Alice CD (2004)

Artist: Tom Waits

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Product Overview

One of the most distinctive of Tom Waits' creations, Alice occupies its own corner of the odd-angled room that is Tom Waits' body of work. While there are the familiar parts--the redoubtable ragged voice, jazz ballads and poignant musings on death and longing--the whole is strange and exotic. A devastatingly beautiful atmosphere made of sorrow and reverie, insanity and resignation, rises like a mist in Alice. It's a lyrical melancholia, a feeling that creeps in on the arms of Stroh violins and unabashed poetry. These are songs to fall into, and sometimes, to keep falling. There are fragile, haunted musings and laments, mad ruminations, tales of unrequited love and anthems from beyond the grave. "Alice," says Waits, "is adult songs for children, or children's songs for adults. It's a maelstrom or fever-dream, a tone poem, with torch songs and odyssey in dream logic and nonsense." It's an odyssey he and Kathleen Brennan created together, in what is becoming one of the epic collaborations in music, going on over twenty years now. "Kathleen is my Alice," said Waits. "We met on New Year's Eve, 1980. We used to play a game called 'Let's Go Get Lost.' She'd say 'turn here, turn here...' until we were lost. It's kind of like writing songs together. In the studio, Kathleen will submerge herself in seven newspapers and a novel, and then at just the right time she'll raise her head and make a remark that will become the eyes and ears of the song. Alice, once dubbed "the lost Tom Waits masterpiece" by the press, was originally done as an avant-garde opera directed by Robert Wilson for Hamburg's Thalia Theater in the winter of 1992. Alice was based loosely on Lewis Carroll's obsession with young Alice Liddell, the girl who inspired his Alice In Wonderland and Through The Looking Glass. Working with Brennan, they wrote fifteen songs for the Wilson opera in the summer of 1992. The Thalia performed Alice for eighteen months with an eclectic orchestra of Waits' design, but the composers did not record the songs until last summer (along with his forthcoming simultaneous new release, Blood Money). "Songs are joining the dream of the listener, and completing a circuit that is really entirely your own," said Waits. "These songs are unsure footsteps, in a strange house, in the dark." Lyrically and musically, the songs are part of a cycle where each song relates to what comes before and what will follow, as you listen, Alice is a puzzle that reveals as it unravels and makes a bold step forward for Waits.


