Tom Waits

Bounced Checks

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As a first stab at assembling a compilation of Tom Waits' tenure at Asylum Records, the U.K.-only Bounced Checks is a reasonable effort, though it's far from what could be done with the catalog. Apparently put together by the artist and his manager, which may help explain the absence of anything from the first album, Closing Time, it is a ten-track disc, four tracks of which are previously unreleased. There are alternate masters of "Jersey Girl" and "Whistlin' Past the Graveyard," a live performance of "The Piano Has Been Drinking," and "Mr. Henry," a leftover from the Heartattack and Vine sessions. Some of Waits' best is here. You can't argue with selections like "Tom Traubert's Blues" or the Bette Midler duet "I Never Talk to Strangers." But where are favorites like "Ol' 55" and "(Looking For) The Heart of Saturday Night"? It's probably not possible to do Waits' seven Asylum LPs justice on a single ten-track disc. But Bounced Checks is more to be sought out by hardcore Waits fans who want to own the rarities than neophytes who are looking for a best-of.

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