book was perfect, from story to art to lettering to the amusing bios and bonus sketches in the back. It’s a totally swerval package.