Tom Waits

Foreign Affairs

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Tom Waits gives one side of his fifth album, Foreign Affairs, to his more structured, bluesy ballads and the other to his jazz raps. On side one, you get his duet with Bette Midler on the singles-bar dialogue "I Never Talk to Strangers" and his take on his Beat predecessors Jack Kerouac and Neal Cassidy on "Jack & Neal." On side two, you find the extended observations of "Potter's Field" and "Burma-shave." Waits' voice is becoming ever more gravelly, but his basic musical approach remaines the same, and by this point he'd attracted a steady cult audience that enjoyed his verbal flights and boozy philosopher persona, even as critics began to complain that he was repeating himself.

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