Like its predecessor, The Early Years, Vol. 2 consists of demos recorded by Tom Waits in 1971, two years before he released his debut album, Closing Time. "Hope I Don't Fall in Love With You," "Ol' 55," "Grapefruit Moon," and "Old Shoes" later turned up on that album, while "Shiver Me Timbers," "Diamonds on My Windshield," and "Please Call Me Baby" appeared on Waits' second album, The Heart of Saturday Night, in 1974. The release of the two Early Years albums demonstrates that Waits' better early material made it onto his regular releases -- the previously unreleased stuff, while interesting, is not as good. And since Waits' albums were not overproduced, the main difference between these versions and the familiar ones is that the familiar ones are better. Still, Waits fans will enjoy hearing, for example, "Ol' 55" performed in a higher key and with an acoustic guitar backing.
AllMusic Review by William Ruhlmann