Label Koch International Distributio
SKU 60554145
UPC 045778663224
UPC 14 00045778663224
Format CD
Release Date 1/6/2004
Author Tom Waits
Associated Artist/Work Cole, Holly
Associated Artist/Work Gayle, Crystal
Associated Artist/Work Original Soundtrack
Associated Artist/Work Walker, Jess
Technical Info
Engineer Gerd Bessler; Jacquire King; Jeff Sloan; Oz Fritz
Producer Kathleen Brennan; Tom Waits
CatalogID 86632
Lable Name Anti
Released 10/01/2004
Original Release 2002
Number of Discs 1
SPARE Code n/a
Length 48m : 15s
Mono/Stereo Stereo
Studio/Live Studio
UPC 00045778663224
Musical Guests
Stewart Copeland
Album Notes and Credits
Personnel includes: Tom Waits (vocals, violin, piano, organ, chamberlain, Mellotron, vibraphone, glockenspiel, cymbals); Larry Taylor (acoustic & electric guitars, bass, percussion); Joe Gore (electric guitar); Myles Boisen (banjo); Bebe Risenfors (violin, viola, fiddle, clarinet, bass clarinet, marimba, bass); Dawn Harms, Carla Kihlstedt (violin); Matt Brubeck (cello); Collin Stetson (baritone saxophone); Ara Anderson (trumpet); Gino Robair (marimba, drums, percussion); Eric Perney, Matthew Sperry (bass); Andrew Borger (drums, percussion); Stewart Copeland (drums).
Recorded at In The Pocket Studios, Forestville, California.
Personnel: Tom Waits (vocals, violin, piano, pump organ, chamberlin, Mellotron, glockenspiel); Kathleen Brennan (acoustic guitar, percussion); Joe Gore, Larry Taylor (electric guitar); Myles Boisen (banjo); Carla Kihlstedt (violin); Matthew Brubeck (cello); Colin Stetson (bass clarinet, saxophone, baritone saxophone); Nick Phelps (trumpet, French horn); Bent Clausen (piano); Andrew Borger (drums, frame drum, percussion); Gino Robair (drums, percussion).
Audio Mixers: Jacquire King ; Oz Fritz.
Recording information: In The Pocket, Forestville, CA.
Photographer: Matt Mahurin.
Unknown Contributor Role: Heather Fremling.
Never one to be outdone, Tom Waits released ALICE and BLOOD MONEY simultaneously, both featuring music written for plays directed by Robert Wilson. Loosely based on THROUGH THE LOOKING GLASS, ALICE is much more low-key and ballad-heavy than its companion release, but just as incisive and affecting. The title track is a smoky, jazz-tinged torch song that conjures pleasant memories of Waits's evocative work for Francis Ford Coppola's film ONE FROM THE HEART. "Everything You Can Think" is an absurdist portrait a la the seminal RAIN DOGS.
Waits opens the door to the freak show on "Poor Edward," a disturbing tune about a man with a female face on the other side of his head, and the more light-hearted "Table Top Joe," a swinging, jazzy tale of a character with no bottom half but plenty of rhythm. Despite the effective journeys into the bizzaro universe, perhaps the most stirring moments on ALICE are the wounded romantic ballads "Fish and Bird" and "I'm Still Here," where Waits's knack for a classic melody mates perfectly with a lyrical combination of wistfulness and regret.
Professional Reviews
Rolling Stone (5/23/02, p.78) - 4 out of 5 stars - "...[Waits'] throatis...pure theater, a wapon of pictorial emphasis and raw honesty....ALICE is...macabre in its details of destructive lust. But there are flickers of hope, too..."
Spin (6/02, p.109) - 7 out of 10 - "...Worth its weight almost solely for 'I'm Still Here', one of those unbearably tender moments that Waits seems to pull out of his greasy head like a tick..."
Q (May 2002, p.114) - 4 out of 5 stars - "...ALICE is described by Waits as an album of 'opiate songs'...oddly sideways lyrics and [an] often meditative vibe make it a strangely gorgeous and graceful work..."
Alternative Press (7/02, p.96) - 9 out of 10 - "...[ALICE] has gained a reputation as Waits' "lost masterpiece." That claim proves well deserved..."
Magnet (6-7/02, p.111) - "...Hovering around slower tempos...the weary pump organ and piano limp along while Waits' voice takes on the obsessive growl of a neurotic, jilted loser..."
CMJ (5/20/02, p.6) - "...Brooding and jazzy..."
Mojo (Publisher) (5/02, p.94) - "...Unhealthy obsession has rarely been this beautiful....skewed and drowsy, with wonky percussion and soft, smudged, narcotic strings...vaporous, layered, beautifully evocative..."
NME (Magazine) (5/18/02, p.35) - 8 out of 10 - "...A shimmering, mournful gem..."
Disc 1
1 Alice
2 Everything You Can Think
3 Flowers Grave
4 No One Knows I'm Gone
5 Kommienezuspadt
6 Poor Edward
7 Table Top Joe
8 Lost In The Harbour
9 We're All Mad Here
10 Watch Her Disappear
11 Reeperbahn
12 I'm Still Here
13 Fish & Bird
14 Barcarolle
15 Fawn
Q Magazine ...oddly sideways lyrics and [an] often meditative vibe make it a strangely gorgeous and graceful work.
David Fricke, Rolling Stone ...his throat is now pure theater, a weapon of pictorial emphasis and raw honesty.

